The Challenge (1938)

The ChallengeChallenge Poster
Directed by Milton Rosner and Luis Trenker
Written by Emeric Pressburger from a scenario by Patrick Kirwin and Milton Rosner
Denham Films

First viewing; Streamed on Hulu Plus

[interview in New York City, 1980] I think that a film should have a good story, a clear story, and it should have, if possible, something which is probably the most difficult thing – it should have a little bit of magic . . . Magic being untouchable and very difficult to cast, you can’t deal with it at all. You can only try to prepare some nests, hoping that a little bit of magic will slide into them. — Emeric Pressburger

There is precious little magic in this story about the conquest of the Matterhorn.

Jean Antoine Carel of Italy and Edward Whymper of Britain are rivals to first reach the summit of the Matterhorn.  They become friends when Carel saves Whymper’s life and agree to make the next attempt together.  However, Whymper decides that the best route lies from the Swiss side of the mountain.  The Italian Government wants an Italian team to reach the summit first — from the Italian side — and determines that Carel should lead that team, making them rivals.  Though Carel tries to be loyal to Whymper, the Italians trick each into abandoning the other. This leads to a race to the top.

Challenge 1

The plot sounds like it might be exciting but I thought this was very dull.  There are some nice mountain climbing scenes.  It seemed much longer than its 76 minute running time.  The complete film is also currently streaming on YouTube.


2 thoughts on “The Challenge (1938)

  1. Is it a documentary? I didn’t know it existed…..and its Emeric Pressburger so you would think I might be familiar with it.

    • It’s more or less a drama based on a true story. The actor that played Carel may have been a mountain climber since he directed the climbing scenes.

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