Flaming Star (1960) Poster

(1960)

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7/10
Exciting western with a sensational acting by Elvis Presley who barely sings.
ma-cortes31 October 2005
The film tells about Burton family formed by the father (John MacIntire), his second Indian wife (Dolores del Rio) and two sons , one (Steve Forrest) of the first wife and another (Elvis Presley) results to be a half-breed . The latter will have to choose sides when the battles between white men and Kiowas (Rodolfo Acosta) go on the warpath . Burton family splits loyalties , the confrontation will be violent and lethal .

It's an interesting western with an exceptional interpretation by Elvis Presley who only sings two songs at the beginning of the film . He's a mestizo who along with his mother will be excluded for both races . Originally planned as a vehicle for Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift ; however , the picture is considered to be Presley's best western and along with ¨King Creole¨ (directed by Michael Curtiz) and ¨Jailhouse rock¨ (by Richard Thorpe) his greatest movies . Andy Warhol's famous diptych of Elvis Presley as a cowboy came from a shot in this movie . Steve Forrest (Dana Andrews's brother) as his kind brother is very fine . Dolores del Rio as his affectionate mum and Rodolfo Acosta as Kiowa chief , repeat well their usual Indians roles . Barbara Eden as a wonderful youngster who helps protagonists is enjoyable and enticing , though Barbara Steele walked off the picture after an argument with director Don Siegel , she then was replaced by Eden . Besides , in the secondary cast appears Richard Jaeckel (Dirty dozen) , L.Q.Jones (Peckimpah's habitual) and Karl Swenson . Glittering and shimmer cinematography is perfectly reflected on spectacular outdoors and colorful interiors by cameraman Charles Clarke . Lively as well as atmospheric musical score by Cryl Mockridge . The motion picture was professionally directed by Donald Siegel (Dirty Harry) . The flick will appeal to Elvis Presley fans and Western genre enthusiasts.
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Actually..
gazzo-218 October 2000
This is definitely one of the King's best flix, his best performance surely. It was nice to see him play a taciturn guy but be believable, the surrounding cast-from LQ Jones to Jeanie there to Del Rio to John McIntire-were all pros, plus Don Seigel's record(Dirty Harry, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, etc.) speaks for itself.

Elvis, in Walter Matthau's opinion(co-starred with Elvis in 'King Creole')had some talent and could have become a decent actor if he'd stuck to things like this.

By all means, give it a look, its worth watching-Elvis gives it his best and it's a solid flick all around.

*** outta ****
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Elvis's best film.
Samoan Bob29 March 2003
Elvis stars as a half-Indian in this exciting Don Siegel-helmed Western with a ton of action and a meanstreak. Elvis's character is surprisingly tough and hard-assed, plus the songs are kept to a minimum (he sings the title song and does a little hoe-down at the beginning...that's it). Anyway, Indians are massacring farmers in an attempt to take back their land, and Elvis is torn between the Indians and the racist white folk. Elvis gives a great, understated performance...he seems aware that this is a Siegel film, not an Elvis film. All in all it's the King's best foray into filmland.
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8/10
Elvis the Actor
dubricus14 May 2005
Basically, Elvis does not sing much in this one. It is a dramatic role in which he plays a half-breed youth, raised in his father's white world, but now caught in the midst of an Indian war.

This film is a sad statement of what might have been. Here we glimpse the natural dramatic talent that was never allowed to blossom. There would be no "From Here to Eternity" for Elvis as there was for Sinatra. Contracts later forced him in to the musical-comedy roles that he grew to hate. He was told you will do these movies with this starlet or that starlet, sing this bad music with ducks or cows in the background, play the race car driver, the speed boat driver, the motorcycle racer, or you won't work at all.

The truly sad thing is that if this part of Elvis' talent had been cultivated, if his musical career had been kept separate from a dramatic acting career, perhaps his life would have traveled a very different road. It is a horrible thing to know that you have talent & to want to be able to use that talent, but be forced to waste it. IMHO, it was something that gnawed at him and played no small part in his own self-destruction.
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7/10
Even Presley had his day in the movies.
dbdumonteil21 March 2003
A lot of highbrows will dismiss that as another Elvis lousy movie.But just have a look at the name of the director:it's not Norman Taurog,it's Don "Body Snatchers" Siegel!And every Siegel movie is worth a watch at least or more with such gems as "invasion of the body snatchers" and "beguiled".

The screenplay is close to John Huston's "the unforgiven",Hepburn and here Presley are half-breed people and thus generate violence.But what seems fascinating here is Presley's part and his tragedy ,both in the movie,and in real life:the loss of his own mother.His performance is by far his most moving not only because he 's directed by a director with a genuine talent,but also because he probably searched his memories to give such a harrowing rendition.The old mom,an Indian herself ,who tries to go back to the mountain to die there is the moment which climaxes the movie.

This obsession with the mother's loss would continue in "wild in the country" ,Elvis's next movie,before he sank in an ocean of schmaltz.
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"Maybe some day, somewhere, people will understand folks like us"...
Shane Paterson30 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers...

Two years in the Army and a lightweight, family-oriented musical -- "GI Blues" -- intervened before Elvis again got to show his natural acting talent in "Flaming Star," a film originally slated for Marlon Brando. Elvis acquitted himself well in the role of Pacer Burton, half Caucasian and half Kiowa, in 1878 Texas. Pacer is a young man trapped between two cultures and races, in a situation in which either of two available choices spelled tragedy. The same is true of the other members of his family, including an older, white brother (Steve Forrest), and his parents (Dolores Del Rio and John McIntire) -- all perfect in their roles. This is really a film about hate, and just as much about love, loyalty, and family. It's also probably a more-than-oblique commentary on the state of race relations within the US at the time, during the rise of the Civil Rights movement. Apartheidmongers in South Africa banned this film because Elvis played a 'colored' person. On the other hand, Elvis was inducted into the Los Angeles Indian Tribal Council for his positive portrayal of Pacer Burton.

Elvis is thoroughly convincing as the 'half breed' Pacer and the film showcases his considerable nonverbal communication skills. He convincingly portrays a very conflicted character (the same was true to some extent of "King Creole") and runs the full gamut of emotion through the film. Pacer's basically a bit of a hothead, but he's also possessed of a fairly chilling cool, and both aspects of the character are played well by Elvis (who, himself, shared the same dichotomy). The scene in which Pacer and Clint, his 100%-white brother, scuffle is pretty intense.

Elvis could appear quite menacing and in this film he is pure menace at several instances. He'd have made a great bad guy in a movie and I really do believe that he could have acquitted himself well in Marlon Brando's role in "Apocalypse Now" had it been shot circa 1974, particularly if circumstances had conspired to have Elvis make more films like "Flaming Star" than "Clambake" during the '60s. Is this the best scripted Elvis Presley film? Well, most'd point to "King Creole," and this film is so un-Elvis that it's really NOT an 'Elvis Presley film.' It's a powerful film, with a strong and intelligent point to make that also ensures that it is not just another horse-opera, in which Elvis happens to have a key role. Also, the film does not focus exclusively on him and his co-stars are essential to the film and all turn in excellent performances. Still, I think that it's perhaps in this film that he turned in his best acting performance.

The rest of the supporting cast does a more-than-competent job, and among their number are Barbara Eden, Richard Jaeckel, and Rodolfo Acosta. Interestingly, LQ Jones -- who plays the clueless redneck who says that Mrs Burton's cooking was indistinguishable from any white mother's -- showed up again in Elvis' 1968 "Stay Away, Joe," the other movie in which Elvis played a native American (Jones later played Three-Finger Jack in "The Mask Of Zorro").

The film was directed by Don Siegel, who'd earlier been behind "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers" and who later went on to do the "Dirty Harry" films among many others. It's a pretty violent piece, especially for one shot in 1960. The Kiowa attack near the film's start is quite graphic for the time and the implied violence within and around that scene is even more disturbing. "Flaming Star" includes axes to the head, spears in the thigh, arrows in various parts of the anatomy, and fatal knife attacks, as well as shootings and assorted fisticuffs. Elvis wades into the violence with relish, particularly during his one-man war against the Kiowa warriors toward the film's end. The thrashing that he administers to two unsavory trappers is also realistic and pretty savage, beginning with a rifle butt snapped into one trapper's chin. Elvis, five months after his black-belt grading, must have loved the physicality of his role. He's in good shape for it, too.

"Flaming Star" and Fox's follow-up, the contemporary drama "Wild In The Country," basically didn't make as much money as "GI Blues." That fact determined what was pretty much the formula for most of the '60s. It's a pity, because Elvis' career path during the '60s could have taken an entirely different path: appearances in high-quality movies (including the odd musically-oriented one) and occasional , big-event concert performances at home and abroad. What might have been...

The ending never fails to sadden me immensely. As in his debut film, this film ends with the death of Elvis' character. I guess the obvious thing is that Pacer's off to die and, in a way, being a man between peoples, he's got no other place to go. It says something about Elvis' characterization of Pacer, I think, that we'd even care. The same is true of the deaths of Pacer's mother and father. More to the point, though, I always think of Elvis seeing his own Flaming Star of Death 17 years later. For that matter, 10 out of 10 people die, as do 10 out of 10 pets, and we all face our own mortality and that of our loved ones. I must admit that, figuratively, Elvis has yet to die -- as I write he's in an amazing third week at #1 on the UK singles charts, with #1 rankings in several other countries courtesy of a remixed, relatively obscure 1968 movie song. I went to high school and university with a kid (Robert Trueman, good friend of my best friend) who died, rapidly, of leukemia -- ironically enough, a few years before he'd told me that he wasn't really into Elvis but that he loved the song "Flaming Star." It's indeed a great song, but one forever touched by an additional aura of sadness the result of Robert's passing too soon.
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Elvis pulls it off
shank69 August 2003
I had never seen the entire edition of Flaming Star, but I've got to say Elvis did a pretty good job!. I caught the very beginning with the song session in the house and I thought, just another Elvis singing vehicle.

The real surprise came for me with the plot and the action sequences. Wow!. If Elvis could have chosen some better parts, I think he could have transitioned himself into a decent actor.

Too bad this type of performance is far and few between.
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8/10
Very good indeed
Bjorn (ODDBear)23 April 2004
One of Elvis's best films. Legendary film director Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dirty Harry) gets the most out of Elvis and the King proves here that when he had something of substance to work from, he was more than capable.

This film not only has a gripping and tragic storyline, it looks and feels authentic enough in dealing with an important chapter in American history. The film is packed with emotional moments and action and an all round good cast. If Elvis had gotten more film roles like this one, he could have become one of the great movie stars. 8 out of 10.
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10/10
Great Presley movie and Western
For a movie that was originally planned for Brando, Elvis sure does a good job. According to the trivia, it was planned for Sinatra too. I'm assuming Sinatra would've played Clint, while Brando played Pacer.

While some might find the movie to be too depressing, I say, it calls for it. A movie like this, with a story like this, can't have a happy ending. So if you're expecting the usual Presley picture with singing and all, look somewhere else. If you want a movie with a great script and many memorable lines and scenes, see Flaming Star. If you are a fan of Elvis, see this movie for sure. Elvis shows what a natural actor he is in this movie. He also proves that he could star in a serious movie with a serious role.

If you are looking for a movie with action, look no further. Flaming Star has plenty of action. If you just want to see a good Western, see Flaming Star. Once you start watching Flaming Star you won't be able to stop. The movie had me watching up until the powerful ending. Everyone did their job well when they made this movie. Steve Forrest was great as Clint, Pacer's brother. Dolores del Rio was great as Neddy, Pacer's mother. John McIntire was great as Sam Burton, Pacer's father. Even the other supporting actors were great. Everyone was great. The actor that portrayed Buffalo Horn, Rudolph Acosta, was very memorable. Elvis was of course, great as Pacer. When you start watching the movie, in the beginning, it seems like the movie isn't really about Pacer. But later on in the movie when he has to make a choice of whether he will fight with the white man, his father's people, or the Kiowas, his mother's people, the movie gets very interesting. Elvis is put in many situations in the movie when he has to fight for his family and for his life. Pacer becomes the film's hero once the fighting starts. The whole movie is very powerful and unforgettable, so don't miss this one. You are in for a pleasant surprise. Elvis Presley fans will be pleased. Even people that aren't really fans of Elvis will be pleased. See this great movie and you won't be disappointed.
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5/10
"Every man/Has a flaming star/A flaming star/Over his shoulder"
moonspinner553 April 2002
Half-breed Elvis Presley is caught between warring sides in the Old West circa 1870. Clair Huffaker's book, adapted by Huffaker and the esteemed Nunnally Johnson, has now become a vehicle for the leading man, and Presley the Actor never really did carve out his niche on the movie screen. He's a quiet, some may say stolid, presence, acting a great deal just with his eyes--though one aches for him to loosen up. The hot "Elvis Sings Songs From Flaming Star" album is much preferable to the movie, which cuts the musical performances down to a minimal two. The film has some action, a fine supporting cast, lots of melodrama; the critics liked it and certainly Charles G. Clarke's beautiful cinematography is worth seeing in widescreen. ** from ****
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So *sad*! So surprisingly good!
skoyles8 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
I have been humming and singing the theme song from this motion picture since I first heard it on CKLW radio in Windsor Ontario in 1960 as a dewy-eyed grade ten student. It is a superb song, evocative and obviously memorable. Somehow I never saw the movie whence it came and was never a fan of Elvis Presley motion pictures, having been turned off by previews of his other movies. So finally - after a couple of lifetimes - I bought the DVD and watched Flaming Star, the only Elvis Presley movie I have ever seen or am likely to see. First, what is wrong with Flaming Star? The incidental music is pedestrian, and the trailer (included on the DVD) makes it look like an entirely different movie. Presley is excellent; Forrest is superb; John McIntyre has never been better. In fact, the whole cast, with the possible exception of Barbara Eden, have never been better. Delores Del Rio plays Pacer's Mother with a wonderful and believable dignity. I do not know the Kiowas but I do know the Blackfoot and Ms Del Rio could well be Blackfoot lady. Let us imagine this movie without Elvis: a very well written, well-directed, racially sensitive, surprising, solid Western tragedy introduced in a counterpoint by a party with songs. If Flaming Star had starred Paul Newman or Marlon Brando it would be revered with such films as The Magnificent Seven and The Wild Bunch. I highly recommend this thinking-man's sad Western.
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Clair Huffaker's screenplay from his novel"Flaming Lance".
rsfgerry5 October 1999
Clair Huffaker was a master story teller. His westerns are still read by true western aficionados. "Flaming Star" was Elvis's opportunity to act and to prove to the world that he could. Unfortunately the Colonel didn't want the world to know. This is one of Hollywood's best kept secrets. Maybe the fact that Elvis knew that he had actual talent for acting broke his heart, and those stupid Hall Wallis "sillies" must have driven Elvis crazy! Huffaker writes a good story of an interracial family harassed by prejudice and bigotry of the small western town. It is the struggle of two brothers in love with the same woman. It shows the love of a husband to his Indian wife. This film has enduring story.
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6/10
Solemn if fairly impressive western
BJJManchester6 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
FLAMING STAR is generally regarded as the film which provided Elvis Presley the best performance of his disappointing film career.It is totally out of kilter in what you would expect from a typical Elvis "romp".With a top director (Don Siegel),a literate script and story (by western veteran Clair Huffaker) and a solid supporting cast (John McIntire,Dolores Del Rio,Steve Forrest,Barbara Eden) behind him,there is indeed a very good case for this being the King's best dramatic performance,along with his other two oft-quoted top big screen vehicles (JAILHOUSE ROCK,KING CREOLE).Elvis himself only sings two songs,over the titles and in a fairly light-hearted opening scene during a birthday party for his half-brother (Forrest) involving family and friends at his parents' ranch.

After these jollities,things quickly turn very grim;in a surprisingly graphic (for it's time) sequence,the friends aforementioned are brutally massacred by a group of Kiowa Indians;it is revealed soon after that Elvis is half-white,half Kiowa,and finds himself on the receiving end of much racist abuse from the same family and local townspeople thereafter.After seeing his parents killed,he decides he's had enough of the hostility he receives for being a half-breed,and reluctantly returns to his mother's people.But after witnessing a Kiowa attack on his brother,he again changes sides and nurses his half-sibling,guiding him by horse into town for medical treatment.But being torn between two races becomes too much for him;he rides into town one more time to bid goodbye to his brother,and rides away,dying,into the valley to see the 'flaming star',like his mother before her passing.

All this is very well done,with a convincing performance by Presley.He shows himself perfectly capable of delivering his lines persuasively and effectively,with the right kind of resonance and depth;the number of sad,terrible events that overtake his life are believably conveyed,and he more than holds his own with such reliables as McIntire and Ms Del Rio.

If there is a problem with FLAMING STAR,it is so relentlessly solemn and downbeat,with so many tragic events and often brutal killings abound.Siegel does a fine job of the direction (particularly with the action,in which he was always something of a master),but the sheer gloominess of the plot does not make for great entertainment;escapism this definitely isn't.

This was probably the reason it wasn't a particular box-office success when first released;Elvis' manager,Colonel Tom Parker (curiously credited as a consultant on the film) apparently got cold feet after FLAMING STAR,and decided to plop Elvis into the fluffy,trite,and later increasingly asinine musicals for which he became so familiar with the next film onwards,in which all virtually had the same plot.Presley himself tired of this,and stopped making films in 1970.This was a considerable shame as Elvis certainly proved he was a perfectly good movie actor in this and his two other best films (as mentioned previously); if the script,production team,supporting cast and story were up to scratch.Post-FLAMING STAR,he rarely at all got the chance to work with anything like this quality,and although the King of rock n'roll was never the King of movie acting,subjects like FLAMING STAR proved that he was by no means a peasant or commoner when decent material was at his disposal.It is something of a tragedy that the Colonel didn't present him with such after this film.

RATING:6 and a half out of 10.
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Very good plot: 7.5
Aida Nejad8 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"Sam Burton's second wife Neddy is Indian, their son Pacer a half-breed. As struggle starts between the whites and the Kiowas, the Burton family is split between loyalties. Neddy and Sam are killed; Pacer sides with the Indians, his half-brother Clint with the whites." It's a nice change to see an Elvis movie without almost any singing for once. In this movie, the focus is not on beautiful women or the soundtrack, but the focus is on Elvis' character, Pacer, who is torn between staying with the whites, or siding with the Indians. The acting is also wonderful and believable. Bottom line is, you don't have to be an Elvis fan to see this great movie.
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7/10
FLAMING STAR (Don Siegel, 1960) ***
MARIO GAUCI21 August 2007
Easily Presley’s most satisfying film overall and a first-rate if slow-moving Western in its own right which, once again, benefits from the assured guiding hand of a strong director who is an expert of tough action to boot. Curiously enough, some sources give its running-time as being 101 minutes but the DVD version I watched is only 92 minutes long!

For the record, the lead role was originally intended for either Frank Sinatra or Marlon Brando (for whom Nunnally Johnson specifically wrote the script), but against all expectations, Presley gives an excellent, brooding portrayal of a half-breed (for which he was even inducted in a Native American society!); Barbara Steele was supposed to have played the female lead but proved unsatisfactory during a screen test (the principal film-makers reportedly didn’t want her from the outset because she was taller than Elvis and also since, in their view, she couldn’t act but the Chairman of Fox was clearly rooting for her behind the scenes!) and she was eventually replaced by Barbara Eden. Frankly, I feel that Steele would have been miscast anyway in this secondary role and, thankfully, the direct result of her missing out on this film was her iconic performance in Mario Bava’s Italian horror classic BLACK Sunday (1960) and a subsequent career as the reigning “Scream Queen” of Italian Gothic horror films!

The title tune, naturally sung by Elvis himself, is very good (the “Flaming Star” being the Indian sign for impending death) and Presley was originally supposed to sing 10 songs throughout the film but, given its unusually somber tone, wiser heads prevailed and these were reduced to just two, which were then disposed of within the very first reel! Unsurprisingly perhaps, the end result of all this was that FLAMING STAR underperformed at the box office and Presley would basically never again be allowed to stray from the tried-and-true “formula” or develop his burgeoning thespian skills in dramatic pictures.

Anyway, to get to the film’s plot proper: Presley’s family comprises white folk John McIntire and Steve Forrest (Dana Andrews’ brother) and an Indian mother, movingly played by Dolores Del Rio. Rodolfo Acosta appears as the aggressive new Kiowa chief who wants Presley to join him in his fight against the white man while, on the other hand, the whites also ask Forrest to choose sides. Eventually, this leads to much confrontation (also familial) and bloodshed – culminating in Elvis’ showdown with his tribe which actually occurs offscreen, and the film’s surprisingly downbeat ending is all the more effective because of it. Incidentally, that same year saw another Western in which a family is despised by the townspeople because of their mixed blood – John Huston’s THE UNFORGIVEN, which I should be rewatching soon in honor of the 20th anniversary of its director’s passing...
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A great film and a great western
FrankiePaddo12 September 2002
A great film !! Not only Elvis's best film BUT a GREAT WESTERN and a GREAT film. Always overlooked by the general public, because Elvis is in it, this is one of the best westerns of the 1960s. Directed by legendary auteur director Don Siegel this film has the action and tension of his best films as well as dramatically beautiful landscapes.(I would kill to see this on the BIG screen). Based on a book by western writer Clair Huffaker ( War Wagon, Posse from Hell, The Last Warrior) who with the legendary Nunally Johnson ( Prisoner of Shark Island, Jesse James, Grapes of Wrath, Dirty Dozen) have written a small action western with a statement on racism. A white man with Indian wife and their two sons ( one white and one half breed) must try to avoid choosing sides during an Indian uprising. Interestingly most films about racism deal with the causes of racism however this film deals with the consequences of racism. Also many of the other films of the time, unlike this film, reduced racism down to nasty individuals rather than societal forces. There are no sides taken although the Indians come off as more noble and intelligent that the white man. (It won a number of awards when it came out from Indian groups for its depiction of Indians) The story of a family's disintegration and descent into violence by external forces beyond it's control is truly moving. There are great performances and bits of beauty in John McIntire's and Dolores Del Rio's performances. Elvis is great also as the half breed son full of anger. Only 2 songs in the film ( one over the credits and one at the start in a party scene). A Bit of trivia : other actors slated for the role at one time or another include James Dean and Marlon Brando. Also I've read somewhere that the film had an underground street cult in the late 1960s with Black Urban youths in the US ! A great film.
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8/10
Burtons Against The World
bkoganbing16 September 2012
Elvis Presley really stretched his acting talents to the limit in Flaming Star. Though the singing King is kept to a minimum, Flaming Star is one of his finest acted films. And musically the title song which Elvis sings over the opening credits is a great one for him.

The only other musical number is right at the beginning of the film where Elvis sings a country hoedown during a party. Right after that the world of Elvis's character Pacer Burton falls apart. He's the son of John McIntire and his wife Dolores Del Rio who is a Kiowa Indian. The rest of the family consists of older brother Steve Forrest. The Kiowas with their new chief Rudolfo Acosta go on the warpath and when their formerly friendly neighbors turn on them the Burtons are all alone on their Texas frontier spread.

Being of mixed race Presley feels the conflict from within. Elvis under the direction of Don Siegel gives a wonderful performance with pain registering from every pore every minute he's on screen when the Kiowa War starts.

Flaming Star is the most negative film Elvis Presley ever did in his career. It's a stinging indictment of racial prejudice, one of the best ever put on screen. Elvis rarely stretched his talents on the screen like this and Flaming Star is one of his films that's quite a bit more than a showcase for his music.
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10/10
The Best Movie with Elvis
Great-412 October 1999
Elvis plays a half breed in the movie and gives his Best acting performance of his career. He Really showed he had promise as a Actor with the role and he was very good in it. The Movie is A Classic, straight, western drama and a good film Directed by one of the Best Directors Don Siegel was one of the Best. Barbara Eden is wonderful in her role and the others Steve Forrest and Dolores Del Rio are also Very Good in their Roles.
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8/10
The most realistic Elvis film
Joe-29014 October 1999
Elvis Presley in one of his best. This is a proper movie and not a light hearted romp with lots of songs. Elvis is the great actor again fighting for his family and which rase to chose as he he is mixed between white man from his father and red indian from his mother.

This is a great movie - watch it
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7/10
Caught In The Middle
Lechuguilla23 February 2009
White settlers battling Indians is a standard Hollywood storyline. But what happens when one frontier household contains both Whites and Indians? Which side does the household identify with, and support? That's the question, provocative for its era, in this early 1960's Western from director Don Siegel.

The story's characters are mostly stereotyped, especially the Indians who lack individuality. They are the story's antagonistic force, consistent with racial bias of previous decades. Further, that they speak English instead of their native language supports their status as two-dimensional cartoon figures, hardly more than movable set pieces.

On the other hand, the film's dialogue at least provides the Indians with a motivational rationale for their hostility. At one point in the film, their chief, Buffalo Horn, tells Pacer, the half-breed: "Whose land is this? Who has lived here since the beginning of time? They (the Whites) come against us, forever cutting deeper and deeper into our land, forever pushing". That's a big improvement in dialogue from earlier Westerns.

Filmed unfortunately in Cinema Scope, the visuals have an annoying letterbox projection. But the lonesome "Texas" landscape is beautiful and, when combined with the sound of a howling wind, creates an evocative, melancholy mood. The use of camera filters is obvious in this film. And I could sometimes not tell if a scene was supposed to be day or night.

Casting and acting are acceptable. For a professional singer, Elvis gives a fine performance.

The "flaming star" title refers to a personal vision at the onset of death, as described in the title song, which is quite beautiful and haunting. But the film's nondescript score is super annoying, especially toward the end, when it overwhelms the plot action.

The film has a Hollywood look and feel that screams: studio production. Yet, the story of a family caught in the middle of racial conflict, with attendant thematic implications, and the script's intelligent dialogue deserve respect from viewers. Further, some of the visuals are captivating. And my overall assessment of this film is mildly positive.
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8/10
If Elvis had a best movie, this is it.
boomerchinde10 July 2007
Line Elvis Presley up with a good script, great direction, and a plausible plot and you get "Flaming Star". Although the film could've done without his singing, at least it comes across as a natural part of the birthday party sequence and isn't overwhelming and stupid. Don Siegel, of Clint Eastwood fame, was always a good director, and much underrated. He holds this film together well, with Elvis as a half white, half Kiowa young man who must decide where his allegiance lies when the Indians have finally had enough of the whites. Addresses well the issues of prejudice in an era when that was mostly taboo. A couple of chilling moments, and a gritty performance by the always competent John McIntyre as Elvis' father. Barbara Eden is subdued as the love interest, and Delores Del Rio is simply wonderful as his long suffering mother. The skirmishes are well handled, and the ending is not trite, but realistic. Many claim Elvis did better work in his earlier films, but I disagree, this is his best effort, and a solid one at that. Tune in just to watch Elvis handle the two baddies who try to take advantage of his mother -- you NEVER mess with Elvis' mother!
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9/10
Fantastic Western - in my Top 20
MarcChrys2 August 2006
If I were to compile a Top 20 of Westerns, then Flaming Star would be in it - along side classics such as Shane, High Noon, Yellow sky, The Proud Ones, Man without a Star. Flaming Star is a great western in its own right - no need to classify it as an Elvis Western. In fact, after watching this film one feels saddened that Elvis didn't get given more scripts of this quality. Flaming star has an interesting story line about a mixed-blood son of the family having to choose between his 'white' and 'Indian' families when conflict erupts. The action scenes are very exciting. The compulsory Elvis song adds rather than detracts from the rest of the film. Given the conflict in the modern world, the film has many resonances for situations where misunderstandings and greed lead to implacable violence and tragedy. Elvis is superb in the main role. I have seen it several times and always end up with tears streaming down my face! Recommended.
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10/10
A classic!
kenandraf18 October 2000
This is one of the best western movies ever!Right up there with The Cowboys(John Wayne),They Died With Their Boots On(Errol Flynn),Fort Apache(Wayne and Henry Fonda),Unforgiven(Clint Eastwood),and Jerimiah Johnson(Robert Redford).This movie entertains and has a great story,and Elvis once again proves he is THE KING by acting with the best of them when given the green light to.Regarding Elvis and why he did not have more acting green lights,this is due to his having to compromise between two very demanding industries-music and holywood.To be a true KING,one must learn to compromise and during Elvis's situation,he had to.If he was to be a true holywood actor,the political trappings of holywood would demand for him to forget a lot of his recording industry trappings and commitments.It all has to do with political wrangling and time.Elvis already had the recording industry in his pocket due to his investing a lot of time and effort to do so with the help of Colonel Parker.At that time(and even today),to be able to get great scripts,producers and directors and proper promotion attention in holywood needs a lot of polital wranggling and commitments.He looked at the whole situation very hard and found that it may be possible for him to conquer the holywood industry as well(politically),but to do so would take away most of his private fun time.He tried to conquer holywood at first through sheer talent and fan base power and holywood conceeded with him at first,thus came about those great roles and movies he got in the start of his movie carreer.Movies and roles like King Creole,Jailhouse Rock,Flaming Star,and even those early loose and fun roles done before 1964.Movie producers in 1964 decided to give up a bit on Elvis's acting talent.They decided that since Elvis will not give them 100 percent commitment due to his love for the music industry and love for leisure time,they gave him B and sometimes even C movie vehicles that do not require super acting but had a formula for making money.Quick to make movies that entertain and center on Elvis's fun nature and super looks.That was the compromise.And Elvis hated that but accepted that fact as well that despite his super human abilities,one thing he had a tough time beating was TIME.He even tried to beat that by keeping himself awake all day and night through pills!This movie situation started with the movie Fun In Acapulco and deteriorated fast with Kissing Cousins and others.We must consider ourselves lucky that there was a time when it all came together for a few years between Elvis and holywood and we have movies like this one.Flaming Star must be cherished for it's eternal rarity and preciousness......
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7/10
Very watchable western
Boyo-218 June 2001
Warning: Spoilers
I should admit first that the only reason I watched this is because of Elvis. But this is not typical, by-the-numbers Elvis product, this is an actual movie that he happens to be in. Next to "King Creole", this is easily his best performance.

He sings one song over the opening credits and another three minutes later at a birthday party for his brother (Steve Forrest) and then you don't see the guitar the rest of the way.

Story is about a family that has mixed blood. Mom (Dolores Del Rio, in a very dramatic role) has married the white man, and that has rendered them all suspect as far as where their loyalties lay, due to an upcoming 'war' between Indians and white men. The Indians try to appeal to Pacer (Elvis) but he does not agree with their murderous ways. The white man try to appeal to Steve Forrest and Dad but they are just as bad as the Indians, if not worse. The family must stick together no matter what.

**SPOILER ALERT**

After Mom gets killed by the white man, Pacer has decided to go full-out Indian and is seeking revenge. Then Dad get killed by the Indians and both surviving brothers must decide what to do.

The movie is very interesting. Del Rio is needlessly dramatic at times but her death scene is well done. She certainly was a resourseful squaw; how many other women on the plains were able to get false eyelashes?

Barbara Eden is seen briefly, ditto Richard Jaeckel and B-movie icon L.Q. Jones.
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8/10
Sobering and visceral entertainment.
Scott LeBrun20 November 2016
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.
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