HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Beguiled, The
Year of the Comet
Levelling, The
Dog Days
Annabelle Creation
Once Upon a Time in Shanghai
Sssssss
Woman in Question, The
Atomic Blonde
Doulos, Le
Okja
Bob le Flambeur
Wedding in White
Léon Morin, Priest
Napping Princess, The
Scorpions and Miniskirts
Berlin File, The
Beaches of Agnès, The
Blue Jeans
Garokawa - Restore the World
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Gleaners & I, The
Peter of Placid Forest
Golden Bird, The
War for the Planet of the Apes
One Sings, the Other Doesn't
Great Gilly Hopkins, The
Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon
Doom
Cléo from 5 to 7
   
 
Newest Articles
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
The Melville Mood: His Final Two Films on The Melville Collection Blu-ray
Always Agnès: 3 from The Varda Collection Blu-ray
Re: Possession of Vehicles - Killer Cars, Trucks and a Vampire Motorcycle
The Whicker Kicker: Whicker's World Vols 5&6 on DVD
The Empress, the Mermaid and the Princess Bride: Three 80s Fantasy Movies
Witching Hour: Hammer House of Horror on Blu-ray
Two Sides of Sellers: The Party vs The Optimists
Norse Code: The Vikings vs The Long Ships
Over the Moon - Space: 1999 The Complete Series on Blu-ray Part 2
   
 
  Indian Fighter, The How virility won the WestBuy this film here.
Year: 1955
Director: André De Toth
Stars: Kirk Douglas, Elsa Martinelli, Walter Matthau, Diana Douglas, Walter Abel, Lon Chaney Jr, Eduard Franz, Alan Hale Jr, Elisha Cook Jr, Ray Teal, Frank Cady, Michael Winkelman, William Phipps, Harry Landers, Hank Worden
Genre: Western
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Johnny Hawks (Kirk Douglas) was once an Indian fighter but having returned from the Civil War now hopes to negotiate a peace settlement with the tribe led by his old acquaintance, Red Cloud (Eduard Franz). He soon finds himself attracted to the chief’s beautiful daughter, Onahti (Elsa Martinelli) but their courtship is cut short when a tribesman is murdered by unscrupulous traders out to get their hands on Indian gold. To avoid widespread bloodshed Johnny is forced to fight for the life of the odious Wes Todd (Walter Matthau) whom he returns safely to the nearest fort. Johnny is then tasked with guiding a wagon train load of settlers bound for Oregon but his efforts to maintain a lasting peace are soon put to the test.

In spite of its title, The Indian Fighter falls in line with the more sympathetic portrayals of Native American culture that rose in the wake of the groundbreaking western Broken Arrow (1950). Our rugged hero Johnny Hawks has a foot in both camps, devoted to safeguarding those pioneer families venturing out west though his personal philosophy aligns more towards the Indian way of life. As a consequence he endures hostility from both sides. Adapted from a short story by Robert L. Richards, who also wrote Winchester ’73 (1950) and switched careers to become a carpenter after being blacklisted as a suspected communist, the film does not shy away from depicting the violence and suspicion prevalent among both races but does spotlight greed, racism and criminality among white traders as the spark that ignites the resulting conflict.

Underrated director André De Toth emphasizes the Native Americans ties to a natural landscape he depicts in an uncommonly idyllic and eroticized fashion. Throughout the film there is the reoccurring image of athletic Kirk Douglas cavorting in the water with Elsa Martinelli’s sensual Indian princess. The implication is that the fruit of their union will flow through the river to sustain a landscape that from Red Cloud’s perspective seems to be dying yet is actually undergoing a metamorphosis. America born anew. This ties into the other prevalent theme which is the vanishing West crystalized through the character of the photographer Briggs (Elisha Cook Jr.) who has made it his mission to document the fast-changing landscape. There is nicely scripted exchange between Briggs and Johnny who laments that his evocative pictures will draw thousands of pioneers who will civilise and effectively spoil his beloved, untamed West.

Scripted by reliable writers Frank Davis and Ben Hecht the film races along as a model of tight, punchy yet eloquent storytelling. As a sagebrush saga the film outranks the self-important tone of Douglas’ later The Way West (1967) and details the hardship and perseverance of America’s pioneer families with authenticity, grit and humanity. De Toth’s fluid direction puts the viewer right in the heart of the action with some visceral set-pieces (e.g. the climactic siege on the fort) though unlike some of his other westerns, The Indian Fighter counterbalances its hard edges with humour and charm. Especially engaging is Johnny’s relationship with widow Susan (Diana Douglas, Kirk’s real-life spouse at the time) that teeters on the edge of romance though she ends up serving more to reaffirm his moral fibre. Susan embodies the stable life Johnny admires but cannot see himself adopting. She is well drawn character, strong and plain-spoken as she pursues Johnny in an aggressive manner that leaves him amusingly flustered.

Among the other supporting players, Walter Matthau is splendidly oily in one of the many villainous roles that were his stock in trade at the early part of his career while Lon Chaney Jr. relishes one of his better roles from this period as the blustering brute Chivington. Powered by a commandingly virile and athletic performance from Kirk Douglas as the epitome of bare-chested heroism, the film is exciting but intelligent with a fine score by Franz Waxman and stunning cinematography by Wilfred M. Cline that envisions the west as warm, inviting, almost mystical environment.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 928 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Robin Askwith
Mark Wahlberg
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
Keith Rockmael
Paul Shrimpton
Ian Phillips
Jensen Breck
   

 

Last Updated: