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Film / The Squaw Man

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The Squaw Man is a 1931 film by Cecil B. DeMille.

Capt. James Wingate (Warner Baxter) is a British army officer from a noble family. His cousin is Henry, Earl of Kernhill. James is in love with Henry's wife Diana (Eleanor Boardman). Henry, who is an all-around heel, gets into a pickle when he steals money from a charitable fund and loses it in a get-rich-quick scheme. Luckily for Henry though, James is an idiot, and he takes the blame for the missing funds in order to save Diana from social embarrassment. James leaves hurriedly for America.

James winds up in Arizona, where he has success as a cattle rancher. He's still depressed, however, mourning the loss of Diana. He is brought out of despondency when a local Native American woman named Naturlich (Lupe Velez) saves his life, and soon after saves it again (it's a long story). They fall in love and marry, despite the disapproval of the local townspeople, and have a son. But James's past catches up to him and threatens their happiness.


Last film in Hollywood for Eleanor Boardman, a star of the silent era (The Crowd, Souls for Sale) whose career fizzled out like so many other silent stars in the talkie era.


  • The Alcoholic: Tabywana, Naturlich's father, who nearly sells off their cattle at an absurdly low price to Hawkins because he's so desperate for the bottle of whiskey in Hawkins' hand.
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: They do have them in Arizona where James has his ranch.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Naturlich shoots herself in the chest, lingering just long enough to die in Jim's arms.
  • Dirty Cop: Sheriff Hardy is in cahoots with evil Cash Hawkins to force Jim off of his land.
  • Downer Ending: With her son having been bundled off to England, and the sheriff's posse there to arrest her, Naturlich kills herself.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: James gets good and drunk after seeing a picture of Diana in some society magazine. He's so despondent that he doesn't even try to defend himself when Cash Hawkins shows up—which leads Naturlich to shoot and kill Hawkins.
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  • The Grand Hunt: Henry is thrown from his horse and killed while out on a fox hunt.
  • Honor Before Reason: James takes the blame for his slimy cousin's crime in order to save Diana from embarrassment. He greatly regrets this later.
  • New Old West: The film is set in the modern day, but we still see Native Americans with feathers, evil ranchers, bars with bat wing doors, and people riding around on horses.
  • The Remake: The third version of this story made by DeMille. He had made silent versions in 1914 and again in 1918. This film was just one of many remakes of silent films that were made in the early talkie era. (The 1914 was both the first feature film made in Hollywood and the first film directed by Cecil B. DeMille.)
  • Stealing from the Till: Henry embezzles from a charitable fun and blows the money on a get-rich-quick scheme.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Naturlich when she's trying to dry herself in front of a fire after being out in the rain.
  • You No Take Candle: The film has Naturlich speaking in absurdly racist pidgin English. It's especially ridiculous when one remembers that the film is set in the modern day so the Native Americans of the southwest would have been in contact with white people for decades.