Movies and Film

Between a Rock and a Hard Place – Seminole (1953)


Seminole is the story of an army scout who is torn between his duty and what is right, wanting to obey the major under whom he serves, but knowing that what he orders could spell potential doom between both soldiers and Indians. Starring Rock Hudson, Anthony Quinn, Barbara Hale and Richard Carlson, Seminole is a big, bright and beautiful film made by Universal Pictures in 1953. A crisis of conscience and a moral dilemma are nothing new when it comes to the western genre, but when done right, they do make for the very best of films. When it comes to this particular movie, that holds true and it is captivating to see Hudson battle it out with his commander, trying his very best to avoid what could amount to catastrophic calamities.

Richard Carlson is a great actor and he does a good job in the role of fort leader Major Harlan Degan. Some might say that he slightly overacted the part, but watching this, one has to come to the conclusion that it was necessary in order to bring across that stubborn, righteous attitude he sports. As Degan spouts off in the film, he was the top of his class by following the book and he means to rule by following the book no matter the outcome. Anyone can see that the man is slightly crazy and harbours some hidden damage underneath it all, perhaps some emotional trauma from when he was young, yet no matter how hard Hudson tries to dissuade the man from his chosen path, it is all for naught. Hudson himself is a fine actor and while Seminole is not his first role, it is still early enough in his career that one is able to see the charm and the magnetism shine through, that which would serve him well in years to come as one of the top leading men in Hollywood. He is the perfect foil for Degan and when all is said and done, only one of them is left standing with the truth on their side.

As stated, the film is a Technicolor masterpiece, the costumes and the wilderness exploding upon the screen in all the colours of the rainbow and it is a real treat for those who choose to watch the movie. Budd Boetticher does a fine job directing, but it is Russell Metty and his incredible photography that really bring it to life. Even though it predominantly takes place in the bright of day, it still manages to be quite exciting and even suspenseful at times, specifically the scene where the soldiers are trying to traverse the swamp with a cannon in the back of a wagon and all of it by foot with no horse to be found. Even the poorest soldier among them had to have known what a fool’s errand it was, sneaking up to the enemy’s camp on their own turf like a herd of elephants. It was also this scene that would really drive home just how mad Degan truly was, an interesting contrast between the darkness within him and the brightly lit surroundings he found himself in.

Though the story is a familiar one having played out in many other films, the Hudson-starring Seminole is a delight to watch for its looks and the players who bring it to life. Hudson gives the audience a taste of what he is capable of, Quinn and Hale their usual dependable performances and Carlson a villain everyone wants to hate, but in the end, almost feel sorry for. Though not quite epic in scale, Seminole is still sure to impress.

3.5 out of 5

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