Laughing Boy (1934)

78-79 mins | Western, Romance | 13 April 1934

Director:

W. S. Van Dyke

Producer:

Hunt Stromberg

Cinematographer:

Lester White

Editor:

Blanche Sewell

Production Designer:

A. Arnold Gillespie

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

According to Var , M-G-M purchased the rights to Oliver La Farge's novel from Universal. Onscreen credits refer to the work as "the Pulitzer Prize novel." A Jun 1932 HR news item announced that Richard Arlen had tested "in Indian makeup" for the lead in the film. In late Aug 1932, HR announced that the production had been postponed because a suitable lead had not been found. Scenes for the film were shot on an Arizona Navajo reservation and near Cameron and Flagstaff, AZ. According to DV , director W. S. Van Dyke, production manager Bud Barsky and star Ramon Novarro were made honoray chiefs of the Navajo tribe during filming. A Jun 1933 HR article states that Lynn Riggs was assigned to write a screen treatment for this film. This writer's contribution to the production, if any, has not been determined. The Var reviewer noted that, because of objections from the New York censor board, parts of the film, including the scene in which "Slim Girl" and "Laughing Boy" camp out together, were deleted for screenings in that state. Var 's running time for the picture was only 75 ... More Less

According to Var , M-G-M purchased the rights to Oliver La Farge's novel from Universal. Onscreen credits refer to the work as "the Pulitzer Prize novel." A Jun 1932 HR news item announced that Richard Arlen had tested "in Indian makeup" for the lead in the film. In late Aug 1932, HR announced that the production had been postponed because a suitable lead had not been found. Scenes for the film were shot on an Arizona Navajo reservation and near Cameron and Flagstaff, AZ. According to DV , director W. S. Van Dyke, production manager Bud Barsky and star Ramon Novarro were made honoray chiefs of the Navajo tribe during filming. A Jun 1933 HR article states that Lynn Riggs was assigned to write a screen treatment for this film. This writer's contribution to the production, if any, has not been determined. The Var reviewer noted that, because of objections from the New York censor board, parts of the film, including the scene in which "Slim Girl" and "Laughing Boy" camp out together, were deleted for screenings in that state. Var 's running time for the picture was only 75 minutes. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Nov 33
p. 7.
Daily Variety
2 Dec 33
p. 3.
Daily Variety
16 Dec 33
p. 3.
Film Daily
12 May 34
p. 4.
HF
25 Nov 33
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jun 32
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 32
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 33
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Feb 34
p. 2.
Motion Picture Daily
18 May 34
p. 18.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Jun 34
p. 53.
Variety
15 May 34
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A W. S. Van Dyke Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Laughing Boy by Oliver La Farge (Boston, 1929).
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 April 1934
Production Date:
mid November 1933--31 January 1934
Copyright Claimant:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Copyright Date:
7 April 1934
Copyright Number:
LP4617
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
78-79
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Newly arrived to the southern section of the Navajo nation, Laughing Boy, an expert silversmith, attends the annual Great Sing Dance at T'si Lani and there meets the beautiful Slim Girl. Reared by whites, the orphan Slim Girl, whose "town" name is Lily, is ostracized by the conservative Navajos and is denounced as a prostitute. Although confused by Slim Girl's overtly seductive behavior, Laughing Boy is nonetheless drawn to her and is goaded by her to compete in a horse race. During the race, for which Laughing Boy has offered his most coveted bracelet as a prize, Red Man, a Pauite, causes Laughing Boy's horse to fall. Laughing Boy loses the race but, determined to win back his bracelet and impress Slim Girl, immediately challenges Red Man to a wrestling match. After Laughing Boy defeats Red Man in the match, he confesses his love to an admiring Slim Girl. Although his strict father refuses to sanction a union with Slim Girl, Laughing Boy leaves with her that night. While camping, Slim Girl seduces the inexperienced Laughing Boy with "moonshine" and flirtation, but finds herself alone the next morning, abandoned by the now-ashamed Navajo. Crushed, Slim Girl returns to her shabby life as mistress to George Hartshone, a brutish but well-to-do rancher. Soon, however, her yearning for Laughing Boy overcomes her, and sensing that he is near, she rides to the hills to find him. Once reunited, the couple marry and join Laughing Boy's family tribe. In spite of her efforts to work and behave like a traditional Navajo wife, Slim Girl is criticized by her in-laws and is labeled as weak and ... +


Newly arrived to the southern section of the Navajo nation, Laughing Boy, an expert silversmith, attends the annual Great Sing Dance at T'si Lani and there meets the beautiful Slim Girl. Reared by whites, the orphan Slim Girl, whose "town" name is Lily, is ostracized by the conservative Navajos and is denounced as a prostitute. Although confused by Slim Girl's overtly seductive behavior, Laughing Boy is nonetheless drawn to her and is goaded by her to compete in a horse race. During the race, for which Laughing Boy has offered his most coveted bracelet as a prize, Red Man, a Pauite, causes Laughing Boy's horse to fall. Laughing Boy loses the race but, determined to win back his bracelet and impress Slim Girl, immediately challenges Red Man to a wrestling match. After Laughing Boy defeats Red Man in the match, he confesses his love to an admiring Slim Girl. Although his strict father refuses to sanction a union with Slim Girl, Laughing Boy leaves with her that night. While camping, Slim Girl seduces the inexperienced Laughing Boy with "moonshine" and flirtation, but finds herself alone the next morning, abandoned by the now-ashamed Navajo. Crushed, Slim Girl returns to her shabby life as mistress to George Hartshone, a brutish but well-to-do rancher. Soon, however, her yearning for Laughing Boy overcomes her, and sensing that he is near, she rides to the hills to find him. Once reunited, the couple marry and join Laughing Boy's family tribe. In spite of her efforts to work and behave like a traditional Navajo wife, Slim Girl is criticized by her in-laws and is labeled as weak and unfit. Overwhelmed with loneliness and rejection, Slim Girl suggests to Laughing Boy that they move to their own hogan and support themselves by trading his silver jewelry for money to buy and raise goats. Slim Girl then convinces her husband that she must go to town alone to do the trading. Eventually, however, Slim Girl's repeated absences from home drive Laughing Boy to distraction, and during Fourth of July celebrations, he rides to town to find her. After searching the town, Laughing Boy is directed to Slim Girl's house, unaware that she has been staying there with Hartshone. When he finds Slim Girl in Hartshone's arms, Laughing Boy shoots an arrow at his rival but strikes his wife in the chest instead. As she dies in his arms, Slim Girl begs Laughing Boy to forgive her, then promises to wait for him in heaven. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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