|Directed by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Written by|| Charles Bennett |
Fredric M. Frank
Jesse Lasky Jr.
Jeanie MacPherson (uncredited)
|Produced by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Starring|| Gary Cooper |
Howard Da Silva
|Narrated by||Cecil B. DeMille|
|Edited by||Anne Bauchens|
|Music by||Victor Young|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||$6,665,592 |
Unconquered is a 1947 American historical epic adventure film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Gary Cooper and Paulette Goddard. The supporting cast features Boris Karloff, Cecil Kellaway, Ward Bond, Howard Da Silva, Katherine DeMille (the director's daughter), C. Aubrey Smith and Mike Mazurki. Released by Paramount Pictures, the film depicts the violent struggles between American colonists and Native Americans on the western frontier in the mid-18th century during the 1763 Pontiac's Rebellion, primarily around Fort Pitt (modern-day Pittsburgh). The film is characterized by DeMille's lavish style, including colourful costumes and sets, thousands of extras, violence, and sensationalism.
In London in 1763, Abigail "Abby" Hale is tried for the death of a Royal Navy officer which occurred when she tried to save her sick brother from the press gang. The judge condemns her to be hanged, then offers her the "king's mercy": transportation to the British colonies in North America and a term of "not less than 14 years as an indentured servant, to be sold at auction". She chooses the latter.
Aboard ship as it nears Norfolk, Abby incurs the anger of trader Martin Garth, who then insists upon the auction being held there and then. There is a bitter bidding war between Garth and Captain Christopher Holden, which Holden wins with an exorbitant bid. A friend reminds Holden he is engaged. He sets Abby free, but afterward, his fiancée Diana informs him that she has married his brother.
Meanwhile, Garth bribes the slave dealer into saying that Holden was only jesting and never bought her, and destroys the bill of freedom. Garth takes Abby to the western frontier, where he is selling guns to the Indians towards the end of the French and Indian War. Holden's friend John Fraser shows him something he got from an Indian who tried to kill him. Holden and Abby's paths cross, but Garth convinces Holden that Abby came to him of her own accord.
Later, Garth makes it clear he is attracted to Abby. However, his Indian wife Hannah, daughter of Chief Guyasuta, shows up with an important message. Garth hastily departs for a meeting. At the meeting are George Washington, Colonel of the Virginia Regiment, his subordinate Holden, colonial governor Sir William, and others. They are deeply concerned about a possible native uprising. Holden fears that Pontiac will unite the tribes to wage war. Holden suggests sending someone to take "peace belts" to the Indians; Garth recommends Holden, and Holden accepts. However, when Holden and his two companions are ambushed, he realizes that he needs to deal with Garth. When he comes for Garth, he is reunited with Abby, and their mutual misunderstanding is cleared up before they flee together to Fort Pitt.
When Garth comes for Abby, Holden provokes him into a duel. However, Garth has a bill of sale for Abby, so the governor awards her to him. Before Garth can do anything, he is summoned by Guyasuta. He takes Abby along.
When a nearby settlement is wiped out, the governor prepares Fort Pitt for a siege.
Holden walks unarmed into Guyasuta's camp and, by trickery, manages to save Abby from being tortured to death. They escape and, seeing the aftermath of the slaughtering of settlers, head off to warn Fort Pitt against Indian treachery. However, Garth convinces the authorities that Holden is an untrustworthy deserter; Holden is sentenced to death and Abby is returned to Garth. She makes a bargain with Garth: she will willingly go with him in return for him arranging Holden's escape. He agrees, but plots Holden's death in the escape attempt. Hannah, having been told by Garth that he is abandoning her for Abby, warns Holden, takes his place and is fatally shot.
With no more food left, the acting British commander decides to accept Guyasuta's false promise to let them go unharmed. Fortunately, reinforcements arrive just in time, and the Indians flee. When the relief force enters the fort, however, the besieged see that the soldiers in the wagons are dead. Holden was unable to obtain reinforcements from the nearest British unit because it had suffered grievous casualties, but he was able to get a token force of mostly drummers and bagpipers of the famed Black Watch ... and corpses. Afterward, Holden kills Garth in a shootout, leaving him and Abby free to marry.
DeMille was inspired to create the film after reading The Judas Tree by Neil Swanson. The novel described how white men and women who had been convicted in England were sent to 18th-century America to be sold as slaves. DeMille bought the rights to the novel and hired Swanson to write a new book that would be titled Unconquered: A Novel of the Pontiac Conspiracy,  using the film script in development as his source.  The film script was written by Charles Bennett, Jesse Lasky Jr., and Fredric M. Frank; DeMille also paid two experts to research "the birth of freedom, and the beginning of the death of slavery, in colonial America", paying $100,000 for their services.  However, DeMille was more interested in the romanticization of American colonial conquest and the demonization of Native Americans who stood in the way of it than with full historical accuracy.   The script is littered with stereotypical clichés about massacre-happy Indians; for example, Paulette Goddard's character proclaims: "The Indians will always burn, torture, and kill to get back the wilderness". 
DeMille spent months polishing the dialogue, but both Cooper and Goddard were dissatisfied with their lines. For Cooper, Lasky dutifully rewrote one scene several times, but Cooper refused to say two of the speeches. 
The production cost $4.3 million,  and ran $394,000 over budget as well as nine days over its shooting schedule.   Actor salaries came in at $1 million,  the largest salary outlay in DeMille's career to date.  Cooper received $300,000, twice his usual fee, including a percentage of the profits, and Goddard earned $112,000. 
Unconquered was the last of four films which Cooper made with DeMille.  DeMille had originally wanted to cast the Scottish actress Deborah Kerr in the role of Alice Hale, but could not meet her salary demand.  The cast included 25 name players, and 4,325 costumed extras were also employed.  Thirteen stunt performers were employed in the production. 
The majority of actors cast as Native American characters were all Caucasian.  DeMille asked Boris Karloff to study the Seneca language before playing Chief Guyasuta.  The only Indians in the cast, playing bit parts, were Chief John Big Tree, Rodd Redwing, Jay Silverheels, and Chief Thundercloud.  Iron Eyes Cody (an Italian-American actor) was also credited as an Indian language consultant.  DeMille did the voice-over narration. 
Most of the filming was done on Hollywood sound stages,  with some outdoor scenes filmed in western Pennsylvania and river scenes filmed on the Snake River in Idaho.   The waterfall scene, in which Cooper's and Goddard's characters escape the Indians by riding a canoe down the rapids and then jumping off to grab an overhanging tree branch as the canoe careens down the falls, was filmed at two different locations—one a river with only rapids and the other a river with only falls. The two rivers were matted together in post-production to appear as one body of water; artists also matte-painted an overhanging tree branch into each frame.  Stunt performers Ted Mapes and Lila Finn handled the canoe riding and jumping-off scenes on the rapids, while Mapes and Polly Burson were the stunt doubles who land on a rocky ledge under the waterfall, which was filmed on a soundstage.  Cooper and Goddard were then filmed riding the canoe and jumping off on a soundstage backed by a rear-projection screen. 
For the climactic attack on Fort Pitt, DeMille sought to create a spectacular, brutal battle that had never been filmed before and that would wow theatergoers. The scene, which cost $300,000 to stage, involved nearly 800 extras, along with "three hundred pounds of dynamite, fifty pounds of flash powder, fifty flintlocks, and three hundred fireballs". Goddard refused to stand in the scene while fireballs were being hurled, which infuriated DeMille, who shouted, "Get her out of here! Get her out before I kill her!" The director would not speak to Goddard again for years. 
Cooper's character uses authentic 18th-century pistols from DeMille's private collection. 
The film was released on October 3, 1947.  A month before release, Paramount arranged for Cooper, Da Silva, and Karloff to promote the film on its 15-minute radio show, "Paramount Star Interviews", which was syndicated across the U.S. 
Unconquered earned domestic rentals of $5.25 million,  making it one of the highest-grossing films of 1947. However, due to the film's bloated budget, the film lost more than $1 million. 
The film was released on DVD by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in 2007. 
Critics generally panned the screenplay for its clichéd dialogue and situations, but admitted to liking the film anyway. Time called the film "a huge, high-colored chunk of hokum; but the most old-fashioned thing about it is its exuberance, a quality which 66-year-old Director DeMille preserves almost single-handed from the old days when even the people who laughed at movies couldn't help liking them".  Bosley Crowther, writing for The New York Times , agreed that "Unconquered is a picture worth seeing, if for nothing else but laughs". But he added that while the film uses "the oldest dime-store clichés"—including "Indian fights, tavern brawling and a canoe going over a waterfall"—it exerts a "magnetic pull" under DeMille's direction. Crowther also noted that the film contains all of the usual DeMille touches, including "Paulette Goddard as the red-headed, flashing-eyed slave, exhibited in numerous situations, from a bathtub to an Indian torture stake". 
Mountain Xpress called the film "preposterous in the way that only a Cecil B. DeMille movie can be". Yet its reviewer gave the film 4 ½ out of 5 stars, calling it "massively entertaining". He elaborated:
The bad guys are very bad, the good guys very credulous, the hero very smart and honorable. It is a "perfect" DeMille picture. Everything you expect is here—including a bathtub scene (in a barrel) for a very fetching Paulette Goddard. It's all bigger than it needs to be. It's very Hollywood—even to the constant misunderstandings between Cooper and Goddard—not to mention the casting of Boris Karloff as the chief of the Senecas. And we also get DeMille's adopted daughter Katherine DeMille as Karloff's daughter. There's excitement, danger, romance, adventure, comedy, you name it. It's not a great film, but it's one hell of a movie. 
Critics also praised the acting and cinematography. Variety , which derided the "frequently inept script", praised the actors' performances, noting that this was "a great tribute to the cast because that dialog and those situations try the best of troupers".  According to film critic Emanuel Levy, the "sex appeal" of Cooper and Goddard, he gallantly clad in American colonial costumes and she in the garb of a red-haired slave, ensured its popularity at the box office.  Levy also called the Technicolor cinematography by Ray Rennahan "impressive in an eye-popping manner". 
The film was nominated for a 1947 Academy Award for Best Special Effects. 
Cecil Blount DeMille was an American film director, producer and actor. Between 1914 and 1958, he made 70 features, both silent and sound films. He is acknowledged as a founding father of the American cinema and the most commercially successful producer-director in film history. His films were distinguished by their epic scale and by his cinematic showmanship. His silent films included social dramas, comedies, Westerns, farces, morality plays, and historical pageants. He was an active Freemason and member of Prince of Orange Lodge #16 in New York City.
Paulette Goddard was an American actress notable for her film career in the Golden Age of Hollywood.
Samson and Delilah is a 1949 American romantic biblical drama film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille and released by Paramount Pictures. It depicts the biblical story of Samson, a strongman whose secret lies in his uncut hair, and his love for Delilah, the woman who seduces him, discovers his secret, and then betrays him to the Philistines. It stars Victor Mature and Hedy Lamarr in the title roles, George Sanders as the Saran, Angela Lansbury as Semadar, and Henry Wilcoxon as Prince Ahtur.
Fort Pitt was a fort built by British forces between 1759 and 1761 during the French and Indian War at the confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers, where the Ohio River is formed in western Pennsylvania. It was near the site of Fort Duquesne, a French colonial fort built in 1754 as tensions increased between Great Britain and France in both Europe and North America. The French destroyed Fort Duquesne in 1758 when they retreated under British attack.
Reap the Wild Wind is a 1942 American adventure film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Ray Milland, John Wayne, and Paulette Goddard, with a supporting cast featuring Raymond Massey, Robert Preston, Lynne Overman, Susan Hayward and Charles Bickford. DeMille's second Technicolor production, the film is based on a serialized story written by Thelma Strabel in 1940 for The Saturday Evening Post. The screenplay was written by Alan Le May, Charles Bennett, Jesse Lasky, Jr. and Jeanie MacPherson.
Julia Faye Maloney, known professionally as Julia Faye, was an American actress of silent and sound films. She was known for her appearances in more than 30 Cecil B. DeMille productions. Her various roles ranged from maids and ingénues to vamps and queens.
Rodd Redwing was born Webb Richardson on August 24, 1904 in Tennessee, USA. His father, Ulysses William Richardson, was Black and was an elevator man from Tennessee. His mother, Lillian Webb, was also Black and worked as a manicurist and hairdresser. Lillian divorced her husband William in 1920. Their son Webb moved to New York to pursue a career in acting and appeared in the 1929 musical "Malinda" in Greenwich Village with a cast of African American performers. Webb later changed his birthname to Redwing, adopted a Native American identity, and changed his birthplace to New York City. Some sources reported that he used the Hindu-sounding name Roderick Rajpurkaii Jr. and said his father was a Brahmin mind reader from India.
Garrett Elsden Fort was an American short story writer, playwright, and Hollywood screenwriter. He is mostly known for his connections with 1930s horror films, with film historian Gary Don Rhodes describing him as "one of, if not the pre-eminent horror film screenwriters of the classic era." He was a close follower of Meher Baba, and travelled to India while developing a screenplay based on Baba's philosophy.
The Sign of the Cross is a 1932 American pre-Code epic film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille and released by Paramount Pictures. Based on the original 1895 play by English playwright Wilson Barrett, the screenplay was written by Waldemar Young and Sidney Buchman. It stars Fredric March, Elissa Landi, Claudette Colbert, and Charles Laughton, with Ian Keith and Arthur Hohl.
Variety Girl is a 1947 American musical comedy film directed by George Marshall and starring Mary Hatcher, Olga San Juan, DeForest Kelley, Frank Ferguson, Glenn Tryon, Nella Walker, Torben Meyer, Jack Norton, and William Demarest. It was produced by Paramount Pictures. Numerous Paramount contract players and directors make cameos or perform songs, with particularly large amounts of screen time featuring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Among many others, the studio contract players include Gary Cooper, Alan Ladd, Paulette Goddard, Ray Milland, William Holden, Burt Lancaster, Robert Preston, Veronica Lake, William Bendix, Barbara Stanwyck and Paula Raymond.
Noble Johnson, later known as Mark Noble, was an American actor and film producer. He appeared in films such as The Mummy (1932), The Most Dangerous Game (1932), King Kong (1933) and Son of Kong (1933).
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Before I Hang is a 1940 American horror film released by Columbia Pictures, starring Boris Karloff. The film was directed by Nick Grinde and was one of several films Karloff starred in under contract with Columbia.
Without Benefit of Clergy is a 1921 American silent drama film directed by James Young and featuring Virginia Brown Faire, Thomas Holding and Boris Karloff. It is based on the story by Rudyard Kipling. A print of the film still exists at the UCLA Film and Television Archives and at Archives Du Film Du CNC.
The Unholy Night is a 1929 American pre-Code mystery film directed by Lionel Barrymore and starring Ernest Torrence.
The Ghost Breaker is a 1922 American silent horror comedy film about haunted houses and ghosts. It was produced by Famous Players-Lasky and distributed through Paramount Pictures. It was directed by Alfred E. Green and starred Wallace Reid in one of his last screen roles. The story, based on the 1909 play The Ghost Breaker by Paul Dickey and Charles W. Goddard, had been released on film in 1914, directed by Cecil B. DeMille and Oscar Apfel.
Betty Farrington was an American character actress active from the 1920s through 1960.
Richard Houston Gaines was an American actor. He appeared in over 75 film and television productions between 1940 and 1962.