Ramona (1928 film)

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Poster of Ramona (1928 film).jpg
Film poster
Directed byEdwin Carewe
Written byFinis Fox
Based onRamona
by Helen Hunt Jackson
StarringDolores del Río
Warner Baxter
Music by"Ramona" by Mabel Wayne and L. Wolfe Gilbert
CinematographyRobert Kurrle
Edited byJeanne Spencer
Inspiration Pictures
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • May 20, 1928 (1928-05-20)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageSilent (English intertitles)

Ramona is a 1928 American silent drama film directed by Edwin Carewe,[1] based on Helen Hunt Jackson's 1884 novel Ramona, and starring Dolores del Rio and Warner Baxter. This was the first United Artists film with a synchronized score and sound effect [2], but no dialogue, and so was not a talking picture.

The novel had been previously filmed by D. W. Griffith in 1910 with Mary Pickford, remade in 1916 with Adda Gleason, and again in 1936 with Loretta Young.



The film depicts Ramona, who is half Native American, as she is raised by a Mexican family. Ramona suffers racism and prejudice in her community, and when she finds out that she is half Native, she chooses to identify as a Native American instead of a Mexican American so that she can marry Alessandro, who is a Native as well. This romantic tragedy relays the tragic death of Ramona and Alessandro’s child at the hands of a Caucasian doctor, who refuses to help their child because of his skin color. Shortly after, the couple moves away, and Alessandro is killed by a white man for robbing him of his horse; Ramona eventually reunites with her childhood friend Felipe and starts a new life as a depressed woman. She is only able to recover from her depression and remember her feelings for Felipe when he sings a song from their childhood to restore her memory.


Parts of the film were shot in Zion National Park, Springdale, and Cedar Breaks National Monument, all in Utah.[3]:286


Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times found much to praise in what he called "an Indian love lyric": "This current offering is an extraordinarily beautiful production, intelligently directed and, with the exception of a few instances, splendidly acted. The scenic effects are charming.... The different episodes are told discreetly and with a good measure of suspense and sympathy. Some of the characters have been changed to enhance the dramatic worth of the picture, but this is pardonable, especially when one considers this subject as a whole."[4]


An article published by UCLA revealed that the 1928 film is believed to be the most authentic of the five film adaptations of Ramona since the director Edwin Carewe was part Chickasaw and Dolores del Rio was raised in Mexico.[5] Ramona is differentiated from most films with a typical Hollywood ending because of its authentic cultural values embedded throughout.[6] An article by Indian Country Today revealed the fact that Carewe discovered del Rio in Mexico and invited her to Hollywood to perform in his film. Many film enthusiasts see Carewe as del Rio’s steppingstone to fame in Hollywood as an actor and singer. Del Rio recorded the film's theme song, "Ramona." It was not used in the 1936 version.[7]

Helen Hunt Jackson and Edwin Carewe shared a goal of exposing the mistreatment of the Native Americans at the hands of the U.S. Federal Government through the means of Ramona. Both the book and the film, however, were popularized because of their dramatic, romantic, and cultural aspects.[8]

Preservation status[edit]

For decades, Ramona was thought to be lost until archivists rediscovered it in the Národní Filmový Archiv in Prague in 2010. The Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division of the Library of Congress later transferred Ramona’s highly flammable original nitrate film to acetate safety stock. Library of Congress Moving Image Curator Rob Stone was in charge of the challenge of converting Ramona’s Czech inter titles back into English. The only available copy was given to the Library of Congress to replicate and then send back to the Czech Republic.

The restored version of the 1928 film had its world premiere in the Billy Wilder Theater with the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra playing live at the University of California, Los Angeles on March 29, 2014. Carewe's older brother Finis Fox had written Ramona's screenplay and created its intertitles.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Progressive Silent Film List: Ramona". Silent Era. Retrieved June 2, 2008.
  2. ^ "United Artists", Wikipedia, September 23, 2019, retrieved September 25, 2019
  3. ^ D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood Came to Town: a History of Moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN 978-14-2360-5874.
  4. ^ Mordaunt Hall, "An Indian Love Lyric", New York Times, May 15, 1928, accessed February 1, 2011
  5. ^ "'Ramona' Resurrected: Long Lost 1928 Film Adaptation Resurfaces in L.A." Mediascape Blog. April 16, 2014. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  6. ^ Hall, Mordaunt (May 15, 1928). "THE SCREEN; A Gloomy Comedy". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  7. ^ "Recovered and Restored: 'Ramona,' Silent Movie by Chickasaw Filmmaker". IndianCountryToday.com.
  8. ^ Roger; erson; Sept. 29; 1988. "Was Helen Hunt Jackson's Ramona real?". www.sandiegoreader.com. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  9. ^ Aleiss, Angela (March 27, 2014). "Recovered and Restored: Ramona, Silent Movie by Chickasaw Filmmaker". Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved April 3, 2014.

External links[edit]