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starring Richard Dix and Lois Wilson
December 1925

"It might have been one of the outstanding pictures of the screen. Impressive, gloriously beautiful in its natural settings, a fine and worthy theme, with an original score worth the price of admission itself. Yet, robbed of greatness by mawkishly sentimental and overwritten titles and mediocre direction of its intimate scenes.

Our regret is that its direction did not fulfill its tremendous possibilities, and our outstanding disappointment is that some parts of it, especially the badly overdrawn characterization of a movie-villain by that heretofore fine actor, Noah Beery, will permit the film cynic to lean over and whisper "Why do they do it?"

The film opens with some very fine and spectacular episodes of the cliff-dwellers and their conquerors. The actual story begins in the third reel with the opening of the modern story. Once the plot is under way, it is an interesting narrative of a noble Indian who goes to France to fight the white man's battle and returns home to be projected into an episode in which government agents have stolen his people's property to the last blade of grass and abuse their women. Pretending to be based on historical facts, this sequence is really unpardonable and improbable beyond words.

This picture isn't great enough artistically to weather the blow of a tragic ending what will probably send the Dix fans home in tears.

However, Richard's work is fine and sincere. He can check up the picture as an artistic success for himself. To that extent, it's a feather in his cap.

You won't waste your money or your evening with this picture, and you need not be afraid to take the little folks along - also an extra handkerchief.

starring Richard Dix and Lois Wilson
January 1926

"The Vanishing American," the new Paramount production, is a beautiful, somber saga of the rise and fall of the American Indian. It is not a picture for those romantic souls who want their Indians clean, dashing, and interestingly primitive, but it is an authentic, pictorially perfect film, telling a sad story a little too faithfully.

Of course, there is always a question as to just how much rose color should be added to make things less plausible and more pleasant, and in this instance, George B. Seitz, the director, has chosen to be authentic rather than thrilling. The disintegration of a race has seemed dramatic enough to him to be able to stand by itself, with only the support of a very meager plot, against a background of the most stupendous beauty that I have ever seen photographed.

In fact, most of the picture rises above the story, which strays from fact to fiction and back again in a most bewildering way. Some time during the third or fourth reel, a modern plot rudely intrudes on the dignified procession of a race, and a very ordinary Western story of a good girl, a bad man, and a handsome young Indian takes charge of the remainder of the film. To be sure, there are interesting bits in this, but even they are pushed about by the disjointed action.

Richard Dix is the only member of the cast who is not entirely eclipsed by his surroundings, always excluded the real Indians, of course. On so tremendous a stage, even the best of actors might blur into the background, but Mr. Dix has been wise enough to make himself a part of the picture rather than to endeavor to stand out against it. At not time is he the usual, pleasant, smiling Mr. Dix who steps in and out of sport roadsters so easily. He has become, as Nophaie, one of a waning people making a last flurry of protest against the civilization surrounding them. He plays with dignity and reserve, and seems, on the whole, more like a real Indian than many actors I have seen who have that sort of role. They usually look like Al Jolson in blackface about to burst into a "Mammy" song. Some of Mr. Dix's close-ups were a little trying, but not once did he fall into stagy, conventional attitudes. He didn't fold his arms once, to my knowledge, nor did he wrap a blanket around himself and look toward the setting sun. And there was a surprising but pleasing scarcity of "heap bigs" in the subtitles.

Noah Beery, as the bad man, seemed a little too leering for a modern story. I think that all along, he thought he was in a story of the California gold rush. His hair, clothes and general villainy caused that impression.

Lois Wilson, as Marion Warner, the school-teacher, loved by Nophaie, didn't in the least look like a little desert flower, and she patted a great many Indian children at every opportunity.
Malcolm MacGregor had nothing to do as a young lieutenant in the army.

The Indians themselves are wonderful, especially one small boy known only as The Son of Man Hammer. In fact, educationally and scenically, "The Vanishing American" surpasses any other American story that I have seen, but don't expect a glint of steel and flying sparks. Look instead for a once-wild people, calmed and bitterly facing the inevitable.

starring Richard Dix and Lois Wilson
December 1925

This attempt to visualize the tragedy of the dying race of redskins proved keenly disappointing to us. Ever since "The Covered Wagon" was pronounced an epic picture by the critics, motion picture producers have been trying to dash off epics. As you may guess, it isn't possible to make epics on schedule. Not even Hollywood can do it.

To state the facts of the case baldly: the story of Zane Grey does not stand being magnified to the proportions necessary for a superspecial. Grey wrote a romance of an Indian, Nophaie, and a young teacher on the redskin reservation, Marion Warner. Nophaie gets himself in trouble when he attempts to save his own race from the unscrupulous thievery of the whites. But the World War comes along, and Nophaie not only turns over the Indian horses for war purposes but gets most of the reservation to enlist. Nophaie distinguishes himself in Flanders, but, when he returns, he finds that the looting of Indian property has continued in his absence. The Indians rise in rebellion and attack the local settlement, but Nophaie gives his life to save the whites. Thus the picture ends with the tragic death of the redskin hero, altho there is an indication that the broken-hearted teacher may ultimately find solace in the love of a young army officer.

In their attempt to elevate an average story to superform, three reels of film have been tacked on the start of the picture to show the gradual collapse of the Indian race. The romance itself doesn't get under way until the fourth reel, and then it stumbles along, tripped up every now and then by atrociously flowery subtitles.

Richard Dix does very well, considering the difficulties of his role. LoisWilson is so so, the real honors going to a little Indian boy, billed simply as the son of Man Hammer.

For more information, see "The Vanishing American" as one of our "Featured Silent Films"

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