Flaming Star has Indians-on-the-warpath for the youngsters, Elvis Presley for the teenagers and socio-psychological ramifications for adults who prefer a mild dose of sage in their sagebrushers. The plot – half-breed hopelessly involved in war between white man and Red man [from a novel by Clair Huffaker] – is disturbingly familiar and not altogether convincing, but the film is attractively mounted and consistently diverting.
Presley plays the half-breed, pivotal character in the conflict between a group of Texas settlers and the angry Kiowa tribe. Part of a heterogeneous family (full-blooded Indian mother, white father, half brother) resented and tormented by whites, taunted and haunted by Indian ties, Presley is buffeted to and fro between enemy camps by the prevailing winds of prejudice and pride.
The role is a demanding one for Presley. But he lacks the facial and thespic sensitivity and projection so desperately required here. The standouts are the veterans, Dolores Del Rio and John McIntire. Del Rio brings dignity and delicacy to the role of Presley’s full-blooded Indian mother. McIntire adds nobility and compassion as the father of the doomed household. Steve Forrest is competent as the brother, Barbara Eden decorative as his girl.
Director Don Siegel has packed plenty of excitement into the picture, notably some realistically-staged fistfight, battle and chase passages. But there are a few equally unrealistic-looking scenes.