QUESTION: What famous director filmed the first interpretation of the Helen Hunt Jackson novel Ramona in 1910?
A) Stephen Spielberg
B) D.W. Griffith
C) Cecil B. DeMille
D) Alfred Hitchcock
The walls of the Music Room here at the American Treasure Tour are covered in record albums, celebrity photographs, and movie posters. We do what we can at blog headquarters to explore everything on the walls, but our challenge is that we also have many other things we want to talk about. It's how we suffer. Today, we return to the classic silent films advertised in posters, headshots and one sheets. We are pleased to highlight the film Ramona. No, we're not talking about the Ramona released in 1910 starring Mary Pickford, or Adda Gleason's 1916 interpretation. Nor are we talking about the 1936 release with Loretta Young in the title role. Today, we honor Dolores Del Rio's Ramona, released in 1928. Sometimes keeping track is a challenge. We realize that. We don't want to get you too excited, what with today being a Friday and everything, but we are going to delve into this one over the course of a few days. Today, we will talk about the novel that inspired the movie. Next week, we will be throwing caution to the wind and delving into other facets of this fascinating tale, so stick around. Or come back after your weekend. That's probably better, realistically.
Our Ramona is a silent film released during the somewhat slow transition to talking pictures in the late-20's. Edwin Carewe directed Dolores Del Rio and Warner Baxter in the film adaptation of the novel originally published by Helen Hunt Jackson in 1884. The story is about a mixed-race orphan girl (Ramona) whose suffering during life stemmed from bigotry and hatred based solely on her heritage as being half Native American, and half Scottish. Set in post-Mexican Southern California, Ramona lives with the sister of her deceased foster mother, a loyal Mexican who hates the government that took over with Mexico's defeat. When Ramona falls in love with Alessandro, son of the chief of a local Indian tribe, her foster family forbid their marriage. So Ramona elopes with Alessandro and the couple run off to start a life together elsewhere. Hardship and persecution follow the couple, until - and we won't tell you how it ends.
Jackson hoped that Ramona would reveal the humanity of the generally-persecuted Native and Latin Americans, similar to how Uncle Tom's Cabin exposed the suffering of African Americans thirty years before. Sadly, contemporaries generally remained unaffected and perpetuated negative stereotypes of the people of both races, arguing that Ramona must have been an exception to what they "knew." A tragic inclination of racists is to perceive their smallmindedness as truth. But Ramona did serve to increase interest in Southern California as a destination, improving late-19th century tourism to the region. Come back Monday to learn more about the 1928 film and the people involved in its creation!
ANSWER: C) Cecil B. DeMille. Honestly, everyone knows Spielberg spells his first name with a "v" and not a "ph," too, so A) could not possibly have been the correct answer.