The Only Good Indian...The Hollywood Gospel (review)
- Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies
- Center for the Study of Film and History
- Volume 4, Number 2, May 1974
- pp. 31-32
- Additional Information
upon this mine of historical material for their compilation films. Historians who in the past have set aside thoughts of film production because of the costly and troublesome copyright difficulties might now reconsider. The 30,000 reel Universal Collection is available for research and reproduction at the Audiovisual Division ofthe National Archives in Washington, D.C. OHIO HTSTORTANS MEDIA GROUP Ohio historians have been at work forming themselves into an "Ohio Historians' Media Group" which meets regularly to discuss the problems of film research and classroom teaching that Film & History Film & History focuses upon. The idea of such regional organizations enabling scholars to meet frequently and share their ideas and experiences is one that we hope will be followed elsewhere. Much of what the Historians Film Committee has been trying to do on a national basis will be complemented by such a developing network. Interested people may contact Ed Lentz at the Ohio Historical Society, Archives and Manuscripts Division, 1982 Velma Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43206. H.F.C. SCREENS DEATH IS CALLED ENGELCHEN On May 9 the Historians Film Committee sponsored a screening of this Jan Kadar film in New York City. Death is Called Engelchen BOOK REVIEW The Only Good Indian...The Hollywood Gospel, Ralph E. Friar and Natasha A. Friar New York: Drama Book Specialists/Publishers, 1972. 332 pp. Potentially a valuable study in cinema history, this book has a contribution to make and fails to make it. Its thirty-six page roster of films about or related to Indians represents almost all the possible evidence. For that reason, as a reference guide, the book is worth having. Unhappily, the authors' care in collecting titles is not matched by careful thought. The Friars display the same shallow thinking and tactics, which they find so objectionable in Hollywood productions. The first seven 'scenes' (chapters) describe non-cinema graphics and theater. A section on the silent era is better than the rest ofthe book, perhaps because the films are less complex. Afterwards there are scattered pot shots at stage, radio, dime novels and TV. These trite, cute, repetitive polemics ramble on and on in an uncontrollable fashion with no effort made toward sustained cultural analysis. Instead of discussing white mythology and fantasies about Indians, instead ofa clear listing of Hollywood's legion of anthropological sins, and instead ofexplaining why pro-Indian films come out as racist as the Broncho Billy- William S. Hart -John Ford specials, we are given endless and eventually boring witticisms. Important films receive no more attention than do the poorest; title dropping replaces the study of detail and motif. The Friars, mainly obsessed with discrediting A Man Called Horse, do not attempt to relate Indian themes to other topics, to films about blacks or to why John Wayne at war always slaughters Asians and Indians and not Germans. One wishes that Leslie Fiedler, Joseph Campbell or Vine Deloria, Jr., had written The Only Good Indian. The list oftitles, there printing of a few excellent old reviews, and the many photos are all that redeem the book. Reviewed by Robert H. Keller who teaches Indian History ofFairhaven College, WWSC, Bellingham, Washington. FILM & HISTORY NEWS (1 963) is a searching re-examination ofthe World War II resistance period in Czechoslovakia and is rarely seen in the United States. Czech director Jiri Weiss and Czech scholar Eugen Loebl, Professor of Economics at Vassar, led a discussion after the film. FILM REVIEWS THE THREE MUSKETEERS (Twentieth Century Fox, 1974) 107 minutes. By Carl Diehl Athos! Porthos! Aramis! "One for All and All for One!" Was this not the Wheaties ofhistorical imagination for generations of European and American adolescents? Through the ironically frenzied, half-absurd, Romantic-Realist prose of a nineteenth-century semi-potboiler we learned the ethos of adventure, the romance of ambition requited in robust and roistering combat. D'Artagnan was indeed the full-blooded "Don Quixote of eighteen" to juvenile minds too impatient for the quibbling literary ironies ofthe real master of Dulcinea. And for those too impatient with the only partly quibbling literary ironies of Pere Dumas prose, the twentieth century writ the four adventurers large in celluloid. In the heroic lunges, thrusts and parries ofDouglas Fairbanks...