The Indian Fighter (1955) Kirk Douglas, Elsa Martinelli, Walter Matthau, Diana Douglas Movie Review

The Indian Fighter (1955)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Kirk Douglas in The Indian Fighter (1955)

Machismo Man

Having survived the civil war Johnny Hawks (Kirk Douglas) returns to his old stomping ground but no longer as an Indian fighter but now as a guide, leading wagon trains through Indian Territory. Despite having a friendship with Chief Red Cloud (Eduard Franz) the situation is uneasy due to various whisky traders who have been trying to get their hands on the Indian's gold. Whilst leading one wagon train through the area Johnny sneaks off to see Onahti (Elsa Martinelli) the chief's young daughter who he has taken a shine too but in his absence trouble springs up between the Indians and the whisky traders.

There is a scene in "The Indian Fighter" where having taken a shine to Onahti Johnny forces himself on her to steal a kiss. Now not only would that scene cause some unrest if it was put in a movie these days but I remember other movies where Kirk Douglas did the same sort of thing, playing on his machismo and delivering what can simply called a vigorous performance full of confidence. Now I am a fan of Kirk Douglas but at times his performance is bigger than the movie and often comes across as being too cocky and arrogant.

Diana Douglas in The Indian Fighter (1955)

But look pass Douglas' full on performance and what you have, well what you have is a pretty routine storyline where we have a peace treaty with the Indians ruined by some gold hungry whisky dealers which threatens to cause a massacre of a wagon train and a fort. Even the whole sub plot surrounding Johnny's attraction to the Indian Chief's daughter was not completely new in 1955. It isn't that "The Indian Fighter" isn't entertaining but because the storyline has a certain familiarity it ends up dominated by Kirk Douglas's performance.

An interesting fact is that John Wayne turned down this movie and I wonder what would have happened if they had found someone other than Kirk for the role because the rest of the performances are good. Walter Matthau makes for a strangely likeable but dodgy dealer whilst Diana Douglas makes for a beautiful and sympathetic widow.

What this all boils down to is that "The Indian Fighter" is an entertaining western but for me the familiarity of the storyline leaves it being over powered by Kirk Douglas who delivers a typical full of machismo performance which at times is too much.