THE DAUGHTER OF DAWN
(director/writer: Norbert Myles; screenwriter: Richard E. Banks; titles: Richard P. May; editor: Charles Simone; music: David Yeagley (new score); cast: Belo Cozad (Comanche Chief), Hunting Horse (Kiowa Chief), Esther LeBarre (Daughter of Dawn), Wanada Parker (Red Wing), White Parker (White Eagle), Jack Sankey-Doty (Black Wolf); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Richard E. Banks; Milestone; 1920-silent)
“Works well as an historical curio.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The film was never commercially released and was missing for over 90 years before restoration of it by the Oklahoma Historical Society began in 2005, and it premiered in Oklahoma in 2012. A private detective got his hands on the nitrate print for a job he did instead of being paid with money. He turned it over to the historical society and as a result an invaluable film was restored and made available to the public in limited theater releases and by the efforts of Milestone to put it on DVD and Blu-Ray. It’s acted by an all-Native American cast of 300 Kiowa and Comanche. It was filmed on location in the Wichita Mountains of Oklahoma. Norbert Myles (“Faithful Wives”/”Walloping Wives”) directs and co-writes with Richard E. Banks. The latter spent 25 years living with the Indians. The story involves the Daughter of Dawn (Esther LeBarre), the daughter of the Kiowa chief (Hunting Horse), who is ready to marry. She won’t marry without her father’s consent, and has two suitors. Black Wolf (Jack Sankey-Doty) has many ponies to offer her father, but she doesn’t love him. White Eagle (White Parker) offers only himself. She loves him. The chief arranges for both to jump off a steep cliff called Medicine Bluff, and the bravest will be the next chief. White Eagle makes the jump, but Black Wolf chickens out. As a result he’s ejected from the Kiowa tribe. The Kiowa maiden Red Wing (Wanada Parker) loves him and tags along, as he joins the rival Comanches. Black Wolf leads the Comanches to kidnap the Daughter of Dawn. But the Kiowa come to the rescue and slaughter the captors while freeing Dawn. In the battle, White Eagle slays Black Wolf in hand-to-hand combat. Besides the eternal love triangle tragic story, it shows the Kiowa on a buffalo hunt, ordinary life in the Kiowa tent village and native dances. It’s efficiently shot and works well as an historical curio. The slight story might be simple and not that engaging, but the marriage suitability test was just plain nutty. Anyhow, the non-professional cast acted with sincerity even if their acting was crude.
REVIEWED ON 6/22/2016 GRADE: B- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/