Top of the World (1955)

Lee Gannon (Dale Robertson) is an Air Force man, but he’s too old to keep flying jets. He’s being reassigned to Alaska’s Ladd Air Force Base, where he’ll still be active in the Air Force, just in a different capacity.

Gannon’s ex-wife, Virgie (Evelyn Keyes), is also living in Alaska, where she’s opened up a nightclub. Though he’s upset to be leaving his home in California, Gannon is at least intrigued to see where Virgie has ended up.

Upon arrival in Alaska, Gannon gets his assignment: Operation Deep Freeze, a weather data project run by Major Brad Cantrell (Frank Lovejoy).

(Image via movieposter.com)

(Image via movieposter.com)

Cantrell happens to have fallen in love with Virgie, while Mary Ross (Nancy Gates), a public relations lieutenant for the Air Force, has fallen in love with Cantrell. All of this romantic entanglement adds complication to Gannon’s new life in Alaska.

Top of the World was directed by Lewis R. Foster, from a script by N. Richard Nash and John D. Klorer.

Alaska, though I’ve not yet visited it, is one of my favorite states. I’ve watched plenty of documentaries and read many books about it. However, I’ve watched very few fictional films set in Alaska, so I decided to give this one a watch on Netflix in December. Though I could find no information regarding whether any portion of the film was shot on location, I was interested to see a mid-century portrayal of the 49th state.

Unfortunately, this film was a real dud. The pace is pretty slow, and the story doesn’t always do a spectacular job of holding the viewer’s attention.

The romantic elements of the plot bring the film down quite a bit. The story seems tired, and the cast members involved don’t have enough chemistry to make up for the all-too-formulaic plot of romantic drama.

The performances individually, chemistry aside, aren’t great either. At times, they feel very stiff and unnatural in conversation. Again, this especially apparent in the romantic subplot.

The action scenes are quite nicely-staged and do redeem the film a bit, pulling the viewer in more than any of the other elements of the story. Still, they are not enough to make up for the dull rest of the film. I was pretty disappointed with this one. The score: 1/5

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