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Naked in the Sun
Alternate Title: Frank G. Slaughter's Naked in the Sun
Director: R. John Hugh (Dir)
Release Date:   29 Sep 1957
Premiere Information:   Los Angeles opening: 17 Sep 1957
Production Date:   Mar 1956 at Empire Studios, Orlando, FL
Duration (in mins):   72 or 78-79
Duration (in feet):   7,115
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Cast:   James Craig (Osceola)  
    Lita Milan (Chechotah)  
    Barton MacLane (Wilson)  
  Introducing Dennis Cross (Coacoochee)  
    Robert Wark (Maj. Francis Dade)  
    Jim Boles (Arthur Gillis)  
    Douglas Wilson (Capt. Pace)  
    Peter Dearing (Gen. Finch)  
    Don Eagle    
    Tony Morris (Micanopah)  
    Mike Grecco (Amathla)  
    Tony Hunter (Captain in Dade's column)  
    Kurt Bryant    
    Bill Armstrong (Lieutenant in Dade's column)  
    Eddie Butler    

Summary: In 1835, in the Florida Everglades, a Seminole woman named Chechotah is awakened by the sound of men approaching on horseback. Led by brutal Georgia slave trader Wilson, the raiders burn the village and capture several former slaves living with the Indians. Eying the beautiful Chechotah, Wilson attempts to capture her, but she escapes. The next morning, Wilson goes to Fort King to complain to Indian agent Arthur Gillis that during the night, the slaves he captured were released by Indians. Gillis explains that although he sold Wilson a license to capture the slaves, many of them have lived with the Seminoles for years and are considered allies by them. When Wilson shows Gillis a distinctive knife that was left at his camp, Gillis recognizes it as belonging to Osceola, a prominent Seminole chief also known as “The Rising Sun.” Although Gillis relates that an anticipated treaty between the Indians and the U.S. government states that the Indians will be able to take their black allies with them when they move from their tribal lands to Oklahoma, Wilson insists that the slaves “stolen” from him be returned. Wilson then threatens to reveal Gillis’ propensity for accepting bribes if he does not arrange for a government patrol to recapture the slaves, and adds that he wants Chechotah for himself, even though she is a Seminole. At the general store, the drunken Wilson is confronted by Osceola, who takes back his knife. When Wilson intimates that he wants Chechotah, the offended Osceola threatens the slave trader, but is stopped by Maj. Francis Dade. Osceola, who grew up with Dade and considers him his brother, backs down, after which Dade reprimands Wilson, telling him that the people he stole were born and reared in Seminole villages and will not be surrendered to him, despite what Gillis had told him. Wilson insists that even the children of escaped slaves belong to the former owners, then storms off. Later, Dade visits Osceola and Chechotah, who were married earlier that day, and pleads with his “red brother” to persuade the other chiefs to accept the treaty. Osceola demurs, stating that if war is to come, it will come. After Dade departs, Chechotah is distressed by the conversation, but later declares proudly that legends will be told about Osceola’s leadership of their people. The next morning, Osceola and Chechotah are captured by Wilson and, after whipping Osceola, Wilson escapes with Chechotah. Infuriated, Osceola seeks help from Gillis, but when the craven agent refuses, Osceola threatens him with his knife. Gillis then has Osceola arrested and vows not to release him until he arranges for the Seminole chiefs to sign the Treaty of Payne’s Landing. At the meeting, Osceola is told by his friend Coacoochee, who had been following Wilson, that Chechotah is presumed dead. When Gillis reads aloud the treaty, the chiefs are horrified to hear that it stipulates the return of their black allies to the slave traders. When Osceola protests, Gen. Finch, a bitter racist, declares that those who do not sign will no longer be recognized by the U.S. government as chiefs of the Seminole nation. Although Chief Amathla signs the treaty, Osceola and the others refuse, and when Osceola plunges his knife into the paper, nearly stabbing Finch’s hand, Finch swears that he will avenge the indignity. As both sides prepare for war, the Seminole council names Osceola their warrior chief. After Amathla sends his people to Fort Brook to prepare for transport to Oklahoma, he is captured and brought before Osceola. Amathla reveals that a column of soldiers is returning from Fort Brook to Fort King as reinforcements, then scorns Osceola’s thirst for war. Osceola kills Amathla, then orders his compatriot Alligator to ambush the column while he prepares an attack on Fort King. Unknown to Osceola, Dade is leading the soldiers traveling to Fort King, and while Osceola’s men burn the fort, Dade’s patrol is slaughtered. Upon learning of Dade’s whereabouts, Osceola rushes to the site of the ambush but arrives too late to save his friend. Finch escaped from the attack on Fort King, however, and soon begins a long series of battles in which the now-crazed general pursues Osceola, while the Indians attack the soldiers. Later, at Fort Brook, the compassionate Capt. Pace watches as the weary Indians are brought by their chiefs for food. Even Osceola eventually arrives, and Pace looks forward to a peaceful resolution to the situation, until he learns that a new treaty sending the Indians to Oklahoma, which guaranteed the inclusion of their black allies, is once again to be broken by a new Indian agent. Pace angrily summons the man and is appalled to discover that Wilson has bribed his way into the influential office. Because an Indian agent has the authority to overturn the conditions of any treaty, Wilson demands that Pace carry out his orders. As the men argue, they are overheard by Osceola, who is lurking outside Pace’s office. Wilson, who did not know that Osceola was at Fort Brook, spots the retreating Indian and is terrified. As Osceola tells the Seminoles of Wilson’s treachery and presses them to leave, he finds Chechotah. Although his wife tells him that she is dead to him because she has been shamed by the white men, Osceola tenderly embraces her. Osceola then sneaks into the fort and attacks Wilson, who falls out a high window to his death. Later, while the starving Indians watch over Micanopah, the head chief of the Seminoles, as he lies dying, Coacoochee comes to the encampment. He tells Osceola that he has been held prisoner by the soldiers for a long time, and that many Seminoles are dying of the “white man’s fever” in the damp cells. He was given his freedom by Finch in exchange for a promise to bring Osceola to sign a new treaty promising the Seminoles all that they want. Although Osceola has found a new, fruitful land farther south, he is weary of war and agrees to go with Coacoochee to Fort Brook. There, even though Osceola carries a white flag of truce, he and Coacoochee are arrested by Finch, as is Pace when he protests Finch’s unethical tactics. As Osceola and Coacoochee languish in the prison, refusing to eat and growing ill, Finch is removed from his command. Although Pace promises Osceola that he will be released, Osceola realizes that as long as he is free, there will be no peace between the Seminoles and the whites. Osceola then tells Coacoochee to escape alone while he remains behind. Coacoochee promises to lead their people to the land found by Osceola and that by taking Osceola’s spirit with him, “the Rising Sun shall never set.” Later, as Coacoochee leads the Seminoles to their new home, Chechotah tearfully looks back at Fort Brook and remembers her words about Osceola’s wisdom. 

Production Company: Empire Studios, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Allied Artists Pictures Corp.  
Director: R. John Hugh (Dir)
  Gayle S. De Camp (Asst dir)
Producer: R. John Hugh (Prod)
Writer: Frank G. Slaughter (Orig story and scr)
  R. John Hugh (Addl dial)
Photography: Charles O'Rork (Dir of photog)
  Glenn Kirkpatrick Jr. (Cam)
Art Direction: Larry D. Lossing (Art dir)
Film Editor: William A. Slade (Ed supv)
Set Decoration: Ray T. Kline Jr. (Sets)
  Waldo B. Moon (Props)
Costumes: Lois McGee (Ward)
Music: Laurence Rosenthal (Mus comp and cond)
Sound: H. R. Hathaway Jr. (Sd rec)
Special Effects: Henderson Gus Bockway (Spec eff)
Make Up: Rudolph G. Liszt (Makeup artist)
  Irene Aparicio (Hair dressing)
Production Misc: Chester L. Seymour Jr. (Unit mgr)
  Robert H. Threadgill (Prod mgr)
  Oneida Hathaway (Script)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the novel The Warrior by Frank G. Slaughter (Garden City, NY, 1956).
Authors: Frank G. Slaughter

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Allied Artists Pictures Corp. 6/10/1957 dd/mm/yyyy LP9250 Yes

PCA NO: 18671
Physical Properties: Sd: RCA Sound System
  col: Eastman Color
  Widescreen/ratio: 1.85:1

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Historical
 
Subjects (Major): Osceola, Seminole chief, 1804--1838
  Revenge
  Seminole Indians
  Seminole War, 2d, 1835-1842
  Slave traders
  Treaties
 
Subjects (Minor): African Americans
  Battles
  Dade's Battle, 1835
  Duplicity
  Everglades (FL)
  Falls from heights
  Florida
  Forts
  Friendship
  Hate
  Indian agents
  Indians of North America
  Kidnapping
  Knives
  Marriage
  Nervous breakdown
  Obsession
  Officers (Military)
  Racism
  Rape
  Self-sacrifice
  Slavery
  Tribal chiefs
  United States. Army

Note: The working title of this film was Osceola . Author Frank G. Slaughter's name appears above the title in the film's opening credits. Voice-over narration at the film's beginning states that this "true story," which took place long ago in the Florida Everglades, "begins with the love of a man for a woman, and ends in a war never won." Modern historians describe the actual events portrayed in the film as follows: After the First Seminole War, 1817--1818, which began when U.S. troops crossed into Florida in pursuit of runaway slaves harbored by the Seminoles, the U.S. purchased the Florida territory from Spain. As white settlers advanced into the new lands, the government instituted the Removal Act, whereby all Eastern Indians were to be relocated to Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma). In 1832, upon the signing of the Treaty of Payne's Landing, the Seminoles were required to relocate and classified with African Americans as runaway slaves.
       Osceola, along with Wildcat [Coacoochee] and Halek, resisted the treaty, periodically raiding U.S. troops and then disappearing into the Florida swamp country. Osceola's warriors killed Gen. Wiley Thompson at Fort King, on the same day in 1835 as three hundred Seminoles under chiefs Micanopah, Alligator and Jumper massacred Maj. Francis Dade's column of one hundred soldiers. In 1837, Osceola attended peace talks under a flag of truce, but Gen. Thomas Jesup captured the elusive chief. Osceola died in a South Carolina prison cell in 1838. Only about three hundred of the four thousand Seminoles inhabiting Florida at the time remained on reservations near Lake Okeechobee, but those who did, unlike the Seminoles who were removed to Oklahoma, retained some of their Indian identity and traditional ways.
       According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, Naked in the Sun was rejected by the PCA in Jun 1956 because the film, as shot, included a "pre-marital affair" between "Osceola" and "Chechotah," as well as "bathing scene nudity." The PCA did not grant approval to the picture until Aug 1957.
       Although the onscreen credits "introduce" actor Dennis Cross, he had appeared in two films previous to Naked in the Sun . Contemporary sources note that the film was shot on location in Florida. Sources conflict as to the length of the film, listing running times between 72 and 82 minutes. It is possible that footage was added after early screenings of the film. According to modern sources, an 88-minute version was also circulated. According to a 6 May 1957 HR news item, the film was to be given a "state sendoff" on 9 May 1957, with several stars of the film and state officials attending the special preview. John Hugh's company was also listed as Everglades Studios, Inc. by some contemporary sources. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Cinema   30 Jul 1958.   
The Exhibitor   11 Dec 1957   p. 4413.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Mar 1956   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   6 May 1957   p. 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   30 Nov 1957   p. 626.

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