The silent film “The Squaw Man,” accompanied live by renowned theater organist Blaine Gale, will have a one-time screening at Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library auditorium on Friday, Feb. 28, at 7 p.m.
Doors open at 6 p.m. and admission is free, but seating is limited. Children ages 8 and older are welcome. No food or drink is permitted in the auditorium.
The screening will celebrate the centennial of the first motion picture filmed in Hollywood by showing Cecil B. DeMille’s 1914 film starring Dustin Farnum and Red Wing, a Native American. Gale, who has performed frequently at the Egyptian Theater in Ogden and at the Organ Loft in Salt Lake City, will accompany the film. Original items from the making of “The Squaw Man,” from BYU’s Cecil B. DeMille Archive, will be on display in conjunction with the film showing.
The story for “The Squaw Man,” taken from a popular Broadway play by Edwin Milton Royle, deals with a British Army officer who suddenly leaves England under the cloud of having embezzled charity funds and escapes to the American West to begin a new life. In reality, he has taken the blame for his cousin’s misdeed out of pity for his cousin’s wife, with whom he is in love. In the wilds of Wyoming, he is saved from death in a snow storm by a Native American, whom he marries. Only then does the woman he loves arrive in Wyoming to announce the death of her husband. Filmed in less than three weeks’ time, the film cost $15,400 to make, while its box office take was an astounding $244,700.
The family of the film’s iconic director and producer DeMille donated his large collection of scripts, correspondence, photographs and production art to Brigham Young University in 1977. Considered by many to be one of the most successful filmmakers ever, DeMille’s career spanned five decades beginning in 1914 with the making of “The Squaw Man,” to 1957, with the release of his best remembered film, “The Ten Commandments.”
Of his 70 feature-length motion pictures, only a handful lost money. In 1913, failed playwright DeMille, together with vaudevillian Jesse L. Lasky and Samuel Goldwyn, formed the Jesse L. Lasky Feature Play Co. in New York City. This company later became Paramount Pictures. “The Squaw Man” was the company’s first motion picture after arriving in Los Angeles in 1913, confirming the future success of fledging director DeMille.
Friday night’s screening is part of the ongoing BYU Motion Picture Archive Film Series, now in its 15th season, co-sponsored by the L. Tom Perry Special Collections, the Friends of the Harold B. Lee Library and Dennis and Linda Gibson.
For details, contact James D’Arc, curator, BYU Motion Picture Archive, (801) 422-6371, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Writer: Brett Lee