SEMINOLE—-Universal was putting 28-year old Rock Hudson through action film paces in 1953, this one taking a cue from Warners recent successful Gary Cooper matinée Distant Drums in using the Seminole Wars in Florida for a ‘SouthEastern’. Though famous Seminole leader ‘Osceola’ (Anthony Quinn, also marking time in costume fodder) is present, and Zachary Taylor gets name-dropped, history is tweaked as usual, and director Budd Boetticher employs the same cavalier inaccuracy with props and chronology that he used that year in the Glenn Ford turkey The Man From The Alamo.
The brief 87 minutes has a decent patch of Everglades swamp-trekking atmosphere (some of those bird calls are from avian relatives of SE Asia, but “how many out there in the audience will know or care”) as the army stumbles after the elusive tribes. Boetticher stages a pretty good ambush sequence when rigid West Point major Richard Carlson (so scrambled being half uptight/half frantic he’s nearly fanatic) blunders into fight-anxious brave Hugh O’Brian (looking pretty butch cool) and his twilight trap kicks soldier butt.* Rock’s more reasonable lieutenant and his ‘old friend’ Osceola both love the same frontier gal (Barbara Hale, looking pretty hot’cha in the lusty Paulette Goddard/Maureen O’Hara/Yvonne De Carlo frontier gal mode—low cut blouse, wild mane of hair, canoe-able). Her character also sports the pulp-blessed name ‘Revere Muldoon.’
Nonsense, with Lee Marvin (low key), Russell Johnson, Ralph Moody, James Best (going bananas) and lots of bad dialog barked forth. Coughing up $3.080,000, Rock’s burgeoning fan base put this 88th for the year. One of a dozen second-feature action pix Hudson had to learn craft with in the early 50s, five in ’53 alone. Richard Carlson would return to a Universal swamp next year, seeking the Creature From The Black Lagoon.
* There were three Seminole Wars, ranging from 1816 to 1858, the complex, embarrassing and sad saga the longest, most expensive and costliest in casualties of the governments many (ongoing, it seems) land-instigated
thefts conflicts with Native Americans. Often referred to as America’s ‘First Vietnam’, the second being the Philippines ‘Insurrection’. Just think of the possibilities for human rights/kills his own people/new/Hitler/ Expanding Freedom lying dormant in Venezuela…