by Jack Nilan            EMail :

Susannah of the Mounties (1939)

Jack   B-

IMDB    6.7

Tribe(s) : Blackfeet

Language : English, Blackfeet



On Title card "The Indians used in this picture are from the Blackfeet reservation in Montana"


  The movie opens with Mounties coming upon a wagon train that has been attacked by Blackfeet. There is one survivor who is hidden under a barrel, Suzannah (Shirley Temple). A Blackfeet tribe is brought in to camp and Chief Big Eagle says the Blackfeet who attacked the wagon were not his men.
Susannah Sheldon: Are you the chief Indian?
Chief Big Eagle: Me Big Eagle.
Susannah Sheldon: Well, I certainly hope Mr. Standing makes you Indians behave this time! And if you got what you deserve, he'd send you all to jail! That's where you belong for what you've been doing! What gives you the right to ...
Inspector Angus 'Monty' Montague: Here, here, Sue. You'll have to forgive her, Big Eagle. This little girl was the only survivor of the wagon train.
Chief Big Eagle: Golden Hawk, little spirit of the sun, Big Eagle sorry you have trouble. Will not happen again.
Susannah Sheldon: I don't see why you want to fight the white people anyway. They haven't done anything to hurt you.

  Chief Big Eagle leaves his son, Little Chief at the fort as a token of good faith. Susannah is soon making a treaty with him to get him to treat her better.

  Big Eagle's men bring in the bodies of the "bad Indians" responsible for the wagon attack. The Blackfeet then tried to sell horses to the railroad. Some of the horses had been stolen from the railroad and a fight breaks out and the Indians are beat up. They go back to camp and the Blackfeet decide to go on the war path.

Susannah Sheldon: Oh, Mr. Monty, I'm so glad you're back. I've been so worried.
Inspector Angus 'Monty' Montague: You shouldn't be up this late, Sue.
Susannah Sheldon: But I had to tell you. Little Chief says the Indians are going to kill all the white men and redcoats, because of what happened at the railroad camp.
Inspector Angus 'Monty' Montague: Railroad camp?
Supt. Andrew Standing: What happened, Sue?
Susannah Sheldon: The Indians tried to sell Mr. Chambers his own horses back, and Mr. Chambers got so mad, because the Indians were trying to cheat him, he said he was going to bring soldiers out to make them behave. The Indians didn't like that, and when they tried to leave, the woodmen pulled them off their horses and started hitting them!
Inspector Angus 'Monty' Montague: I've been trying to reach Big Eagle and tell him he has nothing to fear from Chambers's threats.
Supt. Andrew Standing: I'm afraid it's too late for talk now.
Vicky Standing: What is it, Father? Trouble?
Inspector Angus 'Monty' Montague: Yes, plenty, and our friend Chambers started it.

Little Chief and Susannah become friends.
Little Chief: Now squaw put out finger.
Susannah Sheldon: And let you cut it? I will not!
Little Chief: Squaw afraid?
Susannah Sheldon: No! Oh, you did cut it! It's bleeding!
Little Chief: Now put together. Make Golden Hawk and Little Chief blood brothers.
Susannah Sheldon: You mean this will make me an Indian?
Little Chief: Unh. Indian now.
Susannah Sheldon: Oh, is my face turning red?
Little Chief: No, stay paleface.
Susannah Sheldon: I'm glad of that.

The Blackfeet do the war dance, scream, and burn things down. Little Chief says Wolf pelt is a bad Indian who stole horses from railroad and then lied about it.

  The title card said the Indians used in the movie were from the Blackfeet reservation, but the Chief Big Eagle was played by Maurice Moscovitch and Wolf Pelt was played by Victor Jory. The Blackfeet in the background looked great, but they mostly just danced and chanted.

  In a raid Monty (Randolph Scott) is captured and taken to the Blackfeet camp. Monty is being held hostage. The Blackfeet want the iron horse o go away, and the Mounties too.
Little Chief: Iron horse not go away, you die.
Inspector Angus 'Monty' Montague: The iron horse won't go away, Little Chief, not for me or anyone else.
Little Chief: Chief Redcoat big fool. All white men die.
Inspector Angus 'Monty' Montague: If they do, many more will come, and that will be bad medicine for the Indians.
Little Chief: Big talk. Indians kill them, too. I get cold water for sick head.
Inspector Angus 'Monty' Montague: Thanks. That would be a help.
Little Chief: Do it for Golden Hawk (Susannah). She friend. Too bad you die. Make her feel sorry.

Susannah heads out to the Blackfeet camp. Monty is going to be burned at the stake and she runs to him. She tells Big Eagle that Red Coats are his friends. Susannah tells Big Eagle about Wolf Pelt trying to sell stolen horses back to railroad. Little Chief backs her up. The medicine man says Wolf Pelt is lying and Big eagle sets Monty free. All the Indians are happy. "Little Golden Hawk show white men and Indian how to live as brothers, she smoke too."

   This movie has all the stereotypes of the Indian Westerns. the dancing, burning, smoke signals, good Indians, bad Indians, burning at the stake, broken English, smoking the peace pipe, medicine man, menacing drums. The movie was particular insidious in telling the story of the Canadian expansion over the Indian lands. Shirley Temple was brought in to tell the white people's pint of view, and who wouldn't believe her. The movie blames the bad Indian Wolf Pelt for causing all the trouble, and trying to stop progress.

  I gave the movie a pretty high rating, not because it was good, but because it was such a good representative of the stereotped Indian movies of the early days of Hollywood.