Entertainment

Broadmead Village to screen 1939 movie filmed in Saanich

Mountie Ken Strange (played by Edgar Edwards), right, and Dan MacKenzie (Michael Heppell) share the screen with Rin Tin Tin Jr. in the 1939 film Death Goes North, filmed in and around Saanich. - Courtesy of Victoria Film Festival
Mountie Ken Strange (played by Edgar Edwards), right, and Dan MacKenzie (Michael Heppell) share the screen with Rin Tin Tin Jr. in the 1939 film Death Goes North, filmed in and around Saanich.
— image credit: Courtesy of Victoria Film Festival

Driving into Broadmead Village, it’s difficult to imagine a North West Mounted Policeman bounding towards Rithet’s Bog with Rin Tin Tin leading the charge.

But in the late 1930s, that’s exactly what was happening on the site. Now, the Free-B Film Festival is offering locals a chance to discover those little-known moments with an outdoor screening of Death Goes North on Aug. 23.

“The film was part of what was called the Quota of Quickies,” said Donovan Aikman, programmer at Victoria Film Festival. “The British were trying to keep out American product, so they introduced a piece of legislation that required 15 per cent of films shown in Britain to be filmed in Commonwealth countries.”

Greater Victoria, a relatively quick journey from Los Angeles, was the ideal site for a number of “Quota of Quickies” productions, which were usually tacked on as double features with U.S. films to satisfy U.K. screening rules.

In the hour-long film, Rin Tin Tin Jr., the mystery-solving German shepherd, teams up with Mountie Ken Strange (played by Edgar Edwards) at a Canadian logging camp.  Strange and Dan MacKenzie (Michael Heppell) are called in to investigate the death of timber heiress Elsie Barlow’s (Shelia Bromley) uncle. But the plot soon thickens as the police realize someone may be an imposter.

“The film crew did move around a lot throughout the region,” Aikman said. A frontier town scene was likely filmed on Saltspring Island, but primary filming was done in and around Broadmead, known then as Rithet’s Estates Forest, he added.

Death Goes North will be preceded by a classic Max Fleischer Superman cartoon, Volcano, followed by Canadian Mounties vs Atomic Invaders, a Republic movie serial featuring Canadian Mounted Police in their fight to stop a foreign power from setting up secret missile bases in Canada.

Movie goers are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets. Snacks and hot drinks are available at a variety of Broadmead Village merchants.

“We secretly hope there’s someone who’s still in the area and was in the film,” Aikman said. “That would be incredible to get a first-hand account of the filming.”

The evening kicks off Saturday at 9 p.m. in the Broadmead Village parking lot. See freebfilmfest.com for more information.

editor@saanichnews.com

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