When a plane crashes on a mountaintop Chris wants to plunder the wreckage. His older brother Zachary has given up mountain guide work but goes along rather than letting his brother risk it alone. The only survivor is a Hindu girl who Chris wants to kill. Zachary fights him off. While Chris steals from the dead passengers, Zachary prepares a sled to take the girl down the mountain.
Spencer Tracy ... Zachary Teller
Robert Wagner ... Christopher 'Chris' Teller
Claire Trevor ... Marie
William Demarest ... Father Belacchi
Barbara Darrow ... Simone
Richard Arlen ... C. W. Rivial
E.G. Marshall ... Solange
Anna Kashfi ... Hindu Girl
Richard Garrick ... Coloz
Harry Townes ... Joseph
Stacy Harris ... Nicholas Servoz
Yves Brainville ... Andre
During his career Spencer Tracy essayed a few roles as a foreigner and did quite well in them for a man who was so typically American. Of course the most prominent was Manuel Fidello in Captains Courageous, but he also played a gypsy in Tortilla Flat, a Cuban fisherman in The Old Man and the Sea, a German in The Seventh Cross. He certainly did a lot better than Henry Fonda who was also typically American, but laughable in War and Peace.
In The Mountain he plays a Swiss mountaineer, a simple peasant guy with great dignity and iron moral sense. He's got a younger brother played by Robert Wagner and there's a generation gap between them.
Wagner's performance reminded me very much of what Marlon Brando said in The Young Lions about how he resented working for tips from foreigners in his own country. Wagner wants to get up and out of their Alpine village and doesn't care how. Brando and Wagner are both ambitious, Brando's way was to become a Nazi, Wagner had a less political approach to satisfy his ambition, one a lot more crude though.
A plane crashes on a forbidden Alp near their house, a mountain that Spencer Tracy had climbed solo before. An expedition to reach survivors fails with the death of a friend of Tracy. Wagner wants to go up on the mountain to loot the passengers. Tracy wants to see if there are survivors and they make the climb.
A survivor does turn up actually, a Hindu woman played by Anna Kashfi, this was in fact an Air India plane that crashed. Her survival touches off a test of wills and purpose for the brothers.
I hadn't seen The Mountain for many years and I had forgotten how riveting Spencer Tracy's performance was. In the dialog and in the closeups the anguish in him tears at the audience.
The only criticism I have of The Mountain was that Tracy and Wagner were playing brothers. Tracy was the least vain of all the great Hollywood stars from the studio era, he was known for never wearing makeup. He looks every bit the 56 years on the screen and Wagner looks his age and he was in his twenties then. They're not too believable as brothers, but both are skilled enough players to overcome it. But they should have been made father and son like in Broken Lance.
This movie is often described as simple and unidimensional. But in the context of spirituality and high moral character, this movie rates high.
Spencer's character is described as dull, and his acting effort minor. But how else is a man reverent of nature and God supposed to be portrayed. The subtleties of this character are often overlooked in our glamorized, sensationalized society. Quiet reverence, devotion to God and family are the central messages of this movie. Observe how Tracy's character tolerates and endures the unruly "modern-ess" of his much younger brother, portrayed well by Wagner.
This movie may be "sappy" to some, but I found it's moral message to be most uplifting and a pleasant departure from machine guns, gangster and starlets, sex and violence. Although, in a very minor respect, those elements are visible in this movie. This is a good family movie.
The emotional power of Dmytryk's films may derive from his range of vision always patronizing his characters, restoring honesty and ability to a style and realism...
For Tracy climbing a mountain is a matter of integrity... The conquest of a peak brings moments of exultation and bliss... What he gets from the adventure is just sheer joy... He is simple, kind and sincere...
All brothers dream, but Tracy dreams for the little... He sees life in an honest way... His brother (Wagner), at the contrary, dreams big and with open eyes to make it reality...
When a plane crashes on the top of the mountain, Wagner insists on going up to plunder the remains of the wrecked plane... Spencer accedes to the request to stop his spoiled younger brother to climb the mountain alone...
The avaricious brother is a novice in climbing techniques... He is seeking outdoor adventure only to bring gold and silver, and to strip the dead passengers robbing their money, jewelry and goods...
Tracy - with previous mountaineering experience - had something else in him which responds to the challenge and goes out to meet the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward to shield the safety of his brother with passion and enthusiasm...They are two generations apart, two opposite characters with two utterly different goals...
After a long and hard journey up the mountain, they succeed to reach the airplane wreck and to find that one passenger is still alive - a Hindu girl (Anna Kashfi).
A concerned Tracy gives all his good nature assistance as a caring human being to the injured delicate girl... But an unscrupulous brother intends to murder the helpless woman in order to steal her precious gem...
With the most gorgeous natural areas around; large fields with many ridges and faces; difficult rock climbing; and weak snow bridges, Dmytryk adds to the drama (in VistaVision and Technicolor) the magic and beauty of the high mountain country...
If you're looking for a slam-bang action film, look elsewhere. If you want a suspenseful and engrossing drama with solid characters, then look no further. "THE MOUNTAIN" is a first-class motion picture. Spencer Tracy is superb. Robert Wagner is wonderful. The cinematography is first-rate, as is the musical score and all other technical aspects of the film. If you've never seen "THE MOUNTAIN", rent it tonight.