A Different Clint, the Same Old Western
"Yellowstone Kelly" is your middle of the road, average 1950s western, there is nothing terrible about it but neither is there anything special about it, it just is a standard western. And as such there are various cliches and scenarios which crop up from the cavalry trying to push the Sioux Indians back of their land to romantic complications between the white man and an attractive Indian. None of which is original but like those other westerns which use the same scenarios it is entertaining especially with the square jawed Clint Walker quietly leading the drama.
Fur trapper Luther 'Yellowstone' Kelly (Clint Walker - The Dirty Dozen) is a well known man; the cavalry are well aware of his knowledge of the wilderness and want him to help them in driving the Sioux of their land. Refusing Kelly finds himself taking on the young Anse Harper (Edd Byrnes) as an assistant but on the way back to Kelly's home they find themselves being captured by the Sioux as Chief Gall (John Russell) was once saved by Kelly and he would like him to save the life of Wahleeah (Andra Martin - Up Periscope) a beautiful Arapaho captive. But this brings complications as Wahleeah ends up taking refuge with Kelly and Anse leading to trouble as Gall's nephew Sayapi (Ray Danton) vows to kill Kelly.
So as stories go "Yellowstone Kelly" works, it has drama, romance and action be it a fist fight as Kelly ends up being wound up by racist Cavalry men or a gunfight with the Sioux. But the thing is that whilst it works it does feel very familiar as we have various cliches from the nephew of the Indian Chief going against his authority to the Cavalry wanting Kelly to aid in chasing the Sioux of their land. And as such "Yellowstone Kelly" becomes a movie less about the story and more about various moments.
Now the thing about "Yellowstone Kelly" is that for all the Cavalry stuff and Kelly taking the inexperienced Anse under his wing the central element is a romantic four way, yes this is more than a romantic triangle. As such we have Chief Gall who secretly fancies Wahleeah, his nephew who having captured feels that she is his, Anse who is manipulated by Wahleeah as he gets to know her and Kelly who being a solitary man fights his feelings. It is plainly obvious what will happen or at least who ends up riding off into the sunset with Wahleeah but with Andra Martin playing Wahleeah as a beautiful, sexy temptress it makes it interesting.
Aside from Andra Martin the real focus of "Yellowstone Kelly" is square jawed Clint Walker who does a good job of playing the solitary loving fur trapper. The lack of expressiveness which Walker delivers is for me in keeping with the character of a man who spends his life alone. And that means that Edd Byrnes is entertaining as Anse Harper because Byrnes gets the inexperience of Anse across and his need to talk which leads to comical exasperation from Kelly.
What this all boils down to is that "Yellowstone Kelly" is just another average 1950s western which if you are a fan of westerns is worth watching but it is not going to be one you will remember.