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Unconquered is a 1947 adventure film produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille and released by Paramount. The film depicts the violent struggles between American colonists and Native Americans on the western frontier in the mid-eighteenth century, primarily around Fort Pitt (modern-day Pittsburghmarker). It stars Gary Cooper and Paulette Goddard.

Plot summary

Based on Neil Swanson's Unconquered, a Novel of the Pontiac Conspiracy, the film focuses on "Abby" Hale (Paulette Goddard), who is condemned to death by a British court, then offered clemency if she will become an indentured servant in America. There is a bidding competition between Captain Christopher Holden (Gary Cooper) and Martin Garth (Howard Da Silva), which Holden wins. He then sets her free. Unfortunately, Garth is a sore loser; he kidnaps Abby and takes her to the western frontier, where he is involved in illegal arms sales to the Native Americans. Soon, Holden becomes involved in the conflict with the warring tribes and is reunited with Abby; he also has further confrontations with Garth and his henchman (Mike Mazurki).



During filming, DeMille became enraged when Paulette Goddard refused to participate in a dangerous battle scene involving flaming arrows; several members of the cast were actually injured, but DeMille was so angry with Goddard that he refused to use her again in any of his later films, even when she begged him to cast her in the 1952 production of The Greatest Show on Earth.

The movie was filmed in three-strip Technicolor, with considerable location shooting.

As was customary in many of his films, DeMille himself narrated some of the story.

Home video

The film is available on DVD issued by Universal Pictures.

The "White Slave" letter

The original Neil Swanson novel, on which the film was based, was prefaced by an excerpt from a genuine historical document, providing much of the background: a letter concerning the Holdens of Virginia, written by one of their descendants in the frontier village of St. Anthony in Minnesota, at the great falls of the Mississippi, in the summer of 1862 - a century after the time of the plot.

"My great-grandmother was a slave.
She was white.
She was an English girl.
Yet she was exhibited and sold at auction, not by barbarous
Algerian but by the brutal 1aws of her own people. For it was evenpossible, in those days, for a man who had grown weary of his wife toput a rope around her neck, lead her to a public market, and there sellher.

This girl was a virgin.
She was accused of murder, tried, found guilty, sentenced to the gallows-and then given the harsh choice of death by
hanging or of slavery. (In a court in London) To live was to hope. Shechose life, and so became the property of a man who lusted for her,though he had a wife.

She was young when these things happened-only seventeen-and it is said that she was very lovely.
I tell you of her so that you may see how far
a journey we have come from the day when, in America, a white girl couldbe sold and bought as you would sell or buy a cow, a horse, a dog - couldbe lawfully and publicly stripped naked, whipped, shamed, and degraded" ([387567]).

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