Visually stunning – colour and Cinemascope allow director Nicholas Ray to dwell to his heart’s content on endless expanses of snow, looming white icebergs and the blue Arctic Ocean – The Savage Innocents features Anthony Quinn as an Eskimo (who almost certainly provided the inspiration for the Bob Dylan song Quinn The Eskimo).
Inuk (Quinn) has had little contact with white men, and when he goes to a trading post he accidentally kills a missionary and finds himself being pursued by the police.
The film deals with the culture clash between the savage innocents and the white man’s “advanced” civilisation, coming down strongly on the side of the Eskimos, and treating them with tremendous respect.
Ray – who also directed Rebel Without A Cause (1955) – was not a great friend of civilisation, and audiences certainly left The Savage Innocents with a heightened awareness of the price they paid for their big ships and boats.
Peter O’Toole, in his first film, plays a policeman who captures Quinn and then later saves his life. O’Toole’s voice is dubbed in the film.
Trading Post Proprietor
Francis De Wolff