Flaming Star

Flaming Star

Flaming Star is a 1960 western film starring Elvis Presley, based on the book Flaming Lance (1958) by Clair Huffaker. A dramatic role, it is said that Elvis Presley gave one of his best acting performances as the mixed-blood “Pacer Burton.” The film’s working title was Black Star. Flaming Star was directed by Don Siegel.

Elvis Presley plays Pacer Burton, the son of a Kiowa mother and a Texas rancher father. Along with his half-brother, Clint, the four of them live a typical life on the Texas frontier. Life soon becomes anything but typical when a nearby tribe of Kiowa begin raiding neighboring homesteads. Pacer soon finds himself caught between the two worlds, part of both but belonging to neither.

Pacer (Elvis Presley) and Clint (Steve Forrest) Burton arrives at their parents’ ranch in the early evening. They are welcomed with a surprise party for Clint’s birthday by their parents, Neddy (Dolores Del Rio) and Sam (John Mclntire), and some friends. Among them are Tom (L.Q.Jones) and Will (Douglas Dick) Howard and their sister Dorothy (Anne Benton). The party breaks up early because the Howards have a ten-mile ride. A Kiowa war party, led by Buffalo Horn (Rudolpho Acosta), is waiting for the Howards and everyone is killed and their ranch burned.

A posse of white men led by Dred Pierce (Karl Swenson) arrives at the Burtons’ ranch. They demand a declaration that the Burtons are on their side. They insult Neddy (who is a Kiowa), which results in a shooting incident, after which the posse shoots some of the Burton cattle and scatters the rest. The next day Sam and Clint go to catch the remaining of the cattle, and Pacer stays to guard his mother. Pacer feeds two trappers, who, while he is outside, humiliate Neddy. She hits one with a ladle, and they fly when Pacer tells them that Sam and Clint have returned.

The next morning, Buffalo Horn arrives and asks Pacer to join him. When Pacer refuses, he is told that his ranch will be the next to go. Pacer and Neddy decide to go with Buffalo Horn to the Kiowa camp to try to stop this impending disaster for everyone. Neddy is refused by the Kiowa but Pacer is accepted and allowed to return home before making his decision. He and Neddy are escorted by his boyhood friend, Two Moons (Perry Lopez) . Will Howard has survived the massacre and is wandering the countryside, obsessed with vengeance. He kills Two Moons and badly wounds Neddy. At the ranch Sam takes care of his wife. But when he leaves to water the stock, she follows some deep instinct to go into the mountains in search of her ‘Flaming star‘ of death. Sam sees her, and she dies in his arms. Pacer, Clint, Roz and the doctor arrive too late. In his grief, Pacer curses all those who delayed the doctor and decides to join the Kiowa.

Clint, decides to fight the Indians and attacks them in the middle of the night. He kills the chief, but gets badly wounded. In order to save his brother Pacer leaves the Kiowa again and ties his brother on his horse and sends him to the city. He keeps the Indians busy until he’s sure his brother is safe. Clint wakes up in bed and wants to get up to help his brother. He sees Pacer arriving in the city and wants to take care of him. But Pacer, who is still too much Kiowa knows his time has come and rides towards his flaming star.

Andy Warhol’s famous diptych of Presley as a cowboy came from a shot in this movie.

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