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Our brothers will be free!
~ Sam Eagle Speaker trying to kill the cubs.

Sam Eagle Speaker is the main antagonist of Disney's 1974 live action film The Bears and I, which is based on the 1968 novel by Robert Franklin Leslie. He is a treacherous bear hunter who wants to kill Bob Leslie and his bear cubs named Scratch, Patch and Rusty. He was also responsible for killing the cubs' mother.

He was portrayed by the late Valentin de Vargas.

Role in the film

Bob first meets Sam when he visits Oliver Red Fern's store to find the chief, Peter A-Tas-Ka-Nay. Sam asks Bob if he's going hunting and pays him $10 before leaving.

While Bob has been studying a family of black bears, he hears gunshots coming from their territory and notices Sam and his sportsmen driving away in their boat carrying the mother's corpse away. He then adopts the three cubs and names them Scratch, Patch and Rusty.

When Bob and the cubs head to Oliver Red Fern's store, they are attacked by a pack of dogs and the cubs escape onto a tree, while Sam watches with satisfaction. Bob asks Oliver why no one helped the cubs, to which Oliver replies that the bears are better off being killed than living in captivity. Bob tries to convince him that the cubs were helpless, but Sam accuses him of doing it for financial interests. Sam tries to shoot the cubs but Bob stops him and they fight until the chief separates them. The chief convinces Bob that his interference with the bears' lives has violated the authority of the Great Spirit and orders him to set them free, otherwise their lives would be plagued with tragedy, but he secretly continues to care for the cubs.

The next spring, the cubs are matured and ready to be independent, while a national park is being constructed under the government. The chief refuses to leave their land and Sam retaliates against the construction workers. Bob warns the chief that the confrontation may lead to violence and Sam advocates an uprising. Sam attempts to scalp Bob with his knife, but is stopped by one of the officials.

When Bob returns to his cabin and reunites with the cubs, Sam shoots Patch from the trees. Bob chases Sam and he tumbles down a hill, allowing Bob to beat him up and throw his rifle into the pond. Bob comes to Patch's aid and realizes that he survived the gunshot. Sam notices a bottle of gasoline on his boat and sets his cabin on fire, while Bob tries to get a blanket to help Patch. He sees Sam running from the cabin and manages to get the blanket. A wildfire occurs throughout the forest and the tribesmen and the construction workers rush over to put out the flames. They manage to control the fire, but Patch's condition worsens. The chief argues that the bear's fate was in the hands of the Great Spirit, but Bob informs him that Sam was responsible and the chief promises that he would never live in his tribe again.

Trivia

  • During his final fight with Bob, one may notice that the bottle of gasoline wasn't in his boat before he used it to set the cabin on fire.
  • In the book, two of the cubs were killed by Sam.

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