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Iola's Promise (1912)

Iola, the little Indian girl, is held captive by a gang of cutthroats, from whose clutches and abuse she is rescued by Jack Harper, a prospector. She is truly grateful to Jack, for she ... See full summary »


D.W. Griffith


Belle Taylor


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Cast overview:
Mary Pickford ... Iola
Alfred Paget ... Jack Harper
Frank Evans Frank Evans ... Jack's Partner
Dorothy Bernard Dorothy Bernard ... Jack's Sweetheart
Frank Opperman Frank Opperman ... Jack's Sweetheart's Father
Kate Toncray Kate Toncray ... Jack's Sweetheart's Mother
Charles Hill Mailes ... Jack's Sweetheart's Father
J. Jiquel Lanoe J. Jiquel Lanoe ... The Medicine Man (uncredited)


Iola, the little Indian girl, is held captive by a gang of cutthroats, from whose clutches and abuse she is rescued by Jack Harper, a prospector. She is truly grateful to Jack, for she regards him as something different from the white people she has seen. Jack's sweetheart and her father are parties of a wagon-train headed for this place, and as luck has been against him, he is somewhat gloomy. Iola learns the reason, and promises to help him find gold. He is amused at this and says "Will you?" "Yes." "Cross your heart?" This cross-your-heart action mystifies the little Indian. She thinks it is a sort of tribe insignia and tells her people that "Crossheart" people are all right. Iola surely pays her debt of gratitude, not only in finding gold, but in giving her life to protect Jack's sweetheart from her own people, who are embittered against all whites. Written by Moving Picture World synopsis

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Romance







Release Date:

14 March 1912 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Biograph Company See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film is posted online to the Library of Congress' National Screening Room. See more »


Referenced in Mary Pickford: The Muse of the Movies (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

Serio-comic Short Not Among Griffith's Best
6 November 2018 | by bobliptonSee all my reviews

Hunky prospector Alfred Paget rescues Indian maiden Mary Pickford from gang rape. He takes her to his cabin and she fears the worst, but he gives her something to eat and heads out; not only does he have gold to look for, but his fiancee, Dorothy Bernard is arriving soon with her family. Miss Pickford immediately falls in love with Paget and follows him about, as he does his work. She promises to let him know if she finds any gold.

Mary returns to her tribe. They have just learned of the approaching settlers. They set out to massacre them, and prepare to burn to death Miss Bernard and her father, Charles Mailes.

Griffith again offers a view of Whites and Indians that show a very human mix of good and evil among all sorts of people. Although undoubtedly a racist by modern standards, he quite obviously feels more sympathy for Indians than many of his contemporary film-makers, and the Indian attack of the settlers and their savagery to the survivors takes place after the attempted rape. Miss Pickford offers a wide-ranging performance, from terror, to comic devotion to selfless heroism. That performance makes the movie a bit uneven compared to Griffith's other Biograph shorts. I attribute that to the treatment by occasional Griffith screenwriter Belle Taylor, whose other scripts for the Master are likewise not among my favorites.

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