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 ...
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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 <email@example.com>
Film adaptation of Zane Grey's western story "The Vanishing American"; once upon a time; this was considered a very sympathetic "History of the Indian Race". Presently, it's worth is much more subjective; it would be entirely appropriate for modern viewers to take offensive, especially Native Americans.
The film's highlight is the opening prologue; for its time, a very nicely researched, and extraordinarily photographed, history of Native Americans. Edgar Schoenbaum and Harry Perry are the cinematographers capturing Monument Valley, the Grand Canyon, and other places looking exquisitely beautiful. Some of the footage seems excitingly authentic, for example, the "Cliff Dwellers" segments.
As the film jumps to the present, Richard Dix (as Nophaie the Warrior) emerges as the "hero"; arguably, he neither looks nor acts like a real Native American. The "epic" story becomes a decidedly more boring tale involving horse thief Noah Berry (as Booker). There is a lovely white woman, of course, to turn Dix' head; she's Lois Wilson (as Marion Warner). Ms. Wilson also converts Mr. Dix to Christianity; and, he is certainly not a hard sell.
***** The Vanishing American (10/15/25) George B. Seitz ~ Richard Dix, Lois Wilson, Noah Berry
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