Sixties City presents a wide-ranging series of articles on all aspects of the Sixties, penned by the creator of the iconic 60s music paper  Mersey Beat

Flaming Star

The novel 'The Brothers of Broken Lance' by Clair Huffaker was published by Random House in April 1958. 20th Century Fox bought the film rights prior to publication and announced that Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra would play the two brothers. However, negotiations with the two stars broke down. The title was then changed to 'Flaming Lance' and, on 12th June 1960, it was announced that Elvis would be starring in the movie. Huffaker had written the book in ten days but when he and screenwriter Nunnally Johnson collaborated on the script, it took them thirty weeks to write it.

The working title became 'Black Heart', then 'Flaming Heart' and the pre-release title was then 'Flaming Lance.' When it was known as 'Black Heart', then 'Black Star,' Elvis recorded a song with that title, but then it had to be changed with the word 'Flaming' replacing 'Black', but using the same lyrics and tune. The film was directed by Don Seigel, produced by David Weisbert and was premiered in Los Angeles on 20th December 1960 on a double bill with 'For The Love of Mike.'

Four songs were recorded for the film, although only two were used - 'Flaming Star,' written by Sid Wayne and Sherman Edwards, which was heard as the opening credits rolled and 'A Cane And A High Starched Collar,' penned by Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett. Elvis sang the number 'Summer Kisses Winter Tears' to Indians at their camp, but preview audiences laughed at it, so it was cut from film. Another song, 'Britches' was recorded for film. It was meant for Elvis to sing the song while riding his horse to the crossing with his brother Clint, but Elvis didn't want to perform it on horseback. The musicians who recorded the music were - Elvis, vocals; Howard Roberts, Tiny Timbrell, guitars; Myer Rubin, bass; Bernie Mattinson, drums; Dudley Brooks, piano; Jimmy Haskell, accordion; The Jordanaires, backing vocals. The film was photographed on three ranches in the San Fernando Valley, outside Los Angeles, and the 'Flaming Star' of the title referred to a vision some Indians claim to see as a sign of impending doom.

Elvis played Pacer, the half-breed son of Neddy Burton (Mexican actress Dolores Del Rio), Sam Burton's (John McIntyre) second wife, a Kiowa Indian. Steve Forrest played Clint Burton and Barbara Eden portrayed his girlfriend Roslyn Pierce. Her part originally went to British actress Barbara Steele, who wouldn't wear the blonde wig and didn't like the part, so she walked out on the movie and destroyed her career in Hollywood movies. Talking about the Roslyn character, Pacer refers to her as 'the girl who wears britches'. Incidentally, several of the film's publicity photos had Elvis and Barbara Eden together, looking as if they were romantically involved, yet the romance in the movie is with her and the character of his half brother. With the theme being about the son of a white father and Indian mother, the movie was banned in South Africa on racial grounds.

The film opens with Pacer and Clint arriving home at their parent's ranch to find that a surprise party has been organised for Clint, attended by their friends, the Howards. Returning from their ten mile journey home, the Howards are attacked by a Kiowa war party led by Buffalo Horn (Rodolfo Acosta) who kill them all, with the exception of Will Howard (Douglas Dick), and burn their ranch, then begin raiding neighbourhood homesteads. Some white men, furious at the Indian raids, arrive at the house and insult Neddy. Shots are fired which scare off the cattle, so Pacer and Clint have to ride out the next morning to round them up. Buffalo Horn approaches Pacer and asks him to join the Kiowa war party, which he refuses, but due to the increasingly tense situation he and Neddy go to the Kiowa camp to try and talk them into making peace.
Flaming Star

The Kiowa refuse and tell Pacer he has to make a decision to either join them or fight them. They are escorted home by a friendly Indian, Two Moons, but are attacked by Will Howard who kills Two Moons and wounds Neddy. She then goes to the nearby mountain in search of the 'flaming star' and dies in Sam's arms. Some settlers delayed the Doctor from coming to save Neddy and this causes Pacer to decide to join the Kiowas. However, his father is killed, his brother takes revenge on the Indians and Pacer comes to the rescue of his brother, but is killed while saving Clint's life.

This was a strong role for Elvis, who had already proved his acting skills in 'King Creole,' but it didn't satisfy Colonel Parker who wanted Elvis to make quickie cheap musicals with lots of songs and girls. A promising acting career was nipped in the bud..........

Mersey Beat Magazine Bill Harry attended the Liverpool College of Art with Stuart Sutcliffe and John Lennon and made the arrangements for Brian Epstein to visit The Cavern, where he saw The Beatles for the first time. Bill was a member of 'The Dissenters' and the founder and editor of 'Mersey Beat', the iconic weekly music newspaper that documented the early Sixties music scene in the Liverpool area and is possibly best known for being the first periodical to feature a local band called 'The Beatles'. He has worked as a high powered publicist, doing PR for acts such as Suzi Quatro, Free, The Arrows and Hot Chocolate and has managed press campaigns for record labels such as CBS, EMI, Polydor. Bill is the critically acclaimed author of a large number of books about The Beatles and the 60s era including 'The Beatles Who's Who', 'The Best Years of the Beatles' and the Fab Four's 'Encyclopedia' series. He has appeared on 'Good Morning America' and has received a Gold Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors.

Article Text Bill Harry               Original Graphics SixtiesCity     Other individual owner copyrights may apply to Photographic Images

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