Nell Shipman and Wapi


Directed by               David Hartford
Produced by             James Oliver Curwood, Ernest Shipman (uncredited)
Written by                James Oliver Curwood (short story:Wapi, the Walrus), Nell Shipman
Cinematography      Dal Clawson, Joseph Walker
Editing by                 Cyril Gardner
Distributed by          First National Exhibitor's Circuit (later to become First National Pictures)
Release date              October 27, 1919
Country                     Canada
Language                  Silent film, English intertitles


We have included this film in our program to illustrate the work and contributions of our star Nell Shipman.


"Back to God's Country" is a rousing drama of the Northern Frontier, packed with thrilling action and suspense.  For starters, a man kills an Indian in a drunken fury; the whole scene being witnessed by the Indian's dog, Wapi the Killer.  Wapi will harbor hatred for white men for a long time.

Miles away Nell Shipman, who lives with her father, meets a nice guy and they get married.  Then one day, after her husband leaves on a business trip, an outlaw appears by their home.  The outlaw takes a liking to Nell Shipman, pretends an injury and installs himself in their home.  Next thing, he tries to force himself on her, and in the ensuing events the outlaw kills her father.

Years later, Nell Shipman's husband is transferred for work to a distant place in the north, and they must board a merchant ship to get there.  While out at sea, she is horrified to find out that the ship's captain is that same outlaw, who killed her father.  The outlaw will stop at nothing to get her.  He stages an accident, in which Nell Shipman's husband is badly injured and becomes defenseless.  She is left alone to try and defend her honor and her husband's life. 

Then in a stop at a northern harbor Nell Shipman meets and befriends Wapi the dog.  She asks a local man for help and he provides her with a sledge and supplies so she can take her husband to a doctor across the frozen wilderness.  As she is on her way, the outlaw dashes in pursuit.  In a thrilling race Wapi plays a crucial role in saving the day.

Nell Shipman was an actress portraying strong female characters that liked the outdoors and adventures.  Her love for animals was extraordinary, as manifested in this film.  She is hugging and playing with bears, porcupines and whatnot; her touch magically converts a raging beast of a dog into a tame puppy.

Nell Shipman was a Canadian and "Back to God's Country" is considered the best and most successful of all Canadian silent films.

The film enjoys a nice rating in IMDB.


Back to God's Country (1919) on IMDb

Click to enlarge:


    Nell Shipman