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4.4 out of 5 stars
31
4.4 out of 5 stars
The Indian Fighter [DVD]
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£5.43+ £1.26 shipping


TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 January 2012
We are at the end of the US civil war, Johnny Hawks, a renowned Indian fighter, is at peace with the Sioux and wants to rebuild his life, even romance with the chiefs daughter is in the offering. But as the peace between the US and the Indians is being brokered, two greed driven Whiskey traders usurp everything due to their greed for Indian gold up in the hills. So just as Hawks leads a wagon train through Sioux territory on the way to Oregon, war has again been declared, with Hawks coming under suspicion of favouring the Indians.

Directed by André De Toth and starring Kirk Douglas {Hawks}, Walter Matthau, Lon Chaney Jr, Elisha Cook Jr and the outrageously beautiful Elsa Martinelli, The Indian Fighter, if I may be so bold? Is vastly undervalued on certain internet sites! Just about breaking the mold of its B movie feel, it's a piece that with a little bit of intelligence from the casting department, could have been a far better picture. The American cast do fine, but in amongst this splendidly shot picture (and it is), we have to suffer none Indian actors playing excellently written Sioux Indian characters. It's such a shame because here it's a delight to see the Sioux portrayed as a complex and resourceful race, not just in dialogue exchanges, but in a quite exhilarating attack on a US Fort, the use of horses for a disguise operation, and the method of attack {hello, it's a wooden Fort} shows them to have a bit more about them than the cannon fodder they were often portrayed as in many lower grade Westerns.

It's still one fine entertaining film tho!

Kirk Douglas leads the way with a typically ebullient genre show that he was especially good at, a different kind of hero is given just about the right amount of credibility from Douglas, who is in turn backed up by Chaney and Matthau who appear to be revelling in playing slimy characters. André De Toth is a director who has a couple of bona fide classics on his CV, not a name that is mentioned often, but his construction of a story and his excellent staging of the action on offer here, ensures that I personally will be seeking out more of his efforts. Last but by no means least, one has to mention the delightful work from cinematographer Wilfred M. Cline, who gleams the best from the Bend, Oregon location shoot, to round out The Indian Fighter as one hugely enjoyable genre piece. 7/10
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on 12 October 2013
I had visions of something spectacular from what I had read about this film, but disappointingly it was the usual run of the mill stuff, and a film I was wanting to end from the first few minutes...Not the usual Kirk !!
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on 7 February 2015
'Five Stars for Nostalgia'
This is old-school Western-Action starring screen legends 'Kirk Douglas' 'Walter Mattau' and 'Lon Chaney'
'Johnny Hawks' (Kirk Douglas) who had made his name as an Indian-Fighter has been away fighting in the
Civil-War, returning to his home territory he find much tension between the Indians and White Settlers, 'Johnny'
and 'Sioux' Chief 'Red Cloud' (Eduard Franz) have a measure of mutual respect, he persuades the Chief to
meet at the fort to sign a treaty.
However Frontiersmen 'Wes Todd' (Walter Matteu) and 'Chivington' (Lon Chaney) are determined to find the secret
location of the gold the Indians know of, when the Indians come to trade with the travellers on the Wagon-Train the
to extract the information from 'Crazy Bear' (Hank Worden) by plying him with whisky,when 'Grey Wolf' (Harry Landers)
stumbles across their attempt to get information, the two frontiersmen kill the Chiefs brother.
The wagon-train and the Fort are now in danger as the wronged Sioux try to exact revenge.....
Can 'Johnny' who has an eye for the Chiefs daughter' 'Onahti' (Elsa Martinelli) keep the peace, he'll have to bring 'Wes'
and 'Chivington' to accountability at the hands of the Sioux to have any chance.
This is stuff of memories for many, U.S Calvary, Indians. and a love story all rolled into one, the film has battle and fight
sequences, typical of the westerns of the 50's era.
Footnote -
These were the days when western action such as this 1956 offering captured the imagination of young film-goers...along
with the chance to see the screen-heroes of the day, of which there were truly many.
The film has been modified to be a 16.9 format presentation.
The picture quality is really very good for a DVD release of a movie from the 50's
Languages available - English - French - German - Italian - Spanish
Sub Titles - French - Italian - Spanish - Dutch - Swedish - Finnish - Danish
Hard of Hearing - English - German
The Disc Includes - Interactive Menu Screens - Chapter Selection
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on 15 February 2006
At the heart of De Toth's oeuvre lies an interesting contradiction. He has an abiding interest in suspense, action, and the wellspring of violent events (a fact underlined by the number of thrillers, frontier yarns and dramas he helmed during his career), but, as a director, characteristically disassociates himself from their process. This 'distancing' effect has been noted by a number of viewers, creating some critical debate about De Toth's engagement with his material. In my view his detachment is not to be confused with aloofness - an interesting comparison can be made with Stanley Kubrick's alleged 'coldness' - but is rather De Toth's way of resolving what really 'matters'. It is this intelligence, revealing itself sharply in his best films, that makes him such a worthwhile study.
Along with De Toth's assured debut 'Ramrod' (1947) and the austere 'Day of the Outlaw' (1959), 'The Indian Fighter' is probably the finest of his Western films, revealing a characteristic response to the demands of the genre. In 'Ramrod' the moral questing springs from a noirish plot that is unsettled and full of tension. In 'Day of the Outlaw' issues are resolved more formally, played out against the stark landscape of Winter. In 'The Indian Fighter', De Toth's concerns manifest themselves in his most lyrical and sensuous work. He thereby creates a film which, in emphasis, is in direct contrast to most other 50's Westerns.
This is ostensibly a tale of a famous frontiersman Johnny Hawks (played with usual lusty gusto by Kirk Douglas), back from the wars. Ultimately he has to redeem his reputation, discovering balance within the indigenous people he has previously warred against. Gold has been discovered on Indian land, and the bad guys (a marvellous performance by Walter Matthau, ably supported by Lon Chaney, Jnr) are out to kill and cheat to secure the riches. This, and the related fear of a tribal uprising, provide the main action point of the film.
As the Indian fighter of the title, ironically the first thing we notice about Hawks is his reticence. In fact he hardly fights at all - only when he is obliged, or when called upon to at the climax of the film. For him, combat is not a prerequisite, although he is not slow to react when needs be. A comparison with the bitterness of Ethan Edwards, say, in Ford's 'The Searchers' is revealing. Edwards loathes the Commanches, with a bitterness entirely absence from De Toth's hero. As Hawks' opponents observe, he is more of an Indian lover than fighter. And, of course, in the most obvious way, they are right. Almost more important to the hero than his professional reputation is his preoccupation with the Indian maid Onhati. His single-minded pursuit, and later dalliance, with her initiates the main crisis of the film, as he leaves the wagon train to be by her side, after taking it 'two days out of my way and half way up a mountain'.
This is a film full of sensuality, placed in contrast to 'duty', the calling of action. We are constantly reminded of the cool pools, green foliage, closeness of the earth, just as much as of the teachery and turmoil of the frontier. Franz Waxman's score is lyrical and evocative, frequently idyllic. The glorious cinematography gives nature's perpetual garden a pantheistic gloss, sometimes intense, and always resplendent. Just as the main film captures these images, so in mimicry does Briggs, a supposed protégé of civil war photographer Matthew Brady, who frequently accompanies Hawks. He is eager to capture the grandeur around him. His camera is as significant to us as it is to Hawks, who makes a point of rescuing it at one point (during the battle at the fort). An important minor character, Briggs emphasises the appreciation of the sublime and beautiful that the film invites. A couple of times De Toth pauses the action (once at the fort and then at the wagon train), to pan his camera for long seconds along sets and people, recording their place in the Oregon landscape. Like Briggs he wants to admire, and record.
A circular film, 'The Indian Fighter' begins with Hawks gazing at Onhati bathing naked in a pool. It ends with him joining her in the water, forming a happy couple. The whole world of action is thus enclosed by their bonding, their sensual preoccupation usurping the violent demands of Indian-white conflict.
The scenes between the two lovers caused a murmur at the time. Considered 'risque' for the conservative 50's Western, De Toth simply inserted them, and their sexual self-absorption, as entirely fitting his plan of things. What is more eyebrow-raising today is how he allowed the encounters between two lovers to backstage the expected intrigues of masculine action, and actually assume greater significance, reversing regular audience expectations. This stress, an essentially feminine one. is completely uncharacteristic of the Western at this time. Add to that a sympathetic view of Indians and nature conservation (the Indian Chief's environmental concerns are a main reason for his refusing to exploit the land with mining) and you have an excellent film - a career highlight of this greatly underrated director.
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VINE VOICEon 15 July 2004
Kirk Douglas is "The Indian Fighter" Johnny Hawks, who returns to the West after the end of the Civil War to lead a wagon train bound for Oregon. Along the way there is the threat of an Indian war stirred up by bad guys Wes Todd (Walter Matthau) and Chivington (Lon Chaney), a couple of whiskey traders who are after gold on Indian land. The Indians in question are led by Red Cloud (Eduard Franz), the Sioux chief who tried to keep the white man from taking over his people's land. Johnny is smitten with Onahti (Elsa Martinelli), the chief's daughter, who distracts him enough from his job to put the wagon train and the local military outpost at risk when Red Cloud's brother is killed.
This 1955 western was filmed on location in Oregon by director André De Toth and the beautiful scenery along with composer Franz Waxman's evocative helps elevate "The Indian Fighter" to above average status. Given the time and genre, some of the scenes between Hawks and Onahti are quite risqué. In the end this is more of a Western romance than a Western action film, and with its inherent sympathy towards both the Indians and the environment, De Toth has made an extremely atypical Western. Elisha Cook has a nice supporting role as Briggs, a character who learned photography from Matthew Brady during the Civil War and has come out West to capture the grandeur of the landscape, and there are several moments when De Toth's has the camera provide the sort of beautiful panoramic shots that Briggs would aspire to take. Not a great Western but there is a lot here that warrants fans of the genre taking a long look.
Trivia Note: Diana Douglas, the wife of Kirk and mother of Michael Douglas at that point in hsitory, plays settler Susan Rogers, who has her eye on Hawks but ends up with hardy Will Crabtree (Alan Hale, Jr.). I remember the actress from playing Professor Tyler on "The Paper Chase." This was the only film the two appeared in together and certain an interesting choice given they each have different love interests.
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on 6 February 2014
Caught some of this film on TV one afternoon, I was that impressed by all the action in the bit I saw,
I decided to get my own copy to watch it as a complete film, without ad breaks etc.
If you want to watch a great good old fashioned Western, with wagon trains, Indians attacking, bad guys, great shoot outs, lots of amazing horse riding like the westerns of yesterday, & the hero (Kirk Douglas) only just surviving all the action & getting a gorgeous Indian squaw to ride off with at the finish, then I can recommend this great movie.
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on 16 August 2008
This film is a fine example of the work of Kirk Douglas, being his first independent production. The first scene is notable for the meeting between Johnny Hawkes (Douglas) and an Indian warrior, when the conflict of "red-man & white" is made manifest. The sequence also contains brief nudity when a beautiful Indian girl goes to bathe. This was considered very "daring" at the time; however, this is handled with complete good taste and has the pleasing quality of a French film.

Johnny Hawkes is not a "hero" in the accepted sense, in that he prefers negotiation to fighting, only resorting to conflict where necessary. Douglas is well-supported by Lon Chaney jnr and Walter Matthau, each of whom give competent performances as the villains. The leading-lady, Elsa Martinelli, although Italian by nationality, is convincing her role as an Indian girl. The film might be likened to a Wagnarian opera, as the picture`s theme is greed for gold. Thus director Andre de Toth has skillfully blended 19th Century America with 19th Century Germany.

The rough kindness in the character of Johnny Hawkes is shown in the scene in which his horse - a magnificent seventeen-hand chestnut gelding - is shot from under him. In order to prevent the helpless animal, lying there, falling prey to a cat or bear and, in addition,to put his faithful mount out of its misery; he shoots it. But it is obvious from Johnny`s expression, that the act was performed only as a piece of rugged mercy.
Altogether, the picture is a splendid illustration of Western genre.
John Harman.
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on 19 April 2013
Kirk Douglas does an impressive performance as a tough Indian fighter named Johnny Hawks, who leads a wagon train through a dangerous Indian country. The action sequences are entertaining to watch and a young Walter Matthau and Lon Chaney jr make fine villains. But the plot does stumble at times and I wouldn't put it in the same category as Kirk's other westerns such as "Man without a star" or "Last train from gun hill". But if you are a fan of Kirk Douglas like me then this is well worth watching and I would give it 7/10.
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on 26 April 2017
good film, good viewing
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on 18 January 2014
When you buy for someone else you just hope they like their gift.Grandad pleased with it so we are too.good packaging and delivery once again.
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