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Battles of Chief Pontiac

Battles of Chief Pontiac(1952)


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This film opens with the following spoken foreword: "This is the city of Detroit. Where this teeming industrial metropolis now stands, there was some two hundred years back, a small guarded fort, protecting a handful of white settlers. Fort Detroit was surrounded by many Indian tribes. The most prominent of these was the Ottawas, a proud people who in the period from 1763 to 1769, was ruled over by Chief Pontiac. Pontiac was a great warrior, a man of faith, who believed the Indian and white man could live together. The English who controlled his territory, hired professional German soldiers known as Hessians, to help patrol the area. One of the Hessian officers, a Colonel von Weber, did not share Pontiac's point of view. He was ambitious, ruthless and greedy for power."
       As depicted in the film, during the French and Indian War, after the French surrendered the northern territories to the British, Hessian troops were hired as reinforcements. Modern historical sources also recount that the British instituted more regulations to control the Native Americans than the French and planned to take over the territories completely. Chief Pontiac waged several attacks against Fort Detroit, which was under the command of Major Henry Gladwin, but Gladwin forestalled the attacks after being forewarned by informers. At Fort Pitt, Captain Simeon Ecuyer was also under attack by local tribes, and followed orders from Lord Jeffrey Amherst, then British commander-in-chief of the Americas, to send smallpox-ridden blankets to the tribes. Many Native Americans died from the resulting smallpox epidemic. After the French were compelled to withdraw their support of the Native Americans when the Treaty of Paris was signed, Pontiac called a truce.
       A 1950 Variety news item noted that an original story titled "Chief Pontiac," written by Jack DeWitt and Woodruff Smith, was purchased by Jack Schwarz Productions. DeWitt receives sole writing credit onscreen and Smith's contribution to the final screenplay has not been confirmed. Schwarz's connection to the final film is also unknown. A July 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Roy Engel to the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to July and August 1952 Hollywood Reporter news items, some scenes were shot on location in Colorado and South Dakota.