“HUDSON RIVER MASSACRE”— Canada, Nineteenth century.


Canada, Nineteenth century…

Amos Lassen

The Hudson Bay Company, with James Sullivan (Santiago Rivero) as its leader who is supported by the British Mounted Police, impose unacceptable conditions on native trappers. A group led by Leo Limoux (Franco Fantasia) rebels in retaliation. Victor DeFrois (George Martin), a trapper who, until the execution his brother by the British soldiers had remained neutral, kidnaps Ann Sullivan (Giulia Rubini), daughter of the ruthless owner of the Hudson Bay Company, to use as a bargaining tool while the rebels disrupt and gain control of the company’s business. What Victor didn’t count on was falling in love with his hostage.

This is an Italian-Spanish co-production of 1965 directed by Amando de Ossorio, who is also responsible for the script. De Ossorio demonstrates his knowledge of the classics but there is a lack of historical rigor. The plot deals superficially with the confrontation and simplifies the conflict in the person of the tyrannical director of the Hudson Bay Company, which thanks to the monopoly established in relation to the sale of skins imposes unacceptable conditions on the trappers; or that the racial problems they plan throughout the film, such as in a scene between Victor and Ann, are treated superficially and even with great naivety. It seems that the director’s intention was to give us an old-fashioned adventure movie. We get a vigorous and dynamic film, with a fast-pacing and a quite well-directed rhythm.  The cinematography by Fulvio Testi gives us truly spectacular scenes,

Although some of the story elements have a historic background, the movie is pure fantasy and no effort was made to give it an authentic look. The trappers all wear Davy Crocket fur hats and the weapons on display are an odd mix of hand guns and other fire arms that only came into use much later. There are no gun duels, no dusty streets, no sweaty faces, instead there are several fistfights and two battle sequences with the Mounties charging the rebels in full cavalry style, sabers drawn. The body count is surprisingly high for an early European western movie, but the movie lacks the mean and dirty atmosphere that would come to be associated with Italian and Spanish western movies.

Martin is a somewhat bland hero, but Franco Fantasia and Raf Baldassare are good rebels and there are three lovely ladies: the kidnapped daughter, a half breed Indian woman (in love with the rebel leader) and a gypsy like beauty (in love with the hero). Things are mixed up completely. Victor is a trapper who when he returns home receives the news that his brother has been sentenced to death for a crime he has not committed. After witnessing the execution, he decides to join a group of French-speaking Canadian rebels who live in the forest, who are dedicated to steal items whose destiny is a nearby fur industry, owned by the English Sullivan, trying to boycott the British presence in the zone. After joining the band, but not before battling against his ringleader as a way to prove his worth, he will lead the kidnapping of Sullivan’s daughter, who in turn maintains love flirtations with the head of the local garrison of the mounted police, emerging soon.

The narration is fluid, although it is torpedoed towards the end with the inclusion of a long scene where a battle between the mounted police and the rebels is recreated that was surely conceived as one of the high points.

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