Flaming Star/ B, B
Fox/1960/92/ANA 2.35

    It's Elvis in another Western. Four years after making his screen debut in Love Me Tender, Elvis Presley starred in Flaming Star. It's a more substantial role and an entirely different Elvis as far as acting goes. This time out Presley plays half-breed Westerner Pacer Burton with convincing authority. He's moody, volatile, and has a strong screen presence,  with an edge of danger, elements totally missing from his earlier Western. I might add that while he does sing a couple of songs, it wasn't even necessary.  And this time out the songs are more naturally integrated.

A widescreen Western meal. ©Fox

   Flaming Star is a solid Western drama about a half-breed son in a small Texas community. He's an outsider, but it's been kept under the carpet, until the threat of a Kiowa uprising polarizes the community and Burton family. All sorts of tensions are introduced into the Western landscape and the family must deal with many feelings that need to be addressed. The unadorned  screenplay by Clair Huffaker and Nunnally Johnson is intelligent with some interesting twists and turns. Script elements are time-honored and true to the genre.   
     Directed by Don Siegel, a director who knows his way around storytelling. There are clichés to be dealt with in Flaming Star, but Siegel's action style keeps things fresh and covers any dull passages up with some ambling sagebrush and Western horse play.
    Presley gets a good co-star in Steve Forest as half-brother Clint. Forest is a stolid Western presence. John McIntire and Delores Del Rio play the Burton parents.
McIntire is excellent. This is one of the better roles I have seen the veteran actor get. Perhaps Del Rio overacts a bit, but she's an interesting Neddy Burton, the full-blood Kiowa married to Sam. But McIntire makes up for any shortcomings in Del Rio with his savvy performance. Barbara Eden is the nominal love interest for the boys. She's an attractive package and I actually wanted to see more of her.
    Flaming Star gets fair treatment on DVD from Fox. It's a good-looking picture with consisted sharp images. Transfer elements are in good condition. Aside from a few specs of dirt, the picture is clean. Color saturation is very nice. It looks like the original elements have not faded. Some of the day-for-night photography is poorly handled. Clearly, there are night time scenes that look like they are in broad daylight. One must conclude that proper adjustments could have been effected.
     I heartily recommend catching Flaming Star. It's nice to see Presley is a good film that is not simply a tepid star vehicle. One lasting impression you have after leaving Flaming Star is that Presley could have become a very strong acting presence given the right kind of screen roles.


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