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The Vanishing American (1925)

 -  Western  -  15 February 1926 (USA)
7.0
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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 223 users  
Reviews: 11 user | 3 critic

History, as portrayed in this film, has been a succession of conquests of stronger races over weaker ones. As played out on the stage of Monument Valley, long ago, tribes of Indians ... See full summary »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Nophaie
...
Marion Warner
...
Booker
Malcolm McGregor ...
Earl Ramsdale
Nocki ...
Indian Boy
Shannon Day ...
Gekin Yashi
Charles Crockett ...
Amos Halliday
Bert Woodruff ...
Bart Wilson
Bernard Siegel ...
Do Etin
Guy Oliver ...
Joe Ryan ...
Jay Lord
Charles Stevens ...
Shoie
Bruce Gordon ...
Rhur
Richard Howard ...
Glendon
John Webb Dillon ...
Naylor
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Storyline

History, as portrayed in this film, has been a succession of conquests of stronger races over weaker ones. As played out on the stage of Monument Valley, long ago, tribes of Indians defeated the ancient cliff dwellers; then came the Europeans to conquer the Indians. Now, in the early 20th Century, a tribe of Navajo live on a reservation overseen by an Indian-hating agent, Booker. He and his men steal the best Indian horses for their own profit. Nophaie, a tribal leader, complains to Booker's higher-ups, but he is unable to gain fair treatment from the whites. When World War I breaks out, an Army captain comes west in search of the horses that Booker was supposed to have bought from the Indians for a fair price. Marian Warner, the teacher at the Indian School, has befriended Nophaie, teaching him to read; she convinces him that the Great War is a fight for a more just world, and that, when that world comes, the Indian will be better treated. Nophaie not only brings horses for the Army,... Written by George S. Davis <mgeorges@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Western

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

15 February 1926 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Alma Cabocla  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Stevens - an Apache Indian who is the grandson of legendary warrior Geronimo - plays Shoie in this film, and played Quah-Tan in the 1955 version (The Vanishing American (1955)). See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood's Magical Island: Catalina (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

Thought-Provoking, Resourceful, & Detailed - An Excellent Movie
9 February 2005 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

This excellent movie far transcends its own genre, with a resourceful and detailed production that makes for a worthy treatment of some thought-provoking themes. Adapted from the Zane Grey novel, it easily does justice to the interesting story, but it is much more than just a good melodrama. Ambitous in its scale, in its time-span, and in its themes, it puts the main story into a context that is as interesting to watch as it is challenging to many of the common conceptions about the history of the American West.

The main story features Richard Dix as a Native American on a reservation, who must contend with a wide range of persons from the 'white' races. Dix succeeds in making his character interesting, believable, and sympathetic. In particular, he does well with portraying the inner torment and longings of a perceptive and capable man who is forced by his environment to keep a lot of things inside.

The 'white' characters work well, and they are well-chosen so as to avoid a simplistic portrayal of those who went west. Noah Beery plays the villainous Booker effectively, making his ill intentions clear even when his character is at his most charming, yet at the same making it believable that such a reprehensible character could so often gain the upper hand. Lois Wilson is rather meek, but she works well with Dix in the relationship that is at the center of the story.

All of that would be good enough (and it doesn't even mention the beautiful scenery and photography in Monument Valley), but what makes the movie even better is that it is set in a broader context, which places the lengthy, heart-rending clash of cultures in the American West into a sweeping, far more comprehensive picture of the unending struggle of human cultures and societies as they rise and fall through the centuries. It balances a number of perspectives, and believably shows how complex the interplay between different cultures can be.

The lengthy prologue, often detailed and interesting in itself, paints a convincing and often harrowing picture of the nature of human societies in their struggles and rivalries through the ages. It adds a depth rarely seen to the eventual conflicts between the expanding USA and the Native American nations, and even if it were made today, it would be a bold statement that challenges stereotypes of all kinds. True indeed is the movie's theme that human cultures come and go, and that those standing strong today will someday pass away, with only the earth itself remaining always.

This movie surely deserves to be much better-known, for its top quality production of some often challenging material, its interesting story, and its themes that are worthy of careful and honest consideration. If it were filmed today, some of the details would probably be handled differently, but that is to a large degree a matter of style or fashion. The specific details are far less important than the movie's impressive depth and quality.


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