ELVIS REALLY ACTS IN ‘FLAMING STAR’Here’s some advice for all the smug cynics who claim that Elvis Presley cant’ act – go and see “Flaming Star” at London’s Rialto cinema. You’ll thoroughly enjoy this well-made, unpretentious Western – and Elvis’ assured acting will make you eat your words!
This is Presley’s sixth film – and easily his best. It gives him an opportunity to really act and he comes through with flying colours. The story is interesting enough to make you forget that he is a world-famous pop star, and forces you to accept him as an actor doing a very worthwhile job.
Elvis’ role is undoubtedly his most demanding to date and he brings life and conviction to the part of Pacer, a half-breed Indian. His acting reflects greater depth and understanding than ever before, and his disciplined, confident performance is most impressive.
The main difference between “Flaming Star” and other Presley films is that in this instance, his singing is cut to a bare minimum. There are only two songs – “Flaming Star,” a medium-paced affair sung over the opening credits, and “Cane And A High Starched Collar,” a square dance-flavoured opus performed during a short part sequence.
It struck me that both were thrown into the film simply to please the pop fans.
They don’t fit into the story in anyway, but they certainly don’t hinder it. Both songs, in fact, come in the first five minutes of the movie – and after that the story really gets underway.
“Flaming Star” is really more than a good old-fashioned cowboys and Indians adventure yarn. When fighting breaks out between the whites and the Indians, Presley - because of his mixed parentage – finds himself unable to take sides and lands up in some ugly situations.
There’s quite a lot of feudin’ and fightin’ to keep the plot moving, and some of the fight sequences are rather more brutal than expected. In addition to a fist fight, Elvis also gets involved in a knife battle – extremely well done, but not the sort of thing that’s going to stop you biting your nails!
Aside of Presley’s noteworthy performance, there’s also a fine portrayal of his step-brother, Clint, by Steve Forrest, plus some convincing work by John McIntire (as their father). In short, this is a good enjoyable film – the sort of picture that is going to make people say: Elvis can act!
Keith Goodwin, New Musical Express 1961