“To rest is not to conquer.”
Never heard of The White Tower? No worries neither did I. The only reason I even recorded the film was because Glenn Ford is in it and TCM had a Glenn Ford marathon not that long ago.
Carla Alton (Alida Valli) has come back to her home town after the War. She is determined to climb a mountain known as The White Tower. No guide is willing to take her up because her father was killed years ago trying to climb it. Martin Ordway (Ford) is one of the visitors at the same lodge Carla is staying at. He was a bomber during the War and had been shot down over the country and decided to come back to see it. Carla meets Martin and tells him how it was her father’s dream to climb the mountain all the way to the top. She is trying to put together a team to fulfill her father’s dream. She asks Martin but he tells her no.
Carla eventually gets her team together. She gets an author named Paul DeLombe (Claude Rains) to go. Paul wants to go. He is frustrated that his wife does not understand his desire to live again he feels his writing is suffering. Carla also gets a German man named Heinz (Lloyd Bridges), a climbing student, to come along. Martin decides to go but only until the first time they camp not all the way to the top. Two other men from the village come on the climb as well.
Martin is enjoying the climb and enjoying being with Carla that he decides to go to the second stop. On the second part of the way one of the other men slips and almost kills himself and Heinz. The man who slipped decides to go back and other man, Andreas, has to take him back down the mountain. Clara and Martin want to wait for Andreas but Paul and Heinz want to move on. All alone, Martin proposes to Clara. She tells him no.
Clara and Martin catch up with Heinz and Paul. Heinz wants to leave Paul behind because he is slow and he keeps spacing out. Carla refuses to leave Paul because they are a team and they are to stay that way. Paul stays up drinking the entire night. He does not feel the need to continue on the next day. Andreas tells Paul to stay where he is until they climb back down. By himself Paul goes out of his mind. As he crawls out of the tent he knocks over an oil lamp and burns the tent down. In his drunken state he rips his manuscript and walks away from the tent into a bad storm.
Heinz makes the decision to go up to the top by himself. Martin is fed up with Heinz and especially more so because he realized Heinz was a German pilot during the War. Martin makes it to the top by following Heinz’s fingerprints.
Because I am such a lousy note taker I do not remember what happens after Martin and Heinz make it to the top and how Martin and Carla make it back down the mountain. All I remember is how horribly cheesy the ending was. Usually if I have written down very little of a film it means it was boring and I was not paying too much attention which is most likely what happened here.
The cast was alright. Glenn Ford can never do any wrong. I enjoy him as an actor. Alida Valli was not a bad actress but I do not think she was right for this role at all. Claude Rains was horribly miscast. The part, to me, seems like it was meant for a lesser actor not someone like Rains. The character barely had any scenes or lines. All the actors looked like little kids in their climbing costumes. I was dying watching Lloyd Bridges climbing in shorts with boots and high socks.
I liked seeing all the actors in color. The color was not too poor like some classic films that are not very well known and are not restored properly. Sometimes the color took away from the film because it made the fake scenery very obvious.
The White Tower, as I mentioned, is very boring, and very slow. There was nothing intense about seeing the characters in danger climbing the mountain because you knew who was going to come out safe and alive. I think the main issue of the film was the writers trying to add a romance in the middle of everything. It was so not necessary. The White Tower is not a film I would be in a rush to see even if you are a fan of Glenn Ford or Alida Valli or Claude Rains.