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The Squaw Man

(1931 b 107')

En: 6 Ed: 6

Cecil B. DeMille directed this story of an aristocrat who leaves England under a cloud and marries a native American.

Lord Henry Kerhill (Paul Cavanagh) has raised 18,000 pounds for the regiment's orphanage; but when Hardwick commits suicide, he is missing 10,000 pounds. Henry is jealous of his cousin Jim Wynn (Warner Baxter), causing his wife Diana (Eleanor Boardman) and Jim to realize they love each other. Diana asks Jim to leave England. To stop Henry from killing himself, Jim takes the blame for the missing money and leaves, telling Henry to pay back the fund.

At Buzzards Pass the sheriff (DeWitt Jennings) tells Jim and Cash Hawkins (Charles Bickford) to be friends even though Jim will not sell his ranch. Hawkins tries to buy cattle from an Indian by giving him liquor, but Naturich (Lupe Velez) rips up the contract. Hawkins grabs her hair and wants to buy her, but Jim rescues her. Jim is getting drunk and looking at Diana's photo in a magazine as Hawkins comes to kill him; but Naturich kills Hawkins first. Jim shows the sheriff his gun has not been fired.

Jim keeps telling Naturich to go away; but when two friends of Hawkins ambush him, she saves him and takes care of him. Bill (J. Farrell MacDonald) says Jim will be called a "squaw man." Jim tries to get her to leave for her own good, but he finds her outside in the rain. She takes off her clothes by the fire and puts on his coat.

Seven years later Henry is killed in a fox hunt, but he cleared up the fund. Diana and her elderly friend Johnny (Roland Young) find Jim living in Arizona under another name. Bill and the cowhands have given Hal an electric train for his birthday but Naturich only a wooden horse. Jim introduces his son and wife to Diana. Jim will not return to England because there would be no place for Naturich, but Johnny persuades Jim to send Hal to England to be educated and inherit his earldom. Jim explains to Naturich; she says no, but Jim decides. Finding new evidence, the sheriff comes to arrest Naturich for killing Hawkins. Jim won't give her up and pulls his gun; but Naturich shoots herself and dies.

This story contrasts the English aristocracy with the west of the cowboys and natives. Almost wanting to die, Jim is willing to sacrifice himself. The open attitude of Jim toward Naturich is overshadowed by the prejudice of some white men. This film has perhaps often been disregarded because it deals with controversial intermarriage, which can be of great benefit in developing multi-cultural understanding.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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