A botch job by Sam Goldwyn, who exercised his power as producer by changing directors—from Howard Hawks to William Wyler—halfway through the shooting. Some sources hold that Wyler shot only the last ten minutes, working from Hawks’s script; others claim that Wyler reshot much of Hawks’s work. But the first part of the film, the best, is unmistakably Hawks, as Edward Arnold and Walter Brennan (in an early part, his first Academy Award performance) fight for the hand of Frances Farmer, against the background of the north-woods logging country. The Edna Ferber story (like her Giant) then shifts generations, and the action loses much of its scale. Farmer remains a wonder, in one of her few fully realized parts as an early and lusty version of the Hawksian woman (1936).
A wide-open San Francisco, circa 1890, is the background for one of Howard Hawks‘s intelligent love triangles: Miriam Hopkins is a mail-order bride whose husband-to-be is killed on the night of her arrival; gambler Edward G. Robinson offers her protection, drifter Joel McCrea offers her solace. A boisterous film with a serious undertone provided by Hawks’s preoccupation with the moral compromise necessary for survival. Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur scripted (1935).