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4.0 out of 5 stars Film Review Only., 12 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Yellowstone Kelly [DVD] [1959] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD-R)
"I'll tell you what happened. It either got sick, ran away or died. It's the same way with an Indian. You go trying to tame them, make them live white... it just won't work."

Yellowstone Kelly is directed by Gordon Douglas and adapted to screenplay by Burt Kennedy from the Clay Fisher (AKA: Heck Allen) book of the same name. It stars Clint Walker, Edd Byrnes, John Russell, Ray Danton, Claude Akins, Andra Martin and Rhodes Reason. A Technicolor production filmed out of Sedona and Coconino National Forest in Arizona, with music by Howard Jackson and cinematography by Carl Guthrie.

"The West was opened by courageous trail-blazing pioneers like Lewis and Clark and Luther "Yellowstone" Kelly - - trapper, surveyor, and Indian scout who was the first frontiersman to cross the mighty Yellowstone Valley."

A very well made Western, one that features some quite breath taking scenery captured by Carl Guthrie (Fort Massacre/Gunfight At Dodge City), Yellowstone Kelly falls into the category of straight conventional Oaters.

Story concerns fabled fur trapper Luther Kelly (Walker), who having saved the life of a Sioux chief (Russell) is allowed to move freely in the Sioux territories. However, he finds himself piggy in the middle when the oafish US Cavalry move in to shake their might at the Native Americans. Things are further complicated when he is forced to save the life of an Arapaho woman (Martin), who subsequently runs away from the Sioux's to seek shelter with Kelly and his newly acquired companion, greenhorn Anse Harper (Byrnes). With potential love in the air putting another problem into the equation, Kelly has much to carry on his mightily broad shoulders.

Originally slated to be a John Ford/John Wayne production (they decided to make The Horse Soldiers instead), Yellowstone Kelly is pretty much what it appears to be, that of a vehicle built around Walker as a device to push him forward as a lead actor. Unfortunately, in spite of his massive screen presence, Walker just didn't have the acting chops to be a grade "A" lead off man in film. Yet he was always watchable and engaging, such is the case here. The character of Kelly is interesting and around Walker are a number of TV stars and contract players to ensure there's a professional polish to the production.

There's no surprises in store or deep psychological stirrings, though one extended sequence of Walker and Byrnes shacked up in a log cabin is open to homo-erotic interpretation, and the host of white actors playing Native Americans will irritate some, but this moves along at a good clip and makes for a fun afternoon viewing experience. 6.5/10
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Location: Birmingham, England.

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