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Henry B. Walthall,
Francis J. Grandon
I was surprised to find that the song Ramona made so famous as the theme in the 1927 silent that gave Dolores Del Rio her most notable part in silent films was not included. It was such a very big hit, but I suppose there were copyright problems. In any event Alfred Newman's score for this version of Ramona is one of many things to recommend it.
Another is the stunning color cinematography, this version of Ramona is the first western to be in technicolor. And apparently the color has held up well or the film had a good restoration. The cast is led by Loretta Young in the title role and Don Ameche in his breakout role as Alessandro the Indian who falls for Ramona and she him.
Young who is a mixed race girl who has been raised at Pauline Frederick's hacienda in California of the 1870s has finds out about herself and confesses love for Ameche who is a top hand around the place. That earns her and Ameche banishment, but they go and start a farm of their own. But it's only the beginning of their troubles from newly arriving American settlers. Indians were specifically exempted from the Homestead Act and I'll say no more.
Standing out in the supporting cast is Jane Darwell who is doing her part as the kindly pioneer woman who takes in Ameche and Young as a dress rehearsal for Ma Joad. She has her standards, but since Ameche and Young are Christians they're welcome in her house. In fact the three of them are the most 'Christian' characters in the film.
One part that makes no sense to me is Kent Taylor as Frederick's son and soon to be patron of the hacienda. He's rather insipid and poorly defined as a character.
Henry King is a director who should be given more study. Because he was studio contract director as opposed to an independent like Ford or Hitchcock he's given short shrift. Look down the list of his credits and you'll see some great classics. Other than Taylor and not his or Taylor's fault since the character is poorly defined he got great performances from his cast.
Interracial love was one daring topic for 1936 or 1927 or even in silent versions before that. Ramona is a fine film of social significance and a great tragic romantic love story.
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