10 March 2008 | Michael_Elliott
*** (out of 4)
Historically important film from Paramount was the studios last silent film but it was also their first attempt at Technicolor. The majority of the film is in Technicolor but there are a few sequences, which are in B&W and this was done after the film's backers realized that it was costing too much to shoot in color so they immediately switched over to B&W. It's also worth noting that the film was originally shown in a 70mm process known as Magnascope but that version is now lost and all that survives is the 35mm version.
Richard Dix plays Wing Foot, a Navajo Indian who is forced as a child to attend a white man's school where he is constantly harassed due to this race. It's at this school where he meets the eventual love of his life, Corn Blossom (Julie Carter), a Pueblo Indian. After the harassment gets to be too much, Wing Foot returns home to see that his people have now turned their backs on him, calling him a Redskin because he's not one of theirs anymore. Even worse is that his love for Corn Blossom is causing problems in her tribe because the Navajo and Pueblo tribes hate one another. As you can tell, race is a very big factor in this film, which I think bites off a little bit more than it can chew. There are a lot of difficult questions asked and the film offers up some unique thoughts but the really bad ending comes out of no where and happens much to fast for all these questions to really be answered. The film runs 82-minutes but I think it needed to be at least twenty-minutes longer just to try and tie up some of the loose ends. Even with that said, this is a very solid little picture that manages to be funny at times but for the most part things are handled very seriously. Dix turns in a wonderful performance as the man caught between two races and another battle with another tribe. This is the first time I've seen him in a silent picture and he actually comes off very good. Carter is decent in her role but not up to Dix's league. I've read that Louise Brooks shot three weeks of footage before being fired and going to Germany so it's a shame she wasn't able to finish the film. There's some very nice cinematography and there's even some nice suspense during the ending even though it's pretty stupid and far fetched. The Technicolor process on this film looked incredible and really seemed a lot better than some of the early Technicolor films that would come out in the early 1930s. While this is a historically important film, it isn't as great as I was hoping for but there's still plenty to enjoy here.