The Squaw Man
Cast & Crew
Cecil B. Demille
In England, the wealthy Capt. James Wyngate contributes £100 to a collection for orphans of the regiment to which his cousin Henry, Earl of Kerhill, belonged. When Henry, who has been embezzling the funds, learns that his accomplice Hardwick committed suicide after being caught stealing the money, he too decides to kill himself. Henry attempts suicide, but is talked out of it by James, who is in love with Henry's wife Diana and sets himself up as the embezzlement suspect in order to save Diana from shame. When an announcement is made of the missing money, James plans an immediate departure for America. Diana tries to stop him from leaving and pleads with him to stay and prove his innocence, but her protestations prove to be ineffective, and he leaves. In America, James adopts a new name, Jim Carsten, and takes up residence on a ranch in Arizona. However, he soon finds himself at odds with a local tough named Cash Hawkins, who wants to buy Jim out and get his land. Jim and his friends, Shorty and Big Bill, manage to ward off an unfriendly visit by Hawkins and his entourage, who have come to persuade Jim to sell to them. Later, at a local tavern, the unscrupulous Hawkins nearly gets an Indian, Tabywana, to give him his cattle by bribing him with liquor, until Naturich, an Indian girl who witnesses the offense, tears up the contract. Hawkins grabs Naturich by the hair, but she is saved by Jim. After Hawkins receives a mild reproach for his crime from the sheriff, he swears revenge upon Jim. Meanwhile, when Jim reads an article in an English journal containing highlights of the polo season, he sees a picture of Diana, becomes melancholy and gets drunk. When the angry Hawkins shows up at Jim's looking for trouble, Jim is so drunk and upset that he shows little interest in the outlaw's murder threats. As Hawkins prepares to shoot Jim, who makes no attempt to defend himself, a shot rings out and Hawkins is killed. The sheriff arrives, and although he sniffs everyone's guns looking for the killer, he is unable to find the murder weapon. Later, when Jim goes into the desert, he is followed by Naturich, who confesses that she killed Hawkins out of gratitude. Seven years after Jim's departure from England, Henry dies in a riding accident, and Diana learns that he had been unfaithful to her. When Diana receives word of Jim's whereabouts from the Baldwin Investigating Co., which she had commissioned to find him, she and her brother, Sir John Applegate Kerhill, go to America to find him. Upon their arrival, John and Diana discover that Jim has married a squaw and that he had a child named Little Hal. John tells Jim that, before his death, Henry told the truth about his embezzlment scheme and the cover-up, and that he is now a hero in London. Though Jim is eager to return to England, he refuses to leave Naturich, who would have no place there. Instead, he agrees to let John and Diana take the boy back with them in order to give him a proper upbringing. Naturich resists the visitors' attempts to take her child away and is forced into hiding when the sheriff comes looking for her with evidence that she murdered Hawkins. Naturich shoots herself after watching her son being taken away by the foreigners, and Jim holds her until she dies.
Cecil B. Demille
De Witt Jennings
J. Farrell Macdonald
Cecil B. Demille
The Squaw Man (1931)
James Wynnegate (Warner Baxter) is a British captain whose love for Diana Kerhill (Eleanor Boardman), a woman married to his cousin Henry (Paul Cavanagh), creates a potentially volatile situation between the three. Determined to do the noble thing, James flees to America, where he starts a new life as Jim Carston and falls in love with a "primitive," beautiful Indian squaw Naturich (Lupe Velez) after he saves her from the abusive clutches of local cattle rustler Cash Hawkins (Charles Bickford). The couple set up a Wyoming ranch and raise their half-breed child (Dickie Moore). Jim appears to be content, until former flame Diana travels to America to tell him the news of Henry's death and calls his new life into question. The Squaw Man was a sound remake of Cecil DeMille's 1914 debut feature, which became a box-office smash upon its release. The first Squaw Man launched DeMille's movie career as a director making him as famous a box office draw as D.W. Griffith as well as a consummate symbol of Hollywood's Golden Age. It also launched the career of his producer Jesse L. Lasky and the Famous Players-Lasky Co., which went on to become Paramount Studios. The 1914 Squaw Man was also the first feature-length picture to be made in Hollywood. Prior to the 1931 version, the film had already been remade by DeMille in 1918, making him the only film director in film history to make the same film three times. All three film versions were based on a Broadway play of 1907 which starred cowboy actor William S. Hart as Jim's nemesis, Cash Hawkins.
DeMille's lead actress from the 1914 Squaw Man, Winifred Kingston, was even featured in a bit part in this 1931 remake, of which DeMille claimed, "I love this story so much that as long as I live I will make it every 10 years." In actuality, DeMille was said to be tremendously depressed at the prospect of making the film again, and working with the difficult Velez, reportedly as tempestuous off screen as she was in her many onscreen roles as the "Mexican spitfire." But he was anxious to quickly get out of his contract to MGM by completing this final film for the studio.
The 1931 Squaw Man is often considered the weakest of the three DeMille productions, with its rather lethargic pacing and creaky dawn-of-sound technology. Early scenes in England are especially plodding, but the film quickly changes tone and becomes more engaging when Capt. James Wynnegate/Jim Carston travels to America and a feud develops between the cosmopolitan Englishman still tragically in love with Diana and the villainous Hawkins.
The original two Squaw Man productions had been cast with Native American actors, according to DeMille's wishes, to generate authenticity. But by the time of the third remake's release in 1931 the more standard Hollywood practice was to use non-Native Americans to play such roles, including Mexican actress Velez as Naturich. The film also shows signs of its outmoded views, laced with casual racism that equates Native-Americans with "primitivism" and suggests Naturich's race gives her a limited understanding of the modern world.
Producer/Director: Cecil B. DeMille
Screenplay: Lucien Hubbard, Lenore Coffee, Elsie Janis (based on the play by Edwin Milton Royle)
Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Production Design: Mitchell Leisen
Music: Herbert Stothart
Cast: Warner Baxter (Capt. James Wynnegate/Jim Carston), Lupe Velez (Naturich), Eleanor Boardman (Diana Kerhill), Charles Bickford (Cash Hawkins), Roland Young (Sir John Applegate), Paul Cavanagh (Henry), Raymond Hatton (Shorty).
by Felicia Feaster
The Squaw Man (1931)
The play opened in New York City, New York, USA on 23 October 1905 and closed 1 April 1906 after 222 performances. William S. Hart was the title character, and the cast also included George Fawcett and Mitchell Lewis who was also in this film version. The play had several revivals, the last in 1926.
This movie lost nearly $150,000 at the box office.
In his autobiography, Cecil B. DeMille wrote "I do not know whether M-G-M or I was more relieved that my contract had come to an end." The production was almost halted by the studio, but DeMille convinced them it would cost just as much to complete it as it would to stop it.
William Faversham and William S. Hart played the leading roles in the 1905 stage production of The Squaw Man. This film was Cecil B. DeMille's third version of the play. His first, also his first directorial effort, was released in 1914 and starred Dustin Farnum and Monroe Salisbury. DeMille followed the 1914 production with a 1918 remake, also entitled The Squaw Man, which starred Elliott Dexter and Ann Little A sequel to the original, The Squaw Man's Son, was released in 1917, was directed by E. J. Le Saint and starred Wallace Reid and Anita King (see below). According to a contemporary New York Times article, filming of the fox hunt sequences took place at the 16,000 acre Agoura Ranch in Agoura, CA. The Variety review mistakenly listed Charles Bickford's character as "Big Bill," and J. Farrell McDonald's as "Cash Hawkins." According to a biography of writer Lenore Coffee, DeMille brought her to work with Elsie Janis on the script because he felt that Janis, a former musical comedy star, was "talented but had no idea of story structure." Modern sources also relate that DeMille was less than enthusiastic about making this picture (the last film to satisfy his contract with M-G-M), a fact that has been attributed in part to poor revenue prospects and Loew's, Inc. president Nicholas Schenck's request that he cancel the production before it had begun. DeMille, in his autobiography, notes that he eventually got permission to shoot the doomed picture after arguing that the studio would have to pay as much to halt the picture as it would to continue it. As predicted, The Squaw Man lost nearly $150,000, according to DeMille. Following his disappointing experience with this production, DeMille wrote, "I do not know whether M-G-M or I was more relieved that my contract had come to an end." Most of this picture was filmed at Hot Springs Junction, Arizona, which was near the location that DeMille had rejected for his 1914 version.