Flaming Star

1960

Action / Western

28
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 91%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 73%
IMDb Rating 6.6 10 2617

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Barbara Eden as Roslyn Pierce
Elvis Presley as Pacer Burton
L.Q. Jones as Tom Howard
Steve Forrest as Clint Burton
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
755.49 MB
1280*720
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 41 min
P/S 0 / 2
1.45 GB
1920*1080
English
NR
23.976 fps
1hr 41 min
P/S 1 / 3

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird 8 / 10

A different Elvis Presley film

Elvis Presley was a hugely influential performer with one of the most distinctive singing voices of anybody. He embarked on a film career consisting of 33 films from 1956 to 1969, films that did well at the box-office but mostly panned critically (especially his later films) and while he was a highly charismatic performer he was never considered a great actor.

'Flaming Star', to me and most likely many others, is in the top 3 of Elvis' films. The other two being 'Jailhouse Rock' and 'King Creole'. All three living proof that some of Elvis' early films are pretty good or more and that he could give a good performance when his material allowed it. Can definitely understand why his later films are not highly thought of generally. 'Flaming Star' is a different Elvis film, being grittier and more dignified than most of his films as well as one of his most emotional and it is much more of a western than it is a musical (with there only being two songs and both sung early on).

Thankfully it is also a good different Elvis film. Sure the ending is abrupt and there are a few suspension of disbelief moments (i.e. in the desert). However Elvis gives perhaps the second best acting performance he's ever given after 'King Creole', giving a performance of great intensity and honest emotion.

He is very well supported by a top notch cast, including Steve Forrest, Dolores Del Rio and John McIntire. As well as the brilliant direction of Don Siegel, one of the best directing jobs for an Elvis film along with Michael Curtiz's for 'King Creole'. The little songs there are are still hauntingly beautiful, and the rousing but affecting music score is a perfect fit.

Advantaging things further are a surprisingly dignified and meaty script (two adjectives you don't associate often with scripts for an Elvis film) and a story that's gripping in its poignant tragedy and gritty violent nature. The tension is sustained beautifully while the photography and scenery are first-class.

In summary, a different and very good Elvis Presley film. 8/10 Bethany Cox

Reviewed by Scott LeBrun 8 / 10

Sobering and visceral entertainment.

Elvis Presley does a lot of acting but barely any singing in this gripping film version of Clair Huffakers' novel, scripted by the author and Nunnally Johnson. The King plays Pacer Burton, a half breed living in West Texas after the Civil War. His father is white rancher Sam Burton (John McIntire), and his mother is former Kiowa tribe member Neddy Burton (Dolores del Rio). The Burton family tries not to get involved when Neddy's people start to wage war, but Pacer will eventually have to make a choice as to which side he'll take.

There are two songs, both of which are over and done with before the ten minute mark, leaving us with a fairly meaty story of racism, tolerance, and loyalty, a number of very credible performances, and some well executed action scenes. The great Don Siegel is in fine form as he directs the film towards an emotional finish, and gives us a couple of startlingly violent moments along the way. Of course, this being 1960, Hollywood still wasn't ready to be truly politically correct when it came to the portrayal of Indians in American film. However, the story does have characters whom one can understand even if they don't condone what they do.

"Flaming Star" has some very poignant moments (the "flaming star" of the title is an omen of death), all enhanced by a rousing, moving music score composed by Cyril J. Mockridge and Irving Gertz. Lovely widescreen photography is another strong asset.

The King is highly engaging in the lead, delivering a performance of real depth and passion. Films like this show that he could be genuinely good as an actor without falling back on charm. The supporting cast is excellent, and full of familiar faces: Steve Forrest (as Pacers' older half brother), Barbara Eden, del Rio, McIntire, Rodolfo Acosta, Karl Swenson, Ford Rainey, Richard Jaeckel, L.Q. Jones, Perry Lopez, Virginia Christine, Roy Jenson, Red West. Horror genre legend Barbara Steele was originally cast in Edens' part, but walked off the picture after an argument with Siegel.

"Flaming Star" remains an emotionally affecting film for much of its relatively brief duration (92 minutes all told).

Eight out of 10.

Reviewed by Gary R. Peterson 7 / 10

A House Divided Against Itself . . .

Hollywood had by 1960 honed the Western to a fine edge and FLAMING STAR is a testimony to that. It's a polished product with a compelling story, beautiful color and Cinemascope showing wide open vistas.

There are biblical allusions a'plenty in this film. First is an underscoring of the injunction against marrying outside one's own people. The tragic lives of Esau, Samson, and Solomon testify to the whirlwind that is reaped when one marries strange women with strange gods. Sam Burton married the Indian squaw Neddy and, while appearing to be assimilated, she still clung to her Kiowa superstitions, such as the flaming star of the title. These superstitions she passed onto her half-breed son Pacer, sowing seeds of dissent.

Over Neddy's grave Sam recites Genesis 3:20 about Eve being the mother of all living. That sets up the Cain and Abel conflict between Clint and Pacer, which fortunately isn't followed through to the bloodshed. Their eventual reconciliation stirs up memories of Jacob and Esau and the younger brother saving the older evokes Joseph and his brothers.

The story enjoys added heft due these parallels to age-old stories, whether or not author Cliff Huffaker ever drew upon them intentionally.

Joining Elvis were three actors on the cusp of small screen fame. John McIntire was in a lot of films but arguably it would be his replacing the late Ward Bond on WAGON TRAIN soon after FLAMING STAR was released that made him a household name. Steve Forrest was a few years shy of starring in THE BARON and later S.W.A.T. where his handle "Hondo" was a nod to the great Western. Barbara Eden, in a smaller role than her billing led me to anticipate, would five years later co-star on I DREAM OF JEANNIE.

Rodolfo Acosta, fondly remembered as Vaquero on THE HIGH CHAPARRAL, was excellent as Kiowa chief Buffalo Horn. Dolores Del Rio played Neddy with dignity, at least until the scene where she runs out into the night like a woman possessed. Both Acosta and Del Rio were Hispanic, yet each played American Indians with such aplomb to silence the P.C. police who feel compelled to cry "red face" about cross-ethnic casting.

Rounding out the cast are familiar faces like Karl Swenson, Richard Jaeckel, Ford Rainey, and an especially loathsome Tom Reese as an uncouth Indian-hating trapper. L.Q. Jones is also on hand. Jones had a bigger role in LOVE ME TENDER but went uncredited. He's credited here, but he hardly earns it before a tomahawk is buried in his forehead.

Elvis right out of the gate in LOVE ME TENDER had proved his acting abilities. In FLAMING STAR he sings only the opening theme song and a forgettable, high-spirited song at the birthday party. He played his character so well it was easy to forget this was Elvis.

The story does some light philosophizing on prejudice, reflecting the era in which it was released, which was just before Christmas 1960, with John F. Kennedy the president-elect and the civil rights movement underway. As Pacer storms out to join the Kiowa, Clint reminds him he's civilized. But Pacer points to the hateful bigots in town who see all Indians as murdering savages. If that's civilization, he wants no part of it. And who can blame him? But Buffalo Horn is guilty of painting with the same broad brush, seeing all whites--men, women, and children--as intruders to be eradicated from his land.

The story doesn't delve deep into these issues, but raises the questions. The solution appears to lie with a remnant of reasonable people, like Sam, Clint, and Roslyn, who judge each person individually. The doctor's daughter has no fear of Pacer, knowing him as a family friend and not a threat. In bringing about racial harmony, the children will lead.

The ending felt rushed and was unsatisfactory; for example, the climactic battle with the Kiowa occurs off screen. Since he lived to ride into town, did Pacer defeat the whole tribe single-handedly? On the city limits of civilization, Pacer reverts to paganism, turns and rides off to the hills to die a Kiowa's death. Suddenly the film closes with Steve Forrest's embarrassing parody of SHANE.

A good film even if a flawed one, and a muddled one in its philosophizing that came across more as grasping for relevance circa 1960. McIntire and Forrest add weight to the movie, and Elvis elevates it above average. Worth seeking out.

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