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Western films, from silent to today

Naked in the Sun (1957)

Naked in the Sun (1957) posterJames Craig plays Osceola, a Seminole brave who finds himself leading his tribe in a nearly futile fight to preserve their home in the Florida.

The army wants to move the Indians to a reservation in Oklahoma. And authorities — prodded by wealthy landowners in Georgia — want to classify all of the black allies of the Seminoles as run-away slaves and have them returned to their owners.

Osceola is inclined to resist on both counts. But his battle with the whites also becomes personal when an unscrupulous trader named Wilson (Barton MacLane) snatches the woman he loves (Lita Milan as Chechotah) with the intention of making her his own.

With the element of surprise on their side, the Seminole enjoy early success in their campaign against the army. They burn down a fort and ambush a large detail led by Maj. Francis Dade (Robert Wark), a longtime friend of Osceola.

But the United States can dispatch a seemingly endless tide of troops to reinforcement their efforts to push the Indians from Florida. The Seminole, even under Osceola’s leadership, find it difficult to match that kind of firepower.

Review:

Large-scale action scenes help make this worth watching, even if James Craig seems an unlikely choice to play the leader of the Seminole Nation.

The film is largely sympathetic to the Indians, who are victimized by the influential Wilson, a greedy Indian agent named Gillis and the unscrupulous Gen. Finch. Dennis Cross plays Coacoochee, Osceola’s good friend and ally in the war against the whites.

The marked the third film of the 1950s dealing with the Seminole War, following the Gary Cooper film “Distant Drums” (1951) and “Seminole” (1953).

James Craig as Cheief Osceola and Dennis Cross as Coacoochee in Naked in the Sun (1957)Directed by:
R. John Hugh

Cast:
James Craig … Chief Osceola
aka … Rising Sun
Lita Milan … Chechotah
Barton MacLane … Wilson
Dennis Cross … Coacoochee
Robert Wark … Maj. Francis Dade
Jim Boles … Arthur Gillis
Doug Wilson … Capt. Pace
Peter Dearing … Gen. Finch
Tony Morris … Micanpah
Mike Recco … Amanthla
Tony Hunter … Captain
Bill Armstrong … Lieutenant

Runtime: 88 min.

Memorable lines:

Major Wade: “People don’t like things they can’t understand. I understand the Indians because I was raised with them. But I’m only one man in a country full of generals who can’t understand the Indians. A country full of Indians who can’t understand the generals. And in the middle of them both, a country full of runaway slaves who can’t understand either one of them. It’s a strange thing, captain. ”

Capt. Pace : “How did scum like you get appointed Indian agent?”
Wilson: “It’s very simple, captain. Very simple. All you need is influence and money. And the slave owners have plenty of both.”

Osceola: “Why does the blood of war still feed my heart? Why do I hunger for it?”

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