Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Awkward adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about a romance between two Navajo Indians. It's not so much a problem of "political correctness" that makes the movie hard to watch, but a weak script and plain old bad acting. Ramon Novarro (as the title character) is excited to be attending his first Great Sing Dance. He's clearly meant to be a youthful innocent, but he's not dumb, as we see in the movie's best scene which involves him dealing with a couple of pushy tourists from Cleveland. He meets up with Slim Girl (Lupe Valez), a Navajo who was raised and schooled by whites and now uses the name Lily. She's a bit of a slut (mostly with white men--the Navajo men won't touch her), and she comes on strong with naive Novarro. He knows she has a bad reputation, but he says she's just "different" and decides rather quickly that they need to get married before they have sex. She has other ideas and seduces him with whisky to get him into the sack (in the great outdoors). The next morning, apparently mortified at his behavior, he has run off, so Velez goes back to her brutal white lover (William B. Davidson). Time passes and they meet again; this time they marry, but she proves no good at doing "women's work" and the two aren't very happy so back she goes to Davidson. Novarro goes after them with a bow and arrow, and tragedy ensues. Much of the supporting cast is made up of Native Americans, but the star-crossed couple is played by Mexican actors Novarro and Velez; they don't feel out of place, but they seem to be overacting while the rest of the largely non-professional cast are barely acting at all, and the clash of styles is occasionally excruciating. [TCM]

No comments: