AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
Name Occurs Before Title Offscreen Credit Print Viewed By AFI
The Squaw Man
Director: Cecil B. DeMille (Dir)
Release Date:   5 Sep 1931
Production Date:   early Feb--early Apr 1931
Duration (in mins):   105-106
Duration (in reels):   12
Print this page
Display Movie Summary

Cast:   Warner Baxter (Capt. James Wyngate, later known as Jim Carsten)  
    Lupe Velez (Naturich)  
    Eleanor Boardman (Lady Diana)  
    Charles Bickford (Cash Hawkins)  
    Roland Young (Sir John Applegate Kerhill)  
    Paul Cavanaugh (Henry, Earl of Kerhill)  
    Raymond Hatton (Shorty)  
    Julia Faye (Mrs. Chichester Jones)  
    De Witt Jennings (Sheriff Hardy)  
    J. Farrell MacDonald (Big Bill)  
    Mitchell Lewis (Tabywana)  
    Dickie Moore (Little Hal)  
    Victor Potel (Andy)  
    Frank Rice (Grouchy)  
    Eva Dennison (Dowager Lady Kerhill)  
    Lilian Bond (Babs)  
    Luke Cosgrave (Shanks)  
    Frank Hagney (Clark)  
    Lawrence Grant (General Stafford)  
    Harry Northrup (Butler)  
    Ed Brady (McSorley)  
    Chrispin Martin    
    Desmond Roberts (Hardwick)  

Summary: 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. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's, Inc.)
Distribution Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.  
Director: Cecil B. DeMille (Dir)
  Mitchell Leisen (Asst dir)
  Earl Haley (Asst dir)
Producer: Cecil B. DeMille (Prod)
Writer: Lucien Hubbard (Scr)
  Lenore Coffee (Scr)
  Elsie Janis (Dial)
Photography: Harold Rosson (Photog)
Art Direction: Mitchell Leisen (Art dir)
Film Editor: Anne Bauchens (Film ed)
Music: Herbert Stothart (Incidental mus by)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
Country: United States

Source Text: Based on the play The Squaw Man by Edwin Milton Royle (New York, 23 Oct 1905).
Authors: Edwin Milton Royle

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp. 7/9/1931 dd/mm/yyyy LP2451 Yes

Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Society
Subjects (Major): Embezzlement
  English in foreign countries
  Indians of North America
Subjects (Minor): Accidental death
  Child custody
  Fox hunts
  Land sales
  Snobs and snobbishness

Note: 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 (see above). DeMille followed the 1914 production with a 1918 remake, also entitled The Squaw Man , which starred Elliott Dexter and Ann Little (see above) 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 NYT article, filming of the fox hunt sequences took place at the 16,000 acre Agoura Ranch in Agoura, CA. The Var 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. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Film Daily   20 Sep 31   p. 10.
HF   14 Feb 31   p. 24.
HF   4 Apr 31   p. 24.
Motion Picture Herald   14 Jun 31   p. 28.
New York Times   19 Sep 31   p. 10.
New York Times   24 Apr 1932.   
Variety   22 Sep 31   p. 26.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
Advanced Search
Support our efforts to preserve hisotory of film
Help AFI Preserve Film History

© 2017 American Film Institute.
All rights reserved.
Terms of use.