HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Amulet
Flag Day
Boris Karloff: The Man Behind the Monster
Nest, The
Martin Eden
Halloween Kills
Cicada
Sun Shines Bright, The
Last Thing Mary Saw, The
Comets
Herself
Mon Oncle d'Amerique
Wild Strawberries
Runner, The
Don't Look Up
Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Eternals
Forever Purge, The
Memoria
Venom: Let There Be Carnage
Legend of La Llorona, The
Japon
Glasshouse
Perdita Durango
Commando, The
Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror
Boiling Point
Malignant
Deadly Games
Ailey
Voyeurs, The
Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes
In the Earth
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hotel Poseidon
Zola
No Time to Die
Klaus
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Candyman
   
 
Newest Articles
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
The Punk Rock Movie: Out of the Blue on Blu-ray
Yeah, Too Quiet: The Great Silence on Blu-ray
Vestron Double Bill: Dementia 13 and The Wraith
Farewell Dean Stockwell: His Years of Weirdness
Kung Fu Craft: Cinematic Vengeance! on Blu-ray
999 Letsbe Avenue: Gideon's Way on Blu-ray
Hungary for Cartoons: Hungarian Animations on MUBI
You Have No Choice: Invasion of the Body Snatchers on Blu-ray
You Can't Tame What's Meant to Be Wild: The Howling on Blu-ray
Commendably Brief: Short Sharp Shocks Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Super Silents: Early Universal Vol. 2 on Blu-ray
Fable Fear: The Singing Ringing Tree on Blu-ray
Gunsight Eyes: The Sabata Trilogy on Blu-ray
Bloody Bastard Baby: The Monster/I Don't Want to Be Born on Blu-ray
Night of the Animated Dead: Director Jason Axinn Interview
The ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt - Interview with Director/Star Ian Boldsworth
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
   
 
  Flaming Star That's not alright, Mama
Year: 1960
Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Elvis Presley, Steve Forrest, Barbara Eden, Dolores Del Rio, John McIntire, Rodolfo Acosta, Karl Swenson, Ford Rainey, Richard Jaekel, Anne Benton, L.Q. Jones, Douglas Dick
Genre: WesternBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 3 votes)
Review: Pacer Burton (Elvis Presley) and his half-brother Clint (Steve Forrest) ride home to a birthday celebration with their parents and friends the Howard family and Ros Pierce (Barbara Eden). After Clint’s mother died, Sam Burton (John McIntire) married Neddy (Dolores Del Rio), a Kiowa Indian, but while the family are close-knit some locals are uneasy about Pacer’s mixed-race parentage. Tensions flare when the new Kiowa chief, Buffalo Horn (Rodolfo Acosta) goes on the warpath and slaughters the Howard clan. Pacer and his mother find themselves caught in the middle of an ugly race war that tears their family apart.

When most people dismiss Elvis Presley’s movie career they are more often considering his post-Blue Hawaii (1962) run of forgettable fluff. However, Elvis’ early films were pretty solid. Flaming Star ranks alongside King Creole (1958) as his most substantial cinematic effort and that is partly because it is the only Elvis movie actually about something: racism. Based on a novel by Clair Hunnaker, who co-scripted alongside Nunally Johnson, the film cleverly allies the rootlessness of its half-breed hero with the image fostered in the public eye of Elvis as rebellious youth incarnate which, whether accurate or not, had taken on an almost mythic grandeur.

Acting on Elvis’ own instructions, the great Don Siegel dispenses with the token musical numbers early on (although the theme song is pretty good) and gets down to the dramatic meat. He brings the same tough, uncompromising edge that he brought to his other westerns and crime pictures. The opening massacre of an entire family is genuinely nightmarish and brutal. Later on, Elvis holds a child hostage at gunpoint. Though we know there is no way he would ever hurt her, the tension remains unnerving. He does not even get the girl. Future I Dream of Jeannie star Barbara Eden (who replaced a miscast Barbara Steele!) is in love with older brother Clint, much to Pacer’s quiet despair. Pacer is torn between the racist townsfolk and the Kiowa who may tolerate him and his mother but threaten the rest of his family.

Like John Wayne in The Searchers (1956), Pacer is an outcast in both worlds but also the only character able to move between those worlds. That gives him an advantage. Unlike The Searchers, which concludes on an optimistic note embracing the idea of an intergrated America, Flaming Star is about destruction. After opening with the image of a happy family celebrating togetherness, it tracks their gradual disintegration via distrust, tragedy and death. Only after a great American icon has been served as a sacrificial lamb does the film offer any possiblity of a brighter future. Unsurprisingly, Elvis fans were unaccustomed to seeing their idol in such a downbeat movie and although all his films made money, this was not among his highest grossers. So Colonel Tom Parker (here credited as technical advisor - yeah, right) put him back on the musical comedy treadmill and the rest is history.

Brooding and charismatic, Elvis gives arguably his most anguished and affecting performance. He also got to show off his action hero credentials, whether kicking the crap out of racist scumbags who dared molest his mama or becoming a bare-chested virtual one-many army as he wipes out a succession of stuntmen. Siegel may have pushed the envelope as far as violence was concerned but also delivered a more balanced and thoughtful account of the Kiowa struggle than was the norm at this stage in Hollywood westerns. Dolores Del Rio is every bit as outstanding as Elvis imbues her role with stirring grace and dignity.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3495 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Don Siegel  (1912 - 1991)

Respected American director, a former editor, whose action thrillers were second to none. He started out in lower budget movies like The Big Steal, Riot in Cell Bock 11 and The Lineup but come the sixties he started making higher profile work such as the remake of The Killers and Madigan. His fruitful partnership with Clint Eastwood gave us Dirty Harry and Escape from Alcatraz, among others. Another of his finest 1970s films was Charley Varrick.

Siegel had small acting roles in Play Misty for Me and Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers - he had directed the classic original in the 1950s.

 
Review Comments (2)


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
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: