Seminole

Talkie of the Week: Seminole

USA 1953, 87 minutes, color, Universal Pictures. Director: Budd Boetticher, Written by Charles K. Peck Jr., Cast: Rock Hudson, Barbara Hale, Anthony Quinn, Richard Carlson, Hugh O’Brian, Russell Johnson, Lee Marvin, Ralph Moody, Fay Roope, James Best, John Dahaim.

Plot summary: When Lt. Caldwell returns to his Florida home to serve at Fort King, he is faced with a strict commander who endangers the peaceful co-existence with the Seminole Indians.

Review: Set in 1835, Seminole tells the story of Lt. Caldwell who is accused of murder of a sentry at Fort King near the Everglades where the Seminole Indians lived in peace with the white settlers until Major Degan took command. Played by Rock Hudson, Caldwell is an honest soldier who grew up in the area and thus knows the Everglades as more than just hostile land. Familiar with the territory, he is a helpful asset to Fort King, but it is his love for Revere Muldoon (Barbara Hale) that actually made him return to his childhood home. Originally a peaceful tribe in the region, the Seminole Indians are now fighting the soldiers at Fort King, first and foremost by their leader Osceola (Anthony Quinn). Seeking a way to negotiate with Osceola, Lt. Caldwell finds his plans thwarted by Major Degan (Richard Carlson) whose misguided ambition poses a threat not only to the settlers and Seminoles, but also to his own men. With the help of Revere, Caldwell tries to avoid a conflict before it gets out of hand, only to find himself charged with murder at the end of a gory battle in the midst of the swampy Everglades.

Blessed with a convincing cast, Seminole was primarily shot in the Everglades National Park in Florida, a place that added to the sweltry atmosphere of this unusual Western. Led by Rock Hudson as handsome and righteous Lt. Caldwell, the actors did a wonderful job breathing life into characters whose destiny is connected and tied to the swamps, especially Osceola’s. Anthony Quinn, always strong as a “noble savage”, shined particularly in the presence of Barbara Hale whose Revere Muldoon is a heroine on her own merit, alluring and strong.

Available on DVD, the film is the perfect treat for anyone who enjoys an ensemble of good actors whose leading stars created a sizzling chemistry on screen. The story itself is suspenseful and dramatic, turning this classic into a perfect gem, especially for those of us who prefer some romance over a blanket to keep ourselves warm in this cold October season.

Seminole trailer

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Studio 57

TV classics: Studio 57

USA 1954-56, 4 seasons,  124 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, DuMont (then syndication), black & white. Produced by: Revue Studios, Sponsored by: Heinz 57. Cast selection: Lex Barker, Jean Byron, Barbara Hale, William Hopper, Brian Keith, DeForest Kelley, Angela Lansbury, Peter Lawford, Peter Lorre, James Nolan, Hugh o’Brian, Aaron Spelling, Rod Taylor, Bill Williams, Natalie Wood and many others

Plot summary: An anthology TV series, Studio 57 featured different genres, plots, actors and storylines every week.

Review: It is hard to review and sum up a program as diverse as Studio 57. Not uncommon in the 1950s, Studio 57 was one of those anthology series that featured a different storyline and cast of actors every week. Although mostly introducing unfamiliar faces, the show also had its number of rising stars and well-known actors, including Angela Lansbury, Peter Lorre, Barbara Hale, Bill Williams or Brian Keith. With its diversity of genres, Studio 57 met the style of the many other anthology shows. Due its often marginally successful scripts and not always driving force talents and names, the show was rather short-lived.

One of the better known episodes is “Young Couples Only”, starring Barbara Hale, Bill Williams and Peter Lorre. With its science fiction plot, the episode is a good example for the often well cast shows but poor storytelling. Although not extremely suspenseful by today’s standards, the episode is great fun to watch for everyone who enjoys the marvelous talents of the lead actors. The script may not have given them a lot of material to work with, but they do the best with what they have. Peter Lorre is eerily spooky as the apartment building’s janitor, and Barbara Hale and Bill Williams do a beautiful-as-always job to stir up suspense, fear and suspicions with the little meaningful lines they got to convey the plot.

All in all, Studio 57 is a program for everyone who is interested in TV history, in anthology series and rarely shown material with a beloved or sometimes little known cast of actors. Selected episodes are available on DVD and very worth checking out if you want to get a more accentuated impression of the diversity of 1950s programs and a sense of the roots of contemporary TV.

Available online here.