The Squaw Man (1914 film)

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For other uses, see The Squaw Man (disambiguation).
The Squaw Man
A scene from The Squaw Man
Directed by Oscar Apfel
Cecil B. DeMille
Produced by Cecil B. DeMille
Jesse L. Lasky
Written by Beulah Marie Dix (scenario)
Story by Beulah Marie Dix
Based on The Squaw Man 
by Edwin Milton Royle
Starring Dustin Farnum
Cinematography Alfred Gandolfi
Edited by Mamie Wagner
Distributed by Famous Players-Lasky Corporation
Release dates
  • February 12, 1914 (1914-02-12) (United States)
Running time
74 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent
English intertitles
Box office $244,700
The Squaw Man
Contemporary magazine advertisement.

The Squaw Man (known as The White Man in the UK) is a 1914 silent western drama film starring Dustin Farnum and co-directed by Cecil B. DeMille.

Production background[edit]

Directed by Oscar Apfel and Cecil B. DeMille and produced by DeMille and Jesse L. Lasky, the screenplay was adapted by Beulah Marie Dix from the 1905 stage play, of the same name, written by Edwin Milton Royle.

This first screen version of the story was the legendary DeMille's first movie assignment. It also holds the distinction of being the first feature-length movie filmed specifically in Hollywood. DeMille wanted to emphasize the outdoors and wanted to shoot the movie in a place that had exotic scenery and great vistas. Initially he traveled to Flagstaff, Arizona to film the movie.[1] After seeing the vast amount of mountains near Flagstaff; the filming was moved to the Los Angeles area. It was not the first film to be made in the Los Angeles area, and film historians agree that shorts had previously been filmed in Hollywood, with In Old California considered the earliest. Harbor scenes were shot in San Pedro, California and the western saloon set was built beside railroad tracks in the San Fernando Valley. Footage of cattle on the open range were shot at Keen Camp near Idyllwild, California, while snow scenes were shot at Mount Palomar.[2] Cecil B. DeMille felt that lighting in a movie was extremely important and viewed lighting as the visual and emotional foundation to build out his image. He believed that lighting was to a film as “music is to an opera”.[3]

The Squaw Man went on to become the only movie successfully filmed three times by the same director/producer, DeMille. He filmed a silent remake in 1918, and a talkie version in 1931. The Squaw Man was 74 minutes long and generated $244,700 in profit.[3]


James Wynnegate (Dustin Farnum) and his cousin, Henry (Monroe Salisbury), upper class Englishmen, have been made trustees for an orphans’ fund. Henry loses money in a bet at a derby and embezzles money from “the fund” to pay off his debts. When war office officials are informed of the money missing from “the fund”, they pursue James, but he successfully escapes to Wyoming. There, James rescues Nat-U-Rich (Lillian St. Cyr), daughter to the chief of the Utes tribe, from local outlaw Cash Hawkins (William Elmer). Hawkins plans to exact his revenge on James, but has his plans thwarted by Nat-U-Ritch, who fatally shoots him. Later, James gets into an accident in the mountains and needs to be rescued. Nat-U-Ritch tracks him down and carries him back to safety. As she nurses him back to health, they become lovers and have a child. During an exploration in the Alps, Henry falls off a cliff. Before he succumbs to his injuries, Henry signs a letter of confession proclaiming James’ innocence in the embezzlement. Before Henry's widow Lady Diana (Winifred Kingston) and others arrive at James and Nat-U-Ritch’s residence in Wyoming to tell James about the news, the Sheriff recovers the murder weapon that was used against Cash Hawkins inside of the couples’ residence. Nat-U-Rich, facing the possibilities of losing both her son and her freedom, decides to take her own life. [3]


The main character James Wynnegate played by Dustin Farnum, was cast as the hero for the film. His wife in real life Winifred Kingston, was also a well known actress. She played the English love interest.[3] Red Wing was part of the Ho Chunk Nation and she played the American Indian wife.


A non-Native American actor by the name of Joseph Singleton played the role of Tabywana, Nat-U-Ritch's father. Lillian St. Cyr a Native American was cast to play the role of a Native American from the Utes tribe. She is famously noted for her role as Princess Redwing. Lillian St. Cyr along with her husband James Young Deer have been regarded by many as the first Native American power couple in Hollywood.[4] DeMille selected Lillian St. Cyr to play her role because he wanted an Nat-U-Ritch to be played by an authentic Native American. At this point of time in the silent film era, films that were based on the experiences of Native Americans were very popular. The central theme of this film was miscegenation. In the state of California, anti-miscegenation laws existed until 1948. Although African Americans couldn’t legally marry whites in the state of California during the filming process, marriages between Native Americans and whites were recognized. Though there were more than enough to Native American actors to play the role of Native Americans at the moment, whites were mostly cast as Indian characters. Whenever Native Americans actors played Indian roles, they performed in redface.[1][5]

The costuming choices that Native American filmmakers made were intentionally traditionally inaccurate. Native Americans influenced the cultural perception of Native Americans by satirizing the stereotypical depictions of Native Americans. Young Deer and his wife Lillian St. Cyr transformed the way Native American characters were represented. The characters they created and portrayed were sympathetic in much more complex ways than any other silent-era filmmaker.[6] However, Joanna Hearne says otherwise. She claimed that Native American themed silent films did not alter in any way the dominant perception of Native Americans. Hearne also goes on to note that there were a great number of films that displayed the Native American experience from many different perspectives. However, she does acknowledge the involvement of Native American writers, filmmakers, actors during this time period.[1]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Raheja, Michelle H. (2011). "2". Reservation Reelism Redfacing, Visual Sovereignty, and Representations of Native Americans in Film. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803234451. 
  2. ^ Birchard, Robert S. (2004). Cecil B. DeMille's Hollywood. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. pp. 8–9. ISBN 0-8131-2324-0. 
  3. ^ a b c d Kramer, Fritzi. "The Squaw Man (1914) A Silent Film Review".  External link in |website= (help)
  4. ^ Howe, edited by LeAnne; Markowitz,, Harvey; Cummings, Denise K. (2013). "1". Seeing red : Hollywood's pixeled skins : American Indians and film. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press. ISBN 1611860814. 
  5. ^ Aleiss, Angela (2005). "2". Making the white man's Indian : native Americans and Hollywood movies ([Nachdr.]. ed.). Westport, Conn.: Praeger. ISBN 0313361339. 
  6. ^ Raheja, Michelle H. (2011). "1". Reservation Reelism Redfacing, Visual Sovereignty, and Representations of Native Americans in Film. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803234451. 

External links[edit]