A fur-trapper named Kelly, who once saved the life of a Sioux chief, is allowed to set his traps in Sioux territory during the late 1870s. Reluctantly he takes on a tenderfoot assistant named Anse and together they give shelter to a runaway Arapaho woman. Tensions develop when Anse falls in love with this woman and when the Sioux chief arrives with his warriors to re-claim her.
From the same director
Clint Walker (Luther 'Yellowstone' Kelly), Edd Byrnes (Anse Harper (as Edward Byrnes)), John Russell (Gall), Ray Danton (Sayapi - Gall's Nephew), Claude Akins (Sergeant), Rhodes Reason (Maj. Towns), Andra Martin (Wahleeah - Sayapi's Arapaho Captive), Gary Vinson (Lieutenant), Warren Oates (Corporal), Nesdon Booth (Reed - Burly Soldier (uncredited)), Buff Brady (Helmsman (uncredited)), Foster Hood (Drummer (uncredited)), Clyde Howdy (Indian (uncredited)), Harry Shannon (Captain of the Far West (uncredited)), Vince St. Cyr (Indian (uncredited)), Chief Yowlachie (Medicine Man (uncredited))
A well-reputed fur-trapper, Apache-scout, and frontiersman, Luther "Yellowstone" Kelly, decides to "hire on" a teenaged Anse Harper (teen idol, Edd Byrnes) against his better judgment but grows fond of the boy. Always a loner, Kelly felt (up until he meets Anse, and later Arapaho beauty, Wahleeah (Andra Martin)) he was best on his own, but Anse is a gentle-voiced, non-combative, polite young man who does what he's told to the best of his abilities. Soon, Kelly and Anse run up on the Sioux (led by Gall (John Russell) and his fiery, antagonistic nephew, Sayapi (Ray Danton)), while journeying back to Kelly's cabin (traveling through "the snake" into the "high country" of Montana (where the "springs get quite green")). Saving Gall's "woman", Wahleeah (who wishes to return to her own people), from certain death, Kelly earns brownie points and is allowed to leave (along with Anse). The Calvary (with the likes of Claude Akins and debuting Warren Oates, as well as, Rhodes Reason and Gary Vinson) want to drive out the Sioux by taking an accompaniment of soldiers through "the snake", but Kelly warns against such foolishness. Kelly, though, understands that the White Man will eventually take the land due to strength in numbers.
Clint Walker is hired for his screen presence and build (the camera of director Gordon Douglas shoots Walker's Kelly as if he were a towering legend, with the expected close-ups of his non-violent, peace-desiring, conflict-weary face) more than any serious acting chops, but I never felt he wasn't adequate in the part. It isn't like Kelly needed the "method touch" or anything. Edd was probably casted to secure the teen-youth market; he is the moral compass that questions the choice of Kelly to allow Wahleeah to return to the Sioux as she clearly is held by them against her will. Kelly has that dilemma upon him Wahleeah escapes from the Sioux, stealing one of their ponies in the night, successfully making it to Kelly's cabin. Kelly makes a stance towards Gall regarding Wahleeah; because she's still in bad health due to her past injuries, Kelly refuses to allow Gall to escort her away when Wahleeah is in no shape to travel. Sayapi is the main heavy of the film as the prideful, aggressive, hostile Sioux warrior questioning Gall's judgment and bravery, soon responsible for tragedy involving Anse (who intends to take Wahleeah to her people despite Kelly's orders to keep her in the cabin), earning Kelly's vengeance. Of course, there's the battle at the end (as expected by these kinds of western adventures) where the Sioux engage Kelly and the remaining survivors left of the Calvary with guns firing, dust kicked up, and bodies hitting the ground. "Yellowstone Kelly" is surprisingly violent, with plenty of knife and gun violence, especially when Kelly goes after Sayapi and the Sioux in his company. This wouldn't be complete without fisticuffs so Walker tolerates the heckling of Akins and Oates up to a point until he has no choice but to lay the smack to them (yep, a water trough and window are used to subdue the rude soldiers who mocked Kelly by calling him an Indian; Kelly respects Native American tribes, and he doesn't even make much of a fuss when the soldiers first rib him in a bar, but a stagecoach dust up pushes him too far).
The script doesn't actually bang the patriot drum, with some sympathy towards tribes affected by White Man's colonization of their land. Russell, as Gall, follows the lead of many Caucasian actors "dressed in red face" as he carries a "man-of-few-words, pillar of strength" approach to the Sioux leader not to be disrespected and not quick to rush into anything without thinking of the consequences. There's a great scene where Sayapi seems ready to approach Kelly (against Gall's wishes) when Gall grabs him by the throat in a clinch and makes the kid fall to the ground this tells you that Gall is in charge for a reason. Gall's built for it while Sayapi goes too far and winds up just as he does by film's end. There's something that stayed with me regarding how Kelly tells Gall to take his men and go because the land no longer treats them well the script has a lot of this (saying that the former occupants of a land that had been there's for ages is taken from them, with White Man telling them to find somewhere else to call home).
Man nannte ihn Kelly (Austria; West Germany) • A Lei do Mais Valente (Brazil) • Yellowstone Kelly (Canada (English title); Romania) • Sioux indianerne angriber (Denmark) • Emboscada (Spain) • Eränkävijä (Finland) • Le géant du grand nord (France) • Antarsia stin kokkini koilada (Greece) • La guida indiana (Italy) • Muralla de sangre (Mexico)
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