A History of Screenwriting – 34 in a series – The Squaw Man (1914)

A History of Screenwriting – 34 in a series – The Squaw Man (1914)

Directed by Oscar Apfel and Cecil B. DeMille and produced by DeMille and Jesse L. Lasky, the screenplay was adapted by Beulah Marie Dix from the 1905 stage play, of the same name, written by Edwin Milton Royle.

This first screen version of the story was the legendary DeMille’s first movie assignment. It also holds the distinction of being the first feature-length movie filmed specifically in Hollywood. DeMille wanted to emphasize the outdoors and wanted to shoot the movie in a place that had exotic scenery and great vistas. Initially he traveled to Flagstaff, Arizona to film the movie.[3] After seeing the vast amount of mountains near Flagstaff; the filming was moved to the Los Angeles area. It was not the first film to be made in the Los Angeles area, and film historians agree that shorts had previously been filmed in Hollywood, with In Old California considered the earliest. Harbor scenes were shot in San Pedro, California and the western saloon set was built beside railroad tracks in the San Fernando Valley. Footage of cattle on the open range were shot at Keen Camp near Idyllwild, California, while snow scenes were shot at Mount Palomar.[4] Cecil B. DeMille felt that lighting in a movie was extremely important and viewed it as the visual and emotional foundation to build his image. He believed that lighting was to a film as “music is to an opera”.[1]

The Squaw Man went on to become the only movie successfully filmed three times by the same director/producer, DeMille. He filmed a silent remake in 1918, and a talkie version in 1931The Squaw Man was 74 minutes long and generated $244,700 in profit.[1] Wikipedia



* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out! 


I teach several classes for the Stephens College Low-Residency MFA in Screenwriting, including History of Screenwriting. In fact, I created the curriculum for that course from scratch and customized it to this particular MFA in that it covers ‘Screenwriting’ (not directors) and even more specifically, the class has a female-centric focus.  As part History of Screenwriting I, the first course in the four-class series, we focus on the early women screenwriters of the silent film era  who male historians have, for the most part, quietly forgotten in their books. In this series, I share with you some of the screenwriters and films that should be part of any screenwriters education. I believe that in order  to become a great screenwriter, you need to understand the deep history of screenwriting and the amazing people who created the career. — Dr. Rosanne Welch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.