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The Drifter (January 10, 1932)

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William Farnum in The Drifter

Released January 10, 1932: The Drifter is a French man whose passion is to drift from place to place. We watch as he drifts back to the place of his birth and changes the lives of everyone he encounters.

Directed by William A. O'Connor

The Actors: William Farnum (the drifter), Noah Beery (John McNary), Phyllis Barrington (Bonnie McNary), Charles Sellon (Whitey), Bruce Warren (Paul LaTour), Russell Hopton (Montana), Ann Brody (Marie), Ynez Seabury (Yvonne), Fern Emmett (woman).


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This movie takes us to the Canadian wilderness in Québec, where we meet a mysterious French man only known as, 'The Drifter.' It isn't a movie to select when you want an action-packed adventure that will have you chewing on your fingernails with suspense and fear. This is a movie that you want to watch on a lazy day, when you want to escape from your world and visit a world that is foreign to most of us. We will visit a world where the men are very tough, and the women are even tougher. A land of barren cold outside, and people that survive tough times and still manage to smile. Pop a big bowl of hot buttered white kernel popcorn and grab a mug of steamy hot cocoa and enjoy a glimpse into the lives of the pioneers that forged new lives in the new country of Canada.

Our movie opens with a hooting owl crying out, "Whoo . . . . Whoo," and a big, burly Frenchman smiles and answers, "It is The Drifter." This man wanders around the Canadian Territories gettting into the middle of every problem and crises that he can find. With a combination of tough force and reflective philosophy, he wins every battle that he enters, with almost magical abilities. Early on we meet Montana, a hired killer from down south in the States, who is set on killing him, in church, on Sunday, to save the time of getting the Drifter's body into church for his funeral. Of course, The Drifter survives this encounter, and Montana does not. But enough of the details, you can enjoy each one as it happens. Here is the main plot line that weaves all of the adventures and crises together.

Actor Noah Beery is John McNeary, head of a lumber camp in the mountains of Québec, and he has a young daughter Bonnie, who is in love with Paul LaTour, the head of a competing lumber operation. And it seems that there is foul play between the two camps, and Paul LaTour believes that McNary is behind it. Enter The Drifter, who goes to work for McNary, and falls in love with his daughter, Bonnie. On the way, The Drifter has picked up a side-kick, an unknown man who just got out of prison, after serving 20 years. This man will figure prominently into the story, weaved in expertly by the author of this tale.

You think that stories about frontier pioneers from a hundred years ago are never as well written as the epic stories from the celebrated authors of old? Well, get ready for a surprisingly entrancing story that will keep you guessing and not allow you to tear your eyes away from the screen until the final, gripping scene. Bonnie is the key to this complex tale of the north woods pioneers. Just like modern stories of murder, deceit, crime and love, it always centers around a lady, with the men seemingly uncontrollable in their actions around her. But the plot twists are worthy of the best authors of the time, with one surprise coming after the next.