MoMA | 11 West 53rd Street
1929–30. USA. Includes scenes from Sport of Many Lands, Song of the Roses, The Show of Shows, The Mysterious Island, And How, and The Jazz Rehearsal. 35mm compilation print courtesy George Eastman House. Slient. 10 min.
1929. USA. Directed by Victor Schertzinger. Screenplay by Elizabeth Pickett. With Richard Dix, Julie Carter, Tully Marshall, Noble Johnson. A huge success for Paramount, Redskin is the unusually sympathetic and stirring story of Wing Foot, a Navajo Chief’s son who is caught between the rigid traditions of his tribe and the forced assimilation of the white people. Richard Dix was no stranger to this sort of role, having played a war chief in The Vanishing American (1925), but the film’s true star is the extraordinary location photography in Arizona’s Canyon de Chelly and New Mexico’s Valley of the Enchanted Mesa. Cinematographers Edward Cronjager, Ray Rennahan, and Edward Estabrook took pains to render skin tones, blue skies, and desert sands accurately, marking a remarkable advancement in two-strip Technicolor. Film historian Kevin Brownlow observes, “Schertzinger was an excellent director (and a noted musician), sadly ignored by film history. Thanks to his sure hand, the action moves rapidly, and there is no sense of posing or of proscenium direction. The color in the original print is breathtaking; Redskin leaves an impression of a kaleidoscope of awe-inspiring backgrounds, with such much happening in the foreground that one hardly has time to take in the whole frame. The color is used for emotional impact; black and white (toned amber) represents the world of the white man; color is reserved for scenes of Indian life.” 35mm restoration courtesy The Library of Congress. Silent. 82 min.