Arts & Entertainment

Charles Kader: The use of a Navajo Code Talker in 1959 film





Charles Kader investigates how Charles Bronson portrayed a Navajo Code Talker in a 1959 film, decades before the U.S. military declassified the Code Talker mission:
In April 2013, ICTMN published a short story on the motion picture “Never So Few,” a movie with Charles Bronson in a 1959 co-starring role as a Navajo (Dine’) character Sgt. John Danforth. The ICTMN report included the comments of professional photographer Stephanie Allen, Dine’, who had posted a report on her YouTube channel that included a video clip pertaining to her observations of the film. The Charles Bronson character was using the world famous Navajo Codetalker system to radio-relay information to an unseen voice talent actor who responded to the Sgt. Danforth character appropriately enough in the Navajo language. The catch was that although Bronson was unable to speak Navajo authentically, his off-screen counterpart was speaking in the authentic dialect that the Navajo Codetalker language utilized, as well using the classified code system itself employed during World War Two in the Pacific Theater of Operations.

All the more compelling to Ms. Allen was that the United States government did not declassify the original Navajo Codetalker military program or the top-secret language code until 1968, nine years after the film was released. I found an instance from November 2009 where an online forum participant also noted the discrepancy in the film date and the declassification date, but they did not mention the Dine’ language authenticity in the film.

Who was the vocal talent who used the Navajo Codetalker language? And how did the use of the secret code sneak into the film? Was it intentional, inside joke (so to speak)?

Get the Story:
Charles Kader: 'Never So Few': Charles Bronson and the Navajo Codetalkers (Indian Country Today 8/29)