The Squaw Man (1931)

Passed   |    |  Western

The Squaw Man (1931) Poster

Jim Wyngate, an English aristocrat, comes to the American West under a cloud of suspicion for embezzlement actually committed by his cousin Lord Henry. In Wyoming, Wyngate runs afoul of ... See full summary »


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13 September 2012 | Michael_Elliott
Great Performances But Not Quite As Good as the 1914 Version
The Squaw Man (1931)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

This here was Cecil B. DeMille's third attempt at telling Edwin Milton Royle's play. This time out it's Warner Baxter who plays Jim Carston, a British man who is ran out of his country so he heads to the United States and out West. Once there he crosses a rival landowner but things take a turn for the worse when he falls in love with an Indian woman (Lupe Velez), which is a big no-no. This version from DeMille offers up a terrific cast and I think the racial issues are a lot more out front here but I really can't say that this was any sort of improvement over the 1914 version, which I've seen. All but the last reel is lost from the 1918 version so it's impossible to compare all three but this third version features quite a few problems. I think the film's biggest problem is the pacing because at times it moves along at a very slow pace. This includes the early stuff in Britain, which could have been completely left out and I think it would have helped. I also thought some of the stuff in the West dragged during spots but there's no question that the film is still worth viewing for the performances alone. Baxter was extremely good and believable in his part and there's certainly no doubt that he fit the tough guy role just fine. Charles Bickford is excellent as always and we get nice support from Roland Young, Paul Cavanagh and a young Dickie Moore. Velez easily steals the show as she's terrific in each scene she's in. Her beauty is on full display and while I'm sure some might be offended by the way the Indian is played, I thought the performance itself was very good. DeMille delivers a decent picture but at the same time one can't help but wish he had left this alone and attempted something else.

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