For the reels of film, this was the end of the line.
There is no narration in the film, only subtitles flashed on the screen as unobtrusively as possible along with an insistent score by Alex Somers ("Captain Fantastic"), but it is the images that tell an American story of the connection between money, politics, and entertainment, a connection that brought fame and wealth to some and obscurity to others.Among the names we recognize who stayed at one time or another in Dawson City were Hän Chief Isaac, Jack London, Fred Trump (Donald's grandfather), Eric Hegg as well as Sid Grauman, Tex Rickard, Klondike Kate, Alexander Pantages, Philadelphia Jack O' Brien, Fatty Arbuckle, Daniel and Solomon Guggenheim, Robert Service, and William Desmond Taylor, names that later became famous in Hollywood.Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the first baseball commissioner hired to prevent any more Black Sox scandals, used his power to deport socialists who protested World War I and the murder of the miners in Colorado.There is also footage of a black protest parade, and some few words of choice from the corrupt Mayor of New York, Jimmy Walker.What happened in between the city's heady gold rush days and its demise has been documented by Bill Morrison ("The Great Flood") in his fascinating film Dawson City: Frozen Time.
Rescued from 533 nitrate reels of film buried for decades beneath an ice rink in Dawson City, Morrison put together a treasure trove of silent films, newsreels, travelogues, and sports footage spanning from 1897 until the 1970s, films once thought lost forever.It was these that were found in 1978, many of them well preserved under the ice, others in various states of decay.In the clips, some that only last a few seconds, Morrison demonstrates through visual poetry how the patterns of deterioration can add themselves to the beauty of the experience.Among the titles bearing witness were "The Frog," "The Birth of a Flower," "A Trip Through Palestine," "The Recoil," and "Polly of the Circus." Even more revealing of the old mindset are such titles as "The Half Breed," "The Female of the Species," "The Hidden Scar," and "The Unpardonable Sin." We see the discovery of gold in Nome, Alaska in 1899 which siphoned off a chunk of Dawson City's population, the end of gambling and prostitution in 1901, and the building of the DAAA, the Dawson Amateur Athletic Association in 1902.The DAAA was an entertainment center that included a swimming pool, a hockey rink, billiards, boxing and handball and which began showing films that had been brought to Dawson City after having been in circulation for several years.A strait-laced amateur sociologist, Phillips Christy, from a wealthy family subscribes to the theory that people are shaped by their environment. See full summary » Philip de Mornay, a courtier in the French royal court of the 18th century, falls in love with Daphne La Tour, the daughter of a nobleman. See full summary » Royal Macklin, a cadet at WEst Point, is discharged for a misdemeanor, and the father of Beatrice, Macklin's sweetheart, order her to break the engagement. See full summary » The question is, would the young tramp really have fallen in love with the groceryman's daughter if he had not caught her in the heart struggle. See full summary » A poor Russian girl's beauty leads her unscrupulous uncle to bring her to the United States.