Cecil B. DeMille’s Unconquered is a $4 million Technicolor spectacle; it’s a pre-Revolutionary western with plenty of Injun stuff which, for all the vacuousness and shortcomings, has its gripping moments.
The redskins are ruthless scalpers and the British colonials alternatively naive and brave, patriotic and full of skullduggery to give substance to the melodramatic heroics and knavery of the most derring-do school.
Howard da Silva is the arch-knave whose marriage to Injun chief Boris Karloff’s daughter (Katherine DeMille) puts him plenty in the black with the redskins on fur-trading and the like. Paulette Goddard is the proud slave-girl whose freedom Gary Cooper purchases on the British slaveship, only to cross paths with the heavy (da Silva) and his No. 2 menace (Mike Mazurki).
It’s not generally known that in that 1763 period English convicts had the alternative of being sold into limited slavery in the American colonies. Although a bond slave, Goddard spurns da Silva and sufficiently attracts Cooper to make for a romantic angle.
Despite the ten-twent-thirt meller-dramatics and the frequently inept script [based on Neil H. Swanson’s novel], the performances are convincing, a great tribute to the cast because that dialog and those situations try the best of troupers.
1947: Nomination: Best Special Effects