Fox Film Corporation. Distributed by Fox Film Corp. November 27, 1932; New York opening: November 24, 1932; Prod: September-late October 1932 (copyright: Fox Film Corp.; November 14, 1932; LP3225). Sd (Western Electric System); b&w . 9 reels, 7,634 or 7,900 ft.82, 85 or 87 min.
Associate Producer: Sam E. Rork. Directed by: John Francis Dillon.(Assistant Director: Jack Boland). Script: Edwin Burke. Photography: Lee Garmes. Art Director: Max Parker. (Film ed: Harold Schuster). Ward: David Cox. Music Director: Louis De Francesco. Sound Recording: E. Clayton Ward.
Source: Based on the novel Call Her Savage by Tiffany Thayer (New York, 131).
Cast: Clara Bow (Nasa Springer), Gilbert Roland (Moonglow), Thelma Todd (Sunny De Lane), Monroe Owsley (Lawrence Crosby), Estelle Taylor (Ruth Springer), Anthony Jowitt (Jay Randall), Fred Kohler (Silas Jennings), Russell Simpson (Old man in wagon train), Margaret Livingston (Molly), Carl Stockdale (Mort), Dorothy Peterson (Silas' wife), Arthur Hoyt (Mr. Russell), Katherine Perry (Maid), John Elliott (Hank), Hale Hamilton (Cyrus Randall), Walter Long (Man who tries to pick up Nasa), Bert Roach (Man who does pick up Nasa), Mischa Auer (Man in restaurant), Douglas Haig (Pete as a boy), Marilyn Knowlden (Ruth as a girl), Mary Gordon (Woman in tenement).
(Print viewed) After an Indian attack on a wagon train, Mort, one of the dying white men, blames his leader Silas Jennings for bringing down the wrath of God in response to Silas' adultery. When Mort calls Silas' lover a harlot, Silas puts his foot on Mort's throat and pushes him to the ground until he is dead. An old man, quoting the Bible, warns Silas that the sins of the fathers are visited upon their children even unto the third and fourth generation. Eighteen years later, in Rollins, Texas, Silas' daughter Ruth falls in love with Ronasa, an Indian, while her husband, Pete Springer, spends much time away on business. After Ronasa, obeying his father, leaves to marry the daughter of another chief, Ruth has a baby, Nasa. She grows up to be a rambunctious woman, who is troubled by her changing, extreme moods. After seeing Nasa whip her gentle, half-breed friend Moonglow, Pete, now one of the richest men in Texas, sends her to a private academy for girls in Chicago for her wild behavior. As her coming-out party approaches, Pete gives a story to the newspaper that nas's engagement to a man of his choice, Charlie Moffett, will be announced at the party. Nasa explodes with anger and invites man-about-town Larry Crosby. At the party, Larry's mistress, Sunny De Lane, arrives with another man and gets in a hair-pulling fight with Nasa. Larry then proposes to Nasa, who accepts, thinking that it will be a joke on her father. They marry the next afternoon, and Nasa tries to reconcile with her father, but he tells her that he never wants to see her again. Larry comes in drunk late that night, and after they spend a few hours in bed, he dresses to rejoin a poker game. When Nasa, upset, questions the reason he married her, he confesses he did it to get even with Sunny. Nasa goes on a spree, gambling and buying clothers, furs, and jewelry with Larry's credit, until Larry's lawyer tells her that he is dangerously ill in New Orleans and ad ises her to visit him. During the visit, Larry tries to rape her. She hits him over the head with a stool, knocking him out, and when she learns from a doctor that "his mind is affected," she worries for the child with which she is pregnant. One month later, Nasa gives birth to a "seven-month" baby, but she is relieved when the doctor tells her that the baby is healthy. Nasa moves to a cheap boardinghouse. When she needs money for a prescription for the baby, she asks a neighbor's girl to look after the child and picks up a man on the street. She purchases the prescription, but returns to find that her baby has died of smoke suffocation in a fire that started when a lecherous drunk followed the babysitter and dropped a lighted match. Moonglow, who has come with news that Nasa's grandfather hs died and left her $100,000, tries to console her, but she vows to get even with life. Nasa divorces Larry and one month later arrives in New York, where she advertises for a male excort. Attracted to her, Jay Randall, the jaded son of a millionaire mine owner, applies, not telling her his real identity. When a brawl erupts in a Greenwich Village restaurant, after a man identifies Jay as a millionaire's son, Nasa enjoys the excitement and confesses that she skew his identity but his father warns him of her almost uncontrollable temper and challenges Jay to bring Nasa to a dinner party. To Jay's and Nasa'a surprise, Jay's father has invited Larry and Sunny. The dinner turns into a brawl after Larry speaks disrepectfully about Nas's dead child. Jay rebukes Nasa and calls her "savage." Alone and drunk, Nasa gets vilently angry at the men who have made her life miserable. When she learns that her mother is ill, she returns to Texas. Ruth dies after calling Ronasa's name. After Moonglow tells Nasa that Ronasa was the son of an Indian chief who killed himself because he was in love with a beautiful white woman, Nasa realizes that the woman was her mother. She tells Moonglow that she is glad to be a half-breed and takes his hand.(Information from "The American Film Institute Catalog of Feature Films".)
Reviews of the film welcomed Bow back to the screen. LAT commented, "her fame seems to have been recaptured with remarkable ease...It is generally conceded that her acting has improved, having become more restrained, but she is still sufficiently exuberant in her technique to qualify as a natural actress rather than a cultivated one. Her vitality and sincerity unite (in a ) likable personality that disarms criticism and wins for her the whole-hearted approval of the masses...Call Her Savage has been condemned by the more discriminating as a flashy, trashy, tasteless and unpleasant exhibit, but not even the most captious deny its superficial appeal to the larger public."
Clara officially returned to Hollywood in early July, 1932, with a few announcements of her own. she was planning to direct films herself and to produce pictures starring her husband. "Directing won't be anything new to me. In all the pictures I have made I helped in the direction. The deal with the Rex Bell picture is now being made with the producers." Whoever was putting such grandiose ideas into Clara's mind obviously did not have the ability to carry them through, for neither of these two avenues of creative endeavors panned out.
Instead, it was announce Clara had selected Tiffany Thayer's novel CHS for her Fox film debut. She went on a special diet and lost 18 pounds before her reporting to work.
The hastily packaged Call Her Savage premiered at the Roxy Theatre on November 24,1932, and did a very respectable $34,000 for its week's run. The Radio City Music Hall had turned the production down as unsuitable. The often crude story line was as unsubtle as the performances, but it did offer Clara an ample showcase to display a respectable range of emotions, from whipping Roland, rebuking Owsley, playing the bored socialite, vying with vixen Thelma Todd, shyly hustling escorts, displaying mother love, to finally romancing Roland. Clara looked extremely healthy and pretty and displayed vitality. If her diction was still a bit rough, she had learned more restraint in her enunciation and phrasing.
Richard Watts, Jr. (New York Herald Tribune) approved: "Despite certain definite weaknesses in her manner of dramatized emotions, she is, as always, a vivid and arresting screen personage, who plays with so much amiable vitality that she remains an invariably interesting performer to watch."
CHS made out quite nicely at the box office and promised a bright new future for Clara. Clara's three favorite films were Mantrap,It,and Call Her Savage.