The Burton homestead has lived in peace with its white and Indian neighbors for thirty years, but a murder campaign by new chief Buffalo Horn finds the family forced to choose their loyalty by belligerents from both sides. Sam Burton wants to weather the storm, but when the neighboring Howard homestead is massacred, the local whites turn on the Burtons because Sam's wife Neddy is an Indian, and his second son Pacer a half-breed. The Burton allegiance is also coveted by Buffalo Horn and his young brave Two Moons, while Sam's white son Clint is pressured by the locals back at the crossroads to defect to the all-white camp. Only the Burtons and local girl Roslyn Pierce can see beyond the hysteria, and soon more violence breaks out.
Flaming Star' Opens
SINCE Elvis Presley previously has been involved in worlds he never made, it shouldn't startle the Paramount's patrons to find him, after his recent Army hitch in "G.I. Blues." again embattled—this time as a half-breed American Indian—in "Flaming Star."
It is surprising, however, that this small, somber view of some of the misunderstanding and bloody strife between settlers and Indians in Texas of the Eighteen Seventies is equally passionate about both. No guitar gala, "Flaming Star" is an unpretentious but sturdy Western that takes the time, the place and the people seriously.
Elvis, for the record, is merely one of the principals caught up in the tensions exposed here. Both the author, Clair Huffaker, and Nunnally Johnson, with whom he collaborated on the script, focus is much on his family as they do on the hero. It is a closely knit, loving unit, seemingly integrated with and well liked by the neighbors until some of them are massacred by aroused Kiowas after a birthday party. The Indians are not simply presented as heavies" but also as beleaguered men being ruthlessly deprived, in their view, of their lands.
The hatreds that follow misconceptions are suggested logically. The whites are balefully suspicious of old man Burton who loves and steadfasly stands by his Kiowa wife, his half-breed son and his white son by a previous marriage. The Indians, they eel, give them special conderation and protection. And, when the clashes do occur, it is a double-edged digmma for the Burton family especially Elvis), who find themselves physically and spiritually caught in the middle. The warfare destroys all not one of the Burtons in an unhappy ending that seems to underline the sadness of the period when the Indian beg to vanish.
Don Siegel's direction workmanlike and delibera except in the massacre sequence which has the element of surprise and shock. All though he is not called on carry a histrionic load, Mr. Presley, thanks to fine makeup and the color cameras, is a passable red youth. He is also allowed to twang the guitar in one cowboy ballad, so the film cannot be listed as a total loss by the rock the rollers.
Elvis does not get the gift. However, he does allow, climactically, that he was run mantically inclined toward the white leading lady all along, but deferred in favor of his white half-brother. He sits a horse well and is properly brave and stoic, even in the point where he sees the "flaming star" of death.
As a matter of fact, John McIntire, as the understanding head of the ill-fated clam contributes the film's best portrayal, one that is understated and convincing. Dolores De Rio is the soul of restraint an his quietly longsuffering Indian wife, and Steve Forrest as the white son, is equall subdued but effective as man torn by blood ties and blood shed. Barbara Eden in decorative as the blonde why adores Elvis.
Although it is not electrifying, "Flaming Star" make a neat and satisfying adventure.
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