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In 'Yellowstone Kelly,' Clint 'Cheyenne' Walker plays a muscular
fur-trapper who prevents war between Indians and U.S. Cavalry, and who
survives only to find true love in the arms of a beautiful and talented
newcomer Andrea Martin...
Becoming a 'squaw man' and a devoted one, Clint Walker goes Western all the way in this standard action film with routine excitements and a cast of TV faces: John Russell as the tall, darkly chief prancing across the plains; Ray Danton as the Indian with conviction and authority; Claude Akins as the heavy tough sergeant; and Warren Oates making his debut as a proud soldier...
With the absence of a strong story line in the screenplay, but displaying an outstanding Technicolor photography, 'Yellowstone Kelly' is
This unpretentious and well-paced film min my judgment almost redefines the 'B' movie. It uses the talents of solid-plot novelist Clay Fisher, action director Gordon Douglas's skills, script additions by Burt Kennedy, lucid cinematography by Carl Guthrie, costumes by Marjorie Best, set decorations by William Wallace and a good cast of supporting actors. The storyline is a very simple one. Luther Kelloey has saved the life of a Sioux chief, Gall. Because of this during the troubles in their country, he is still allowed to set his traplines. After some trouble with toughs at a fort, he enlists young tenderfoot Anse Harper as his helper--before discovering he is hopeless at everything; then Kelley heads upcountry. Once there, they save an Arapaho woman fleeing her enemies. Answe worships her; she falls in love with Kelley, but he fights the urge as he nurses her back to health. Then all discover that it is the Sioux chief who wants her back. Anse dies; and finally he has to lead soldiers against the Sioux to save the ill-led patrol; and he kills Gall's nephew, the real troublemaker in the situation, in battle. He then advises the Sioux chief to leave the Yellowstone country, telling him it no longer smiles on them; and they follow his advice. The film stars popular and very large Clint Walker, in the best of several western he was allowed to make in the 1950s, as who did not; Anse is well-done by Edd Byrnes, John Russell is the Sioux chief, Ray Danton the deadly nephew and Andra Martin the lovely Arapaho woman. Claude Akins as a skeptical sergeant, Rex Reason, Gary Vinson and Warren Oates are also featured. This is a very authentic western, physically-beautiful. The viewer learns a lot about what it takes to survive in the West through the very Eastern eyes of Anse; also, Kelley's very sound advice is doubted, not heeded or contradicted by soldiers, with the result that they need him to save their hides. This is not a great picture; but I suggest as a writer its authors gave it clear motivations, a solid story line for its under-budgeted producers to realize. The dialogue is above average, terse, never show; and Douglas's camera has quite a bit to work with in the way of interior dialogue exchanges, action scenes and angry confrontations. The highlight comes when Martin tells Walker, "You have LOOKED AT ME." From that moment, we know he likes her, she wants him--and all they have to do is fight a major battle against angry Sioux warriors to win their future...Many viewers have found this to be a very unpretentious and entertaining 'B' effort.
Warner Brothers came up with a winner in this film of a fur trader who finds himself caught in the middle of a cavalry-Indian just wants to run his trap lines in Montana high country but proposed treaty-breaking by the government poses the threat of an Indian uprising. The film dwells a bit on a sub plot that has Kelly saving an Indian maiden's life as well as playing wet nurse to a tenderfoot who seeks to win the trapper's friendship and respect. There is a fine battle scene between the soldiers and the Indians, one of the best of its type and is the film's high point. John Russell, Ray Danton and Claude Akins are among the cast names that contribute greatly to fine story. Andra Martin is striking as the Arapahoe girl and a point of contention between Kelly and the Sioux warriors. Edd Byrnes is okay as Kelly's young helper. Outstanding camera work and music score make this forgotten western one of the genre's best pictures.
Magnificent locations, a pleasant adventure: "Yellowstone Kelly" is a
typical nice western movie of the 1950s and, in my personal opinion, it is a
relevant instance of a better way of making cinema (better than the current
one, I mean).
The movie has merits and defects. Among the merits (apart the already quoted beauty of the photography): the fast-pace of the narration; a number of well-elaborated action scenes; the presence of Andra Martin as the Arapaho girl Wahleeah. In fact, beautiful Martin manages to create, with few but skillful touches, a soft erotic atmosphere rather unusual in western movies of that epoch. However, it should be noted that her (splendid) blue eyes are a relevant clumsiness of the movie. Clint Walker, in the role of the trapper Yellowstone Kelly, is a nice guy, though certainly not a great actor. As always in mature 1950's westerns, the war between whites and Indians is provoked by either hot-heads or rogues, in the present case a stupid ambitious cavalry officer: this remark is just intended to contradict the false common-place that in those years Indians were always represented as blood-thirsty savage assassins.
The story is placed around the Wyoming-Montana border: however the final part was evidently filmed in the wonderful area of Sedona, Arizona. I'm not able to decide whether this could be considered a defect of the movie: probably not. The worst flaw in the film is the fact that all Sioux perfectly understand and speak English (?). There are several other inaccuracies. For instance: I may be wrong, but I bet that the Blue Soldiers had never been equipped with Winchester carabines.
I saw "Yellowstone Kelly" at the theatre, when I was a kid: the pleasant impressions I retained have been confirmed by my recent new view at the TV. I recommend this movie, especially to people nostalgic of good old western flicks.
Sure, Gordon Douglas directed some pictures they are not worth watching - like all of (star)directors including Ford, Hawks, Lang or Hitchcock too. For me is Douglas one of the most underrated US-filmmakers of the fifties and sixties, because he did great jobs in very different genres. "Formicula" for example is a thrilling horror- stuff, "The Detective" a fine police-movie with Frank Sinatra. His best pictures did Douglas in the western-genre, and I think, "Rio Conchos", "Barquero" and "Fort Dobbs" should have a place in the hall of fame of western. His best picture at all for me is "Yellowstone Kelly" from Warner Bros., an also underrated western, which tells the story of mountain man Luther Kelly, who has a romance with a young Sioux maid on dangerous ground. A long time he don't accept the voice of his heart, and so his young sidekick, a greenhorn impressive portrayed by Edward Byrnes, must die. Big Clint Walker, also appears in "Fort Dobbs", is wonderful in the role of Kelly, and in the supporting cast you may find excellent actors like Claude Akins, Ray Danton and Warren Oates at the beginning of their career. The action scenes are well-made, the Technicolor-photographed landscape is so beautiful like Max Steiners score. If you like western, this picture for sure will become one of your all-time-favorites.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A well-reputed fur-trapper, Apache-scout, and frontiersman, Luther
"Yellowstone" Kelly, decides to "hire on" a teenaged Anse Harper (teen
idol, Edd Byrnes) against his better judgment but grows fond of the
boy. Always a loner, Kelly felt (up until he meets Anse, and later
Arapaho beauty, Wahleeah (Andra Martin)) he was best on his own, but
Anse is a gentle-voiced, non-combative, polite young man who does what
he's told to the best of his abilities. Soon, Kelly and Anse run up on
the Sioux (led by Gall (John Russell) and his fiery, antagonistic
nephew, Sayapi (Ray Danton)), while journeying back to Kelly's cabin
(traveling through "the snake" into the "high country" of Montana
(where the "springs get quite green")). Saving Gall's "woman", Wahleeah
(who wishes to return to her own people), from certain death, Kelly
earns brownie points and is allowed to leave (along with Anse). The
Calvary (with the likes of Claude Akins and debuting Warren Oates, as
well as, Rhodes Reason and Gary Vinson) want to drive out the Sioux by
taking an accompaniment of soldiers through "the snake", but Kelly
warns against such foolishness. Kelly, though, understands that the
White Man will eventually take the land due to strength in numbers.
Clint Walker is hired for his screen presence and build (the camera of director Gordon Douglas shoots Walker's Kelly as if he were a towering legend, with the expected close-ups of his non-violent, peace-desiring, conflict-weary face) more than any serious acting chops, but I never felt he wasn't adequate in the part. It isn't like Kelly needed the "method touch" or anything. Edd was probably casted to secure the teen-youth market; he is the moral compass that questions the choice of Kelly to allow Wahleeah to return to the Sioux as she clearly is held by them against her will. Kelly has that dilemma upon him Wahleeah escapes from the Sioux, stealing one of their ponies in the night, successfully making it to Kelly's cabin. Kelly makes a stance towards Gall regarding Wahleeah; because she's still in bad health due to her past injuries, Kelly refuses to allow Gall to escort her away when Wahleeah is in no shape to travel. Sayapi is the main heavy of the film as the prideful, aggressive, hostile Sioux warrior questioning Gall's judgment and bravery, soon responsible for tragedy involving Anse (who intends to take Wahleeah to her people despite Kelly's orders to keep her in the cabin), earning Kelly's vengeance. Of course, there's the battle at the end (as expected by these kinds of western adventures) where the Sioux engage Kelly and the remaining survivors left of the Calvary with guns firing, dust kicked up, and bodies hitting the ground. "Yellowstone Kelly" is surprisingly violent, with plenty of knife and gun violence, especially when Kelly goes after Sayapi and the Sioux in his company. This wouldn't be complete without fisticuffs so Walker tolerates the heckling of Akins and Oates up to a point until he has no choice but to lay the smack to them (yep, a water trough and window are used to subdue the rude soldiers who mocked Kelly by calling him an Indian; Kelly respects Native American tribes, and he doesn't even make much of a fuss when the soldiers first rib him in a bar, but a stagecoach dust up pushes him too far).
The script doesn't actually bang the patriot drum, with some sympathy towards tribes affected by White Man's colonization of their land. Russell, as Gall, follows the lead of many Caucasian actors "dressed in red face" as he carries a "man-of-few-words, pillar of strength" approach to the Sioux leader not to be disrespected and not quick to rush into anything without thinking of the consequences. There's a great scene where Sayapi seems ready to approach Kelly (against Gall's wishes) when Gall grabs him by the throat in a clinch and makes the kid fall to the ground this tells you that Gall is in charge for a reason. Gall's built for it while Sayapi goes too far and winds up just as he does by film's end. There's something that stayed with me regarding how Kelly tells Gall to take his men and go because the land no longer treats them well the script has a lot of this (saying that the former occupants of a land that had been there's for ages is taken from them, with White Man telling them to find somewhere else to call home).
Yellowstone Kelly is directed by Gordon Douglas and adapted to
screenplay by Burt Kennedy from the Clay Fisher (AKA: Heck Allen) book
of the same name. It stars Clint Walker, Edd Byrnes, John Russell, Ray
Danton, Claude Akins, Andra Martin and Rhodes Reason. A Technicolor
production filmed out of Sedona and Coconino National Forest in
Arizona, with music by Howard Jackson and cinematography by Carl
"The West was opened by courageous trail-blazing pioneers like Lewis and Clark and Luther "Yellowstone" Kelly - - trapper, surveyor, and Indian scout who was the first frontiersman to cross the mighty Yellowstone Valley."
A very well made Western, one that features some quite breath taking scenery captured by Carl Guthrie (Fort Massacre/Gunfight At Dodge City), Yellowstone Kelly falls into the category of straight conventional Oaters.
Story concerns fabled fur trapper Luther Kelly (Walker), who having saved the life of a Sioux chief (Russell) is allowed to move freely in the Sioux territories. However, he finds himself piggy in the middle when the oafish US Cavalry move in to shake their might at the Native Americans. Things are further complicated when he is forced to save the life of an Arapaho woman (Martin), who subsequently runs away from the Sioux's to seek shelter with Kelly and his newly acquired companion, greenhorn Anse Harper (Byrnes). With potential love in the air putting another problem into the equation, Kelly has much to carry on his mightily broad shoulders.
Originally slated to be a John Ford/John Wayne production (they decided to make The Horse Soldiers instead), Yellowstone Kelly is pretty much what it appears to be, that of a vehicle built around Walker as a device to push him forward as a lead actor. Unfortunately, in spite of his massive screen presence, Walker just didn't have the acting chops to be a grade "A" lead off man in film. Yet he was always watchable and engaging, such is the case here. The character of Kelly is interesting and around Walker are a number of TV stars and contract players to ensure there's a professional polish to the production.
There's no surprises in store or deep psychological stirrings, though one extended sequence of Walker and Byrnes shacked up in a log cabin is open to homo-erotic interpretation, and the host of white actors playing Native Americans will irritate some, but this moves along at a good clip and makes for a fun afternoon viewing experience. 6.5/10
The location scenery help make this a fine picture, with TV's Cheyenne, Clint Walker as the title character. Edd (Kooky) Byrnes shows signs that he could have been a good actor in a supporting role. Only real problem is the typical Warner Brothers Indian Maiden...complete with full make-up and blue eyes. The script moves along at a fast pace, the action scenes are great, and Walker appears HUGE on the screen today. This is a fun western to watch.
When the Clint Walker westerns showed up in the late fifties, they had to compete with the traditional actors like John Wayne, James Stewart, Randolph Scott, Audie Murphy, etc... No doubt it was hard to be a newcomer, with those guys there. That's why I missed his films, but the long wait gave me the thrill of seeing "Yellowstone Kelly" now, when westerns are so few, and we have seen most of the old ones. An unpretentious film, but with a top director, Gordon Douglas, an excellent script by Burt Kennedy, good actors like Edd Byrnes, Ray Danton, Andra Martin, Claude Atkins, and a great performance by John Russel as the chief Gall. It is a plain western story, with a sensual romance between Clint and Andra Martin, where they barely touch each other, but Wahleeah (Andra Martin) is very specific about " who looked at her" and "who she looked at" (guess!). The scenery, the music, and the action scenes, also help to place what would otherwise be a conventional routine western, one step higher.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The second of three western films Walker made with director Douglas during the down time of his tenure on "Cheyenne", this is the only one in color. He plays a scout and trapper who shares a tenuous relationship with the Sioux which is placed in jeopardy when Martin, an Arapaho held captive by the Sioux, decides to run away and seek sanctuary with him in his cabin. Things are complicated further by the presence of Byrnes, a greenhorn kid who has come to stay with Walker and learn how to live in the stark wilderness. Meanwhile, cavalry Major Reason wants Walker's help and resists taking no for an answer. Walker, a towering hunk who dwarfs everyone around him and sometimes even the landscape, lends a solid performance. He has one rough-and-tumble fight sequence in which he clearly performed his own stunt work. Clad in a red shirt and with a long shock of black hair, he is quite a sight to behold. In what must be one of his most alluring and sexy appearances in film, he has a nighttime sequence in which he reclines in bed, shirtless, with his hair deliberately tousled as he chitchats with young Byrnes. Byrnes enjoys an engaging role, lightly comedic, but with more serious elements than he would tend to be given elsewhere. His character displays an obvious respect for Walker (try counting how many times he says, "Mr. Kelly"!) and, like Walker, sleeps presumably in the raw despite allusions to the harsh weather! Russell plays the Sioux chief and provides dramatic weight and a dose of dignity that helps him to overcome his anachronistic hairstyle. Danton plays his nephew (with a similarly goofy, parted on the side, wig) and poses a nice threat as he obsesses over Martin. Martin, with gleaming grey-blue eyes and covered in buckets of body make-up, is unlikely as an Indian maiden, though this was the rule of the day then. She comes off as more of a Caucasian captive than a fellow Indian, so quickly does she adjust to washing plates in a bucket and keeping house! Like the two gentlemen, she also prefers to sleep in the altogether, which had to have seemed a tad daring in 1959! She undergoes a brief, but pretty harrowing, medical procedure in her first scene. However, some of her dialogue is a hoot ("You have looked at me ") Reason adds just that much more handsomeness to the film, though his role isn't anything special. He has two soldiers in his outfit who would go on to greater fame, Akins and Oates. Director Douglas liked to populate his films with good-looking men and here he had quite a bonanza, which does make viewing easier for those inclined. Additionally, he had quite an eye for location scenery and it is nicely exploited here as well. It's not a milestone film, but Walker in his prime is always worth watching and the rest of the able cast, along with the location work, helps make this a pleasure to watch.
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