Kirk Douglas, Walter Matthau and Lon Chaney star in this "exciting account" (Leonard Maltin) about a man who made his name fighting Indians but now must use his peacekeeping skills to keep wronged Sioux warriors from massa... more »cring a wagon train and a nearby fort! After the Civil War, Johnny Hawks (Douglas), the Indian Fighter, returns to the West and establishes a treaty with the Sioux Indians. But when two renegade frontiersmen (Matthau and Chaney) seeking a legendary Indian gold mine murder the brother of the Sioux chief, tensions escalate, endangering every man in the territory!« less
Kirk Douglas in a pro-Indian pro-environment Western romance
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 03/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"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."
William W. Miller | Sparks, NV United States | 05/31/2003
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Either the original or transfer was terribly faulty but picture was poor. Aspect changed from moment to moment. Focus was a bit bleary and night shots were too dark to tell what was going on. And the story, it almost seemed like there were scenes deleted as story line had a very jerky feel to it. As a collector of western films, can only say this ranks among the worst I have purchased."
Great Kirk Douglas Western
Terence Allen | Atlanta, GA USA | 12/18/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Indian Fighter was blessed to have two great things going for it when it was made - one was Kirk Douglas, who was a standout in a number of Westerns, including Gunfight at The OK Corral, Last Train to Gun Hill, Along The Great Divide, Man Without A Star, and a number of others. The second was director Andre de Toth, who directed some great Westerns, including Ramrod, Springfield Rifle, and Riding Shotgun.
Together, they tell the entertaining story of Johnny Hawks, "The Indian Fighter," a legendary soldier who nows scouts for a living. As he tries to guide a wagon train to Oregon through Indian territory, Hawks gets in the middle of warring Indians and a defenseless fort. The Indians are upset because white men are trying to steal gold from their land, and the fort's commander is ready to fight, even if it means the death of everyone in the fort. Add Hawks' budding romance with the Indian chief's daughter, and you have lots of excitement.
This is a film that should get more attention than it does, and I hope that the DVD release will open it up to a much wider audience. The Indian Fighter is a very enjoyable Western."
Fun, Silly Western from the 1950s with everything but the ki
James Simpson | USA | 05/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"It's hard to dislike a film like The Indian Fighter(1956). For one thing it's got a great cast. Kirk Douglas is the hero and Walter Matthau and Lon Chaney Jr. are the villians with Elsa Martinelli as an indian babe/love interest.
The film is directed by Andre De Toth who has made many enjoyable B-Westerns throughout the 50s and it includes plenty of the genre's most beloved cliches and more. This film's got Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Romance and plenty of Action to keep many a viewer interested.
The film's plot isn't so entirely original as it revolves aroung Douglas trying to keep tension at ease between the Sioux Indian Tribe and the U.S. Cavalery. Despite the title, Douglas is actually peaceful with the indians and treats them fairly, more so than other whites depicted within. He even romances the most beautiful Indian girl there is in the form of Elsa Martinelli. And who the hell can blame him?
Her introduction is a classic, beautifully realized piece of exploitation as she disrobes within the first minute of the picture(!) to take a nude swim! Awesome! It kind of saddened me that even though they do end up together, not more time was spent on this gorgeous babe and her relationship with Mr. Douglas. That's not just so myself and all the other male viewers can get a chance to ogle her perfect form but that she's actually rather interesting and her and the lead actually have chemistry! That trick she pulled on Douglas when he tried to sneak away in the night after going at with her was a classic!
The team of Walter Matthau and Lon Chaney Jr. is a little surreal, as they have such different acting styles. However it works and they are both appropiately hissable villains even if there climatic confrontation with Kirk is somewhat anti-climatic. Chaney is somewhat of a broad actor, but always brought a somewhat likeable quality to his characters, even if Horror seemed his calling. Matthau is a real bastard in this film, but I must say , it's not difficult to see how he became such a star later on.
A special nod must be given to Elisha Cook Jr. Usually cast the quintessential loser and dope in films, this picture affords him a very sympathetic sweet role as a former Civil War photographer who wishes to bring the beauty of the west to people around the world through his photography, in a way echoing that of Western filmmakers. Douglas' character resents the idea, claiming the West as a "beautiful woman i'd rather keep to myself". The sentiment is understandable being what civilization will do the West, but respect is given to this character and frankly, this concept could have made a nice picture on it's own.
If the film has any problems, it's that it has probally too many wonderful ideas to encompass it's ninety minute length. The war between the indians and Army, the romance of Douglas and Martinelli, the plight of the Wagon Train and it's people and the gold hunting villians. Still, this is so entertaining and fun to watch that few complaints can be brought against it. It's just such a good time.
The DVD features both Widescreen format and Pan and Scan versions of the film as well as a Theatrical Trailer."
A simple-minded Western with touches of philosophy and not m
Roberto Frangie | Leon, Gto. Mexico | 11/08/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Filmed in Oregon, Andre De Toth's film is a frontier adventure tale of the Great Sioux Nation whose heritage and culture run through the silver screen like a strong steady stream...
The motion picture touches up new ground by giving Indians a little sex appeal... Douglas, as a vigorous frontier scout, tries to attract the Indian maiden Onahti, played by the attractive brunette Elsa Martinelli... The Italian actress is seen bathing in the fresh waters of a river and later captured nude in a transparent voluminous stream...
"The Indian Fighter" concerns the efforts of a wagon train heading for Oregon in 1870... The train stops at a small frontier fort when the Sioux forbid them to pass through their territory... A seasoned scout and Indian expert, Johnny Hawks (Douglas), is assigned by the army to aid them...
Hawks rapidly goes to the camp of the dignified Chief Red Cloud (Eduard Franz) who explains that the trouble was started by white whiskey traders, trying to rob the Indians of their gold...
Hawks promises to settle th situation and the Chief agrees to appear at the fort to sign a peace treaty... However, his aggressive brother Grey Wolf (Harry Landers) repudiates peace talk because he despises all white men as dishonorable...
Douglas' portrait of Hawks is suitably vigorous and possibly comes close to depicting the actual character of such a man - Hawks is a jealous self-confident man who considers the West as his milieu... He declines to open up the West for civilization... He considers the West as 'a beautiful woman' and refuses to share her with anybody... He is a brave warrior who fights Sioux-style, and a shooter who never miss a snake... He respects the Indians as vanquished valiant enemies who deserve to be treated as human beings...