Tulsa, a soldier with dreams of running his own nightclub, places a bet with his friend Dynamite that he can win the heart of an untouchable dancer...but when Dynamite is transferred, Tulsa must replace him in the bet.
Navy frogman, Ted Jackson (Elvis Presley), balances his time between twin careers as a deep sea diver and nightclub singer. During a dive, Ted spots sunken treasure and returns with hope to retrieve it.
Mike and Danny fly a crop duster, but because of Danny's gambling debts, a local sheriff seizes it. Trying to earn money, they hitch-hike to the World's Fair in Seattle. While Danny tries ... See full summary »
West Texas in the years after the Civil War is an uneasy meeting ground of two cultures, one white. The other native American. Elvis portrays Pacer Burton. The son of a white rancher (John McIntire) and his beautiful Kiowa Indian wife (Dolores DelRio). When fighting breaks out between the settlers and natives, Pacer tries to act as a peace maker, but the "flaming star of death" pulls him irrevocably into the deadly violence.
When Sam Burton is hit deadly by three Indian arrows in his back, the Indian Warrior who shot the last arrow into his victim approaches the dying man in order to take his scalp. Sam lies with the front of his body to the ground the three arrows protruding out of his back. The Indian reaches Sam, turns him around and is shot by Sam who uses his last vitality strength to kill his murderer: to achieve this goal he has to lift his right arm to fire his colt on the Indian Brave thereby revealing that the three arrows that had been sticking in his back one second before are gone! They are not broken but still sticking in his body as would be the case in real life, no, they have dissolved into nothingness. See more »
All Ma and me ever got from Whites is mean looks and don't get uppish with us.
Oh, that's not true.
You were the worst. You made me feel it the worst. When I was little I liked you a lot. You were the only girl I ever liked a whole lot. But ever since you've been old enough to know, you never looked at me once without saying something in the back of your head. "He's Kiowa. Clint's all right, but watch out for Pacer."
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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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