Dear friends of Milestone,
Milestone Film & Video is very proud to present in association with the
National Film Board of Canada, the DVD premiere of WHITE THUNDER, a remarkable
documentary on the life and death of Varick Frissell. Directed by Victoria King,
it is a moving film about the life of the New York born-to-wealth Frissell who
after graduating from Yale, volunteered as a laborer for the International
Grenfell Association, a medical mission in northern Newfoundland. He went on to
explore the previously unmapped Grand River Region of the vast land of
Labrador, starting a career in filmmaking to celebrate the beauty of what he saw.
Sadly, while making his first feature film for Paramount, tragedy ensued, marking
the greatest disaster in Hollywood history. We think the documentary is truly
moving and exciting and know that Victoria is a rising star in her field.
The DVD features a lot of bonus features and sells for $29.95 (A DVD with
Public Performance Rights sells for $195) plus $5.00 for shipping and handling.
More information about the DVD and how to order it can be found below. For
those in Canada interested in purchasing the DVD, please contact the NFB!
MILESTONE FILM & VIDEO is proud to present the December 7, 2004 DVD premiere
WHITE THUNDER: The Story of Varick Frissell and The Viking Disaster
A film by Victoria King
The documentary on Hollywood's worst film tragedy.
An Image Entertainment Release from the Milestone Collection. Retail Price:
Release Date: December 7, 2004
"The … film footage is 70 years old, but the jaw-dropping scenes of
Newfoundland’s annual seal hunt rival any computer-generated spectacles Hollywood has
made in recent years." — The London Free Press
On March 9, 1931, the SS Viking left the port of St. John's, Newfoundland,
and sailed into motion picture history. On board were New York filmmaker Varick
Frissell and an unusual crew of seamen and Hollywood movie people. Their
mission: to shoot the final scenes for an epic feature film on the lives of
Newfoundland sealers. Six days later, an accidental onboard explosion killed Frissell
and 26 other men.
White Thunder, directed by native Newfoundlander Victoria King, is a gripping
account of that tragic adventure and an exquisite tribute to an early film
pioneer. Born in 1903, Frissell grew up on Manhattan's moneyed Upper East Side
and studied at Yale. Caught up in the early fad for home movies and mentored by
renowned documentarian Robert Flaherty, Frissell quickly grasped the
potential of the emerging genre. In 1921 he attended a lecture by Dr. Wilfred
Grenfell, who had established medical outposts along the isolated Labrador coast.
Frissell went to work with Grenfell and was overwhelmed by the stark beauty of the
landscape. With two successful documentaries (The Lure of Labrador and The
Swilin’ Racket) under his belt, he secured the backing of Paramount Pictures to
make a feature sound film. Frissell and his large crew hauled heavy camera and
sound equipment to the rolling ice floes of the North Atlantic. The legendary
Bob Bartlett (captain of Robert E. Peary’s expeditions to the North Pole)
plays himself, working alongside the local sealers and American actors.
Tragically, with the explosion, the shot-on-location melodrama turned into one of
Hollywood’s worst disasters.
White Thunder explores Frissell's fascinating legacy, integrating astonishing
footage from The Viking, as well as his earlier documentaries, to present
evidence of a remarkable filmmaking talent.
The Films of Varick Frissell. Courtesy of the National Library and Archives
The Lure of Labrador (1926. 13 minutes. Music by David Drazin.)
The Swilin’ Racket (a.k.a. The Great Arctic Seal Hunt. 1928. 40 minutes.
Music by David Drazin.)
The Viking (1931. 72 minutes.)
Outtakes from The Viking (silent. 20 minutes.)
Milestone Press Kit
Here are the instructions for ordering Milestone videos:
By Phone: Please call (800) 603-1104. We’re in the office 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
EST, Monday – Friday. At other times, please leave a message. Outside the US,
call (201) 767-3117.
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Please include your name, address, phone number, credit card number, credit card
expiration date, and whether you would like VHS or DVD. We also accept
institutional purchase orders.
By Mail: To prepay, please send a check or money order (payable in US$ drawn
on a US bank only) to: Milestone Film & Video, PO Box 128, Harrington Park, NJ
In the US: Add $5.00 for the first VHS or DVD and 75¢ for each
Overseas: Add $8.00 for the first VHS, $6.00 for DVD and $3.00 for
New Jersey residents: Please add 6% sales tax.
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Milestone Film & Video
PO Box 128
Harrington Park, NJ 07640
Phone: (800) 603-1104 or (201) 767-3117
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White Thunder. Canada. 2002. B&W and Color. 52 minutes. A National Film Board
of Canada and Factory Lane Productions co-production. Director: Victoria
King. Producers: Annette Clarke and Kent Martin.
To download the information kit for WHITE THUNDER go to
To see more films in our award-winning Age of Exploration series, go to:
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite