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Naked in the Sun

Naked in the Sun(1957)

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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 June 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 August 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 May 6, 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item, the film was to be given a "state sendoff" on May 9, 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.