The Squaw Man (1931 film)

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The Squaw Man
The Squaw Man (1931).jpg
Directed by Cecil B. DeMille
Produced by Cecil B. DeMille
Written by Edwin Milton Royle
Screenplay by Lucien Hubbard
Lenore J. Coffee
Elsie Janis
Based on The Squaw Man
Starring Warner Baxter
Lupe Velez
Eleanor Boardman
Music by Herbert Stothart
Cinematography Harold Rosson
Edited by Anne Bauchens
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • September 5, 1931 (1931-09-05)
Running time
107 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Squaw Man is an American 1931 Pre-Code film directed by Cecil B. DeMille. It was the third version of the same play that he filmed, and the first in sound. It stars Warner Baxter in the leading role.


A British army officer Captain James Wingate (Warner Baxter) is left disgraced when he takes the blame for his cousin Henry's (Paul Cavanagh) misappropriation of the regiment's charitable fund. He heads to the Wild West of the United States, taking over a ranch in Montana where he marries a beautiful Indian squaw Naturich (Lupe Velez) and has a son Hal (Dickie Moore). Years later, Henry is killed in a horse riding accident. Sir John Applegate Kerhill receives a telegram informing him of James's whereabouts. He arrives with Lady Diana (Eleanor Boardman), with whom James has been secretly in love. However, he remains true to Naturich and introduces her as his wife to the surprised guests. Later, Sir John convinces James to let him take Hal back with him to England where the boy will be educated in the finest schools. Upon having her son taken against her wishes, a grieving Naturich goes into the boy's room where she shoots herself while holding a toy wooden horse she made for him on his birthday. She soon dies in James's arms.


Production and release[edit]

DeMille's two previous versions of the story were released in 1914 and in 1918. DeMille was keen to remake his earlier successes and was the driving force behind the project, at a time when a cycle of big-budget Western films In Old Arizona, Billy the Kid and The Big Trail were being released.

The film rights proved difficult and expensive to acquire, as MGM had to negotiate with both Paramount Pictures and Warner Brothers.[1] Many of the scenes were shot on location in Arizona. As the cost of the film escalated, MGM executive Nicholas Schenck tried to abandon the production, but he was persuaded that this would be equally costly to do and the film was finished as planned.[2] It ultimately cost over $722,000 to make and lost nearly $150,000 in its initial release.[3] In spite of its financial losses, and troubled production, the film was well-regarded by critics. This was the last film on DeMille's contract with MGM before he returned to Paramount Pictures. His next work was the enormously successful 1932 film The Sign of the Cross which kick-started his career again.


  1. ^ Birchard p.248-249
  2. ^ Birchard p.249
  3. ^ Birchard p.248


  • Birchard, Robert S. Cecil B. DeMille's Hollywood. University Press of Kentucky, 2004.

External links[edit]