Dolores Del Rio, Roland Drew

Edwin Carewe's "Ramona"

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Mexican actress Dolores Del Rio portrays the title character and Roland Drew is her suitor Felipe in Edwin Carewe's 1928 screen adaptation of Helen Hunt Jackson's 1884 blockbuster novel, "Ramona." Some of the characters and settings in the novel were based on some of the people and features of Rancho Camulos at the western edge of the Santa Clarita Valley.

Red arcade card, probably issued 1928-1929. Back is blank (buff-colored card stock). "Ex. Sup. Co. Chgo." at lower right is the Exhibit Supply Company, which was the major distributor of arcade cards. They were sold from proprietary vending machines in theater lobbies and collected much like baseball cards.

About Edwin Carewe's "Ramona."

Director Edwin Carewe's "Ramona" is one of a handful of film adaptations of Helen Hunt Jackson's 1884 novel, which was based in part on the people and settings of Rancho Camulos in the western Santa Clarita Valley.

While readers of the novel and most filmmakers were drawn to Jackson's idyllic portrayal of Old Spanish California, the author's actual intent was to draw attention to the mistreatment of Native Americans. Carewe's adaptation is truer than others to Jackson's intent in its depictions of white colonizers' abuses.

Like many films of the silent era, Carewe's "Ramona" was lost — until a copy turned up in Prague in the early 2000s. The story of the print is at least as fascinating as the movie itself.

The Nazis confiscated what proved to be the last surviving copy of Carewe's "Ramona" in the former Czechoslovakia, which they occupied in 1939, and brought it (and countless other films) to Berlin. Then, when the Soviet Union liberated Berlin, "Ramona" was removed to the Soviet film archive, Gosfilmofond, outside of Moscow. Next, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Czech archivist Myrtil Frida found it in Gosfilmofond (now the State Film Fund of the Russian Federation) and carried it back to Prague.

Finally in about 2009, Hugh Munro Neely, longtime (now former) curator of the Mary Pickford Institute of Film Education, learned of its existence. Together with colleagues Joanna Hearne, an authority on early native American representations in cinema, and Dydia DeLyser, author of the book, "Ramona Memories," Neely traveled to Prague. "Over the next several years," Neely writes, "we were able to help coordinate the return of this print to the United States where it was preserved by the Library of Congress."

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LW3728: 9600 dpi jpeg from original arcade card purchased 2020 by Leon Worden.
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