The Squaw Man (1914)
Starring: Dustin Farnum
Plot: Captain Wynnegate leaves England, accepting the blame for embezzling charity funds though knowing that his cousin Sir Henry is guilty. Out West he and the Indian girl Nat-U-Rich save each other from the evil cattle rustler Cash Hawkins and marry. But all doesn’t seem to end well.
Due to the fact that this was the first feature film in Hollywood (as all the previous projects were short film subjects) which was an adaptation of a novel and stage play, you have to give it time and credit if you are an aspiring writer or director. It was made in 1914 when Cecil B. DeMille was 34 years old and was the same year that Charlie Chaplin made his screen debut with the keystone cops in a short subject titled ‘Making A Living’ on the 9th February. He may have been somewhat Victorian in his style of directing, but he was first and foremost a stage director that translated those skills onto the screen. Most of his films are quite wordy, lacking of pace and wooden (with the exception of ‘Samson and Delilah’), but he was a master of spectacle, and could shock his audience of the time. As well as being DeMille’s debut feature film, it was also Hal Roach’s debut film as an actor who went on to become the master of short film comedy.
Starring: Mary Pickford, Henry B. Walthall
Director: D.W. Griffith
Plot: Ramona, a young girl growing up on her adoptive mother’s ranch in California, falls in love with the Indian Alessandro. When Ramona is denied permission to marry Alessandro, the two lovers elope, only to find a life of great hardship and unhappiness amidst the bigotry and greed of the white landowners.
Griffith had an affinity for RAMONA, having appeared in two stage versions of the novel and having hectored his bosses into paying a hundred dollars for screen rights — this two-reeler was advertised as the most expensive picture ever made. It falls into the class of Griffith films in which he expresses sympathy for minorities and suggests that the best thing to do with people is to leave them alone. This statement may come as a bit of a shocker to those whose only knowledge of Griffith is knowing about the racism of BIRTH OF A NATION, but not to those who are familiar with more of his work: BROKEN BLOSSOMS also falls into this category, as does BOAN.