Monday, March 2, 2015

The Adventures of Smoke Bellew (TV mini-series)

Chercheurs d’or - French title
Aranyásók Alaszkában – Hungarian title
Jack London’s Wilderness Tales - English title
The Adventures of Smoke Bellew - English title

A 1995 Canadian, French Television co-production [Cinévidéo Plus (Montreal) France 3/
Gaumont Télévision/Ellipse Programme (Paris)]
Producer: Justin Héroux, Robert Rea
Director: Marc Simeon
Story: “The Adventures of Smoke Bellew” by Jack London (John Chaney)
Teleplay: Denis Héroux, Nicole Ricard
Dialogue: Gérard Bitton
Photography: Éric Cayla [color]
Music: Jean-Claude Deblais, José Souc
Running time: 90 minutes x 4 episodes

Smoke Bellew/Belliou - Wadeck Stanczak
Shorty - Michael Lamport
Joy - Michèle‑Barbara Pelletier
Constable Henry - Charles Powell
Big Olaf - Jean-Guy Bouchard
Stine - Lorne Brass
Sprague - Serge Houde
Louis - James Bradford
Von Schroeder - François‑Eric Gendron
Sitka Charlie - Jack Langedijk
Sergeant Consadine - Peter Colvey
Jones - Yaniko Palis
Dowager - Jane Gilchrist
Murphy - Richard Zeman
Prussian handler - Gregory Hlady (Hladij Hryhorij)
Indian chief - Edouard Kurtness
Old prospector - Roger Desrosiers
Barkeep - John Baggaley (Jon Baggaley)
Fowler - Dennis St. John
Lucille Arral - Cécile Pallas
Wildwater Bill - Daniel Gélin
Cultus George - Roland Giraud
Dwight Sanderson - John Neville
Chester Bailey - Michael Sarrazine
Dancer - Carole Bureau (Carole Thomas)
with: Mylène Demongeot (Marie-Hélène Demongeot), Dave McKeown (David McKeown), Stephanie Lefebvre (Stéphane Lefebvre), Claude Chasse, Minor Mustain, Richard Moll (Charles Moll), Barry Morse (Herbert Morse), Héléna Laliberté

‘The Adventures of Smoke Bellew’ was a 1995 Canadian/French co-produced TV mini-series.
4 Episodes: “Stake Your Claim”, “Gambling on Paradise”, “The Golden Egg”, “The Motherlode of the Yukon”.

The story takes many liberties with Jack London’s novel, most notably having the hero come from France instead of San Francisco. Its musical score is remarkably juvenile, making the production focused on a younger audience. The production values, locations and what's left of London's storytelling make it very watchable. The story follows the adventures of a young greenhorn miner named Smoke Bellew and how he’s taken under the wing of a veteran sourdough named Shorty who tries, not always successfully, to keep Smoke out of trouble and being taken advantage of by other seasoned scalawags. The series shows how rough the conditions were for those who ventured north to the Klondike at the turn of the 20th century. With the help of Shorty he meets others who are trying to make a living or find a gold strike to turn their lives around. As usual in a mini-series some episodes are better than others but overall not a better than average endeavor.

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