With a colorful cast that includes Gary Cooper and Paulette Goddard in the leads, and Boris Karloff (as a campy Indian chief) and Cecil B. DeMille's adopted daughter Katerine, the notorious showman tackled Americana in this preprosterous-plotted spectacle epic, which is enjoyable despite (or maybe because of) violating historical accuracy.

Set in the 1760s, DeMille's bloated epic about the shaping of America concerns Abigail Martha Hale (Goddard), a young English girl who's accused unjustly of crime and is sentenced to 14 years of slavery in North America.

On the voyage across from England, she meets Captain Christopher Holden (Gary Cooper), a Virginian militiaman, who takes an immediate liking to her, despite the fact that he is already engaged. A true patriot, Holden is aware of the trading with the restless Indians by Martin Garth (Howard Da Silva), a scurrilous merchant, because of his marriage to Hannah (Katherine DeMille), a Chief's daughter.

Garth plays an important role in the historic "Pontiac Conspiracy," in which 18 Indian nations pledge their allegiance to the great chief of the Ottawas, thus joining him in his plans to derive the colonists out of their land.

This being a quintessential DeMille movie, adventures and misadventures (both credible and incredible) result in Holden being court-martialed for desertion and sentenced to death. Since Holden had already saved Abigail from the Indians, she helps him escape to a military fort, where he gets support to put down the rebellion.

Time magazine may have summed up the picture's appeal when its reviewer wrote: "This is Cecil Blount DeMille's florid, $5,000,000, Technicolor celebration of Gary Cooper's virility, Paulette Goddard's femininity, and the American Frontier Spirit."

You don't go to a DeMille picture expecting logic or realism, but most reviews at the time faulted his work for its improbable events and absurd plotthe New Yorker called it "a flaccid epic." Production values, particularly Technicolor cinematography of Ray Rennahan, are impressive in an eye-popping manner. But ultimately, it's the sex appeal of the actors that made the film popular. The New York Times critic singled out Cooper's colonial costume and tri-corner hat, and Goddard's red-headed, flashing-eyed slave, exhibited in numerous situations, from a bathtub to an Indian torture stake."

The sequence in which Cooper and Goddard go over the rapids in a canoe might explain the Oscar nomination for special effects.

Released on October 11, 1947, "Unconquered" became one of DeMille's top-grossing films, ranking fourth at the box-office with a gross of  5.25 million.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Special Effects: Fraciot Edouart, Devereux Jennings, Gordon Jennings, Wallace Kelley, and Paul Lerpae, visual; George Dutton, sound.

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The Special Effects Oscar went to "Green Street Dolphin."