Seminole (1953)

86-87 or 89 mins | Western | March 1953

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HISTORY

According to a written onscreen foreword, the film's story was "taken from the pages of history." While many of the historical and biographical details presented in the film were factual, some of the names in the film, including Major Francis Dade, were changed. A Feb 1952 HR news item adds Marjorie Bennett to the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Modern sources add Dan Poore to the cast. For information about Chief Osceola and the Seminole Wars, see entry for Naked in the Sun in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ... More Less

According to a written onscreen foreword, the film's story was "taken from the pages of history." While many of the historical and biographical details presented in the film were factual, some of the names in the film, including Major Francis Dade, were changed. A Feb 1952 HR news item adds Marjorie Bennett to the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Modern sources add Dan Poore to the cast. For information about Chief Osceola and the Seminole Wars, see entry for Naked in the Sun in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Feb 1953.
---
Daily Variety
19 Feb 53
p. 3.
Film Daily
4 Mar 53
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Jun 52
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 52
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Feb 53
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
21 Feb 52
p. 1733.
Variety
25 Feb 53
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
Story and scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit prod mgr
Scr supv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
DETAILS
Release Date:
March 1953
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 20 March 1953
Production Date:
late June--late July 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Universal Pictures Co.
Copyright Date:
2 February 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2248
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
86-87 or 89
Length(in feet):
7,804
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16154
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1835, at Fort King, the U.S. Army headquarters for the Florida territory, Col. Zachary Taylor is presiding over the court-martial of Second Lieutenant Lance Caldwell, who faces a death sentence for disobeying orders, insubordination and murder. Lance pleads his innocence, and tells his version of the story, beginning at the time when he first rode into the Florida Territory as a graduate from West Point: Soon after arriving at Fort King, Lance is told by Major Degan, his strict commanding officer, of plans to move the "savage" Seminole Indians to reservations in the West to make room for agricultural development. Degan also tells Lance that Chief Osceola, the leader of the Seminoles, is standing in the way of their plans by refusing to let his people be driven from Florida. Lance's suggestion that the Army open a dialogue with the Seminoles is met with the swift reproach of Degan, who believes that "flushing out" the Indians by force is the only way to remove them. Later that evening, Lance visits his childhood sweetheart, Revere Muldoon, whom he has not seen since he left for West Point five years earlier. The two reminisce about their half-Indian friend, John Powell, who, Revere says, has disappeared. Revere evades further questions about John, as he is actually Osceola, her sweetheart. Later, Osceola tells Revere that he would like to meet with Lance to discuss peace, and sends her back to the camp with an invitation. Meanwhile, Lance and his detail, scouting the everglade region, encounter Seminoles, and one of Lance's men shoots a retreating Indian chief in the back. The dead chief is Kulac, whose son, Kajeck, is ... +


In 1835, at Fort King, the U.S. Army headquarters for the Florida territory, Col. Zachary Taylor is presiding over the court-martial of Second Lieutenant Lance Caldwell, who faces a death sentence for disobeying orders, insubordination and murder. Lance pleads his innocence, and tells his version of the story, beginning at the time when he first rode into the Florida Territory as a graduate from West Point: Soon after arriving at Fort King, Lance is told by Major Degan, his strict commanding officer, of plans to move the "savage" Seminole Indians to reservations in the West to make room for agricultural development. Degan also tells Lance that Chief Osceola, the leader of the Seminoles, is standing in the way of their plans by refusing to let his people be driven from Florida. Lance's suggestion that the Army open a dialogue with the Seminoles is met with the swift reproach of Degan, who believes that "flushing out" the Indians by force is the only way to remove them. Later that evening, Lance visits his childhood sweetheart, Revere Muldoon, whom he has not seen since he left for West Point five years earlier. The two reminisce about their half-Indian friend, John Powell, who, Revere says, has disappeared. Revere evades further questions about John, as he is actually Osceola, her sweetheart. Later, Osceola tells Revere that he would like to meet with Lance to discuss peace, and sends her back to the camp with an invitation. Meanwhile, Lance and his detail, scouting the everglade region, encounter Seminoles, and one of Lance's men shoots a retreating Indian chief in the back. The dead chief is Kulac, whose son, Kajeck, is eager to wage a battle with the whites. Back at the fort, Degan reprimands Lance for stalling the offensive against the Seminoles, and for dressing down the soldier who shot at the "hostiles." Degan then dismisses Lance's warning against an immediate attack on the Seminoles and forms a small detachment to move against Osceola. The detachment is almost completely wiped out by Seminole warriors. Lance is wounded in the battle, but is taken to safety by Osceola, who recognizes Lance as his old friend. Only Degan and one of his officers make it back to the fort, where the colonel, driven to distraction by the defeat, makes a desperate attempt to cover up his misguided "expedition." He calls in Revere, and after accusing her and Lance of consorting with the enemy, gives her an opportunity to prove her innocence by arranging a powwow with Osceola. Degan's guarantee of a truce proves false, however, when, during the powwow, Degan has Osceola beaten nearly to death and thrown in a pit. When Lance angrily accuses Degan of deception, Degan strikes Lance across the face and vows to court-martial him. Later that night, Kajeck sneaks into the fort, kills a guard and tries to knife Osceola for "failing" his people. Lance makes an unsuccessful attempt to save Osceola from the attack, but when Kajeck flees, Lance is accused of murdering the sentry. Lance concludes his testimony before the court-martial by swearing on oath that his version of the story is true. The court finds Lance guilty of murdering the sentry, and he is sentenced to death. Moments before Lance's scheduled execution, Revere arrives with Kajeck, who confesses his guilt. Lance is exonerated and Degan is disgraced. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.