Pearl Chavez (Jennifer Jones) was marked for trouble: a half-breed Indian girl – I use that phrase deliberately, reflecting both the contemporary labelling and its associated baggage – whose adulterous Indian mother had been shot by her father, who was then hanged for the crime. Before he murdered Pearl’s mother, her father commented (forshadowing her future): ‘Like mother, like daughter.’ She was sent to live with distant relatives and became involved in a love triangle with their two sons: a violent end ensues. Critics snubbed the film as ‘lust in the dust’ but audiences flocked to see the sultry Pearl.
A few years later Jennifer Jones donned yellowface to play Eurasian Dr Han Suyin in Love is a Many Splendored Thing – another doomed and forbidden romance.
Full body makeup was used to give Pearl her dark complexion as can be seen in the image with Lillian Gish.
TCM credits Blagoe Stephanoff and Norbert Miles for makeup.