Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Bink, Aug 22, 2021.
That was just laying the groundwork for the still-unreleased sequel, Clambake - Cajun Style, where Elvis once again uses an alter ego as he becomes a super spy agent fighting a communist infiltration deep in the bayou. Think Gator meets Live And Let Die meets Dr. Strangelove.
I just won an auction on Ebay for the dvd boxset '14 Film Collection' which will definitely help me with some of the later movies.
I say I won the auction - I was the only bidder, to be fair!!
I work with a young man who is profoundly disabled and we have spent the last 18 months essentially quarantined all day at his place to avoid Covid. We have watched a whole lot of movies during this time. He has all the Elvis movies except the live performance ones (and unfortunately Loving You) and we've probably watched each of them at least three times.
It saddens me to watch the transformation from young Elvis sliding down piles, jumping off chairs and showing great intensity as an actor to later Elvis standing there shuffling his feet, snapping his fingers and looking bored to tears.
The scene where Scott legally changed his name was left on the cutting-room floor.
Year of release: 1960
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Director: Don Siegel
Set on the Texas frontier, Elvis plays Pacer Burton, the son of a Kiowa mother and a white Texas ranger father. When fighting breeks out between the Kiowa people and their white neighbours, Pacer finds himself pulled into the violence.
Flaming Star (theme tune)
A Cane and a High Starched Collar
We must also mention an incredible score by Cyril J Mockridge.
Flaming Star was released only one month after GI Blues, which is a bizarre marketing move - it couldn’t have helped ticket sales (especially as it was released in December on top of it).
I literally watched my Blu-ray of this last night in anticipation of this thread. IMO this is in the running as the best acting performance by Elvis. He’s very believable as Pacer. For its era the film also struck me as being quite violent. Likewise, there is zero romance in this film - surprising as one would think with Barbara Eden in the film that they would have re-written it to work a romantic angle in. Glad they didn’t as the film is stronger for it.
All that said, I think overall it’s a ho-hum western. And the use of day-for-night shooting gets annoying as it’s significantly overused and therefore distracting. I wonder why Siegel took this approach, perhaps budgetary reasons?
Also, when watching the in-film song performance of A Cane and a High Starched Collar I noticed something odd with Elvis’ voice - it almost sounds double-tracked, but it’s ‘off’. Guessing he was singing live when filming and they also synced up the ‘movie version’ of the song but they didn’t match exactly? Anyone else notice this?
And that family REALLY seems to like that song! Not only do they sing and dance like crazy to it but a few are still singing it hours later (probably to their regret, seeing as what comes soon after).
Most films ran for 2 weeks tops. Probably made for an Elvis double feature.
I’m not aware of it being distributed as a double-bill, at least upon its initial run. Plus it would be over-saturation - I’d expect ticket sales were lost as to people saying one Elvis film in a month is enough (as odd as that seems to us Elvis regulars on this Forum!).
I think Shawn is spot-on in his review of both the film and Elvis's acting performance, which really it quite good in this western. I like the quote in Wikipedia from director Quinton Tarantino:
Quentin Tarantino later called the film "a truly great fifties western, and maybe the most brutally violent American western of its era.
The movie was a brave choice for Elvis and Parker as it is one of the very few that was not centered around the soundtrack for the film. According to Wikipedia, Frank Sinatra and Marlon Brando were actually the first choices to play the brothers in the original film. The real problem with the film is its a bit of a Debbie Downer and it does not merit repeated viewing on this basis alone for me personally. Nevertheless, it teams Elvis up with a very fine director, Don Siegel, who would eventually be known better for his long relationship on Clint Eastwood films, (Dirty Harry, Coogan's Bluff and Escaper From Alcatraz), so it's definitely worth checking out once or twice. Again, Elvis demonstrates that he had the natural ability to be a fine actor when teamed with a talented director and decent script. Elvis is going to demonstrate this potential in several other films that are coming just around the corner as well. I would give the movie a solid B rating overall and probably place it in his top ten movies of all time, just based on this acting performance alone.
I think that FS is Elvis' best performance as an actor. The movie itself is great with good supporting cast and nice locations.
I remember watching it on tv in the early 80s: there was a lot of promotion the days before and the film was labeled in the tv guides as the King's best role. Good times.
6. GI Blues
5. Love me tender
4. Loving you
3. King creole
2. Jailhouse Rock
1. Flaming star
I had watched Flaming Star a few times previously, but I had not seen it for quite a few years before watching it this evening. These were some of the things that occurred to me as I watched it:
- As others have said, this is an incredible acting performance from Elvis.
- While we talk about this as an Elvis film and praise his performance, can you imagine the uproar that would be caused these days if a white actor was cast in the role of a mixed race character, particularly where race is a central part of the story?
It's interesting how the film is front loaded with 'Elvis the musician' - ie the theme tune and the song he performs with the family before this falls away and his music plays no further part.
I was reminded while watching this again that the film scared me as a child - I remember being scared that I would see the 'flaming star of death' and that this would mean I was going to die!!
Original title track: "Black Star"
Doesn't fit the metre as well as Flaming Star (or is that just my familiarity with the song?), but I'm very happy to have a copy of both!
This track came back into the spotlight again in 2016 when many people thought it might be the inspiration for the title track of Blackstar, the last album by David Bowie, who incidentally shared his birthday with Elvis.
On that note, Elvis reportedly had at least some Cherokee heritage (on his mother’s side). Also of note is the below picture from Dec. 21, 1960 showing Elvis being inducted in to the Los Angeles Indian Tribal Council due to their appreciation of Elvis’ portrayal of a Native American in Flaming Star. Of course, those were different times so your point still stands.
I forgot to mention earlier that Barbara Steele was originally cast to be the Barbara Eden character but - depending on which account you believe - she either quit or was let go from the production.
Sure were. A couple of those other "Indians" look a lot whiter than Elvis!
(speaking as a rather pale Polynesian)
Remember that "The Indian Nations" came from vastly different parts of a very large continent. And mixing has occurred over the generations.
Certainly identity is a nuanced and complicated thing, at least from what I've learned working with First Nations and Métis communities in Canada, and having kinship and community ties are pretty central to being able to claim an Indigenous identity. Lots of complicated history and present day goings on that shape it too! But definitely agree that if this movie was cast today the role should go to an Indigenous actor - though like folks are saying this film is a product of its time for sure and seems to me that the best we can do is have these convos so we can appreciate the good and the bad
Also Warhol's "Triple Elvis", "Double Elvis" (1963), etc. are all based on publicity stills from the movie "Flaming Star".
Agh! I've never watched Flaming Star but have wanted to for years. I think I've actually downloaded it but haven't got around to watching it yet. It does look like a bit of a snoozer (I'm not into westerns at the best of times), but I'll give it a try soon!
Like G.I. Blues, this is another one where Elvis looks really fit and good. (This would go out the window in 1961, when he starts looking a bit flabby and soft again.) Maybe for this reason, and because he has that dark-hair* and lithe look, he does physically kind of pull off being a "half breed". At least in the clips and photos I've seen, he seems quite believable physically, though, as we all note, nobody would cast him in such a role (probably correctly) today.
The unfortunate legacy of this film, of course, is that it basically flopped, leading the Colonel to conclude: "Hm, dramatic film with no romance and almost no songs = fail. Henceforth, girls and songs!" Thus he put paid to Elvis's dream of being a dramatic actor.
It's nice to hear strong reviews of Elvis's performance here. I'll judge for myself later. Peter Guralnick is one who has often stated/written that Elvis's performances after the 1950s' films are suddenly weak and that he's no longer invested in acting, but I have to disagree with Guralnick on this point. (I actually think 1961's Follow that Dream might be his best performance, along with JailHouse Rock and maybe King Creole.)
* Elvis, as we all know, was naturally more of a 'dirty-blond':
As much as I respect Peter Guranick for his two volume biography on Elvis, this won't be the first time I disagree with his analysis on Elvis's movie career or even his music, Lol. I am with you all the way about the subtle, but truly brilliance performance of Elvis in Follow That Dream. I normally would not use that adjective when describing Elvis's ability as an actor, but how else do you describe his talent to nail both the humor and underestimated intelligence of his character Toby in this film. I know we will get to this film shortly, but I always credit my good Elvis buddy @SKATTERBRANE for reminding what a great job Elvis does in this performance.
I was just looking at the chronology of Elvis's first ten films and I realized that I basically liked all of them, which somewhat surprised me. The quality will go down quite a bit as the musical formula is repeated way too often, although the will be an interesting uptick in quality with a few of the later films (Charro, Change Of Habit,) when the musical formula was put aside and yielded much stronger results.
Obviously there aren't many songs that we can post from Flaming Star aside from this one musical performance:
I know that it fits the western theme, but this song is pretty awful, as were most of the country songs on Love Me Tender - fortunately 'Flaming Star' is a great song!
Personally I have lived with Love Me Tender's songs for a long time and have learned to like them, but that song from Flaming Star......yeah, I will say it plays a part in the film but is not a song that I would put on my playlist of top Elvis songs!!
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