Chad Hanna. 1940. USA. Directed by Henry King. 88 min.
Screenplay by Nunnally Johnson. With Henry Fonda, Dorothy Lamour, Linda Darnell, Jane Darwell, John Carradine. Country naif Henry Fonda is a circus performer in 1840s upstate New York who must choose between Dorothy Lamour, a sensuous bareback horse rider, and Linda Darnell, a long-suffering innocent on the run from her brutish, slave-hunting father. Director Henry King was an old pro at this sort of picture—his Tol’able David (1921) is a fine example from his early, silent-era career—and he routinely turned out polished period melodramas for Twentieth Century Fox in the 1930s and 1940s (Lloyd’s of London, Alexander’s Ragtime Band, and In Old Chicago). Chad Hanna was based on a popular Saturday Evening Post serial by Walter D. Edmonds—Edmonds’s Drums along the Mohawk, adapted the year before by John Ford and also starring Fonda, also appears in this exhibition—but the center ring belongs to Ernest Palmer and Ray Renahan’s golden-hued Technicolor photography and Richard Day’s art direction. 35mm print from George Eastman House; courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.