The Indian Fighter

Overview

Andre de Toth's The Indian Fighter (1956) comes to DVD as a double-sided disc, letterboxed (2.35-to-1) on one side and full-frame, pan-and-scan on the other. It's probably been at least 45 years since the widescreen film elements on this movie were utilized for any reason, and the source print looks excellent, with a bright, sharp image, in day or night shots. De Toth makes use of expansive location exteriors (shot in Oregon) throughout that can only really be appreciated on the widescreen side of this disc -- ...
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Overview

Andre de Toth's The Indian Fighter (1956) comes to DVD as a double-sided disc, letterboxed (2.35-to-1) on one side and full-frame, pan-and-scan on the other. It's probably been at least 45 years since the widescreen film elements on this movie were utilized for any reason, and the source print looks excellent, with a bright, sharp image, in day or night shots. De Toth makes use of expansive location exteriors (shot in Oregon) throughout that can only really be appreciated on the widescreen side of this disc -- one dance sequence in particular, at 31 minutes in, is extraordinary in its combination of camera movement and CinemaScope lensing. The sound is mastered at a very healthy volume level that brings out not only all of the dialogue and the sound effects but Franz Waxman's score. The full-frame version of the movie is bright enough but misses the care that De Toth took in his framing of the shots -- seen full-screen, everything is in medium shot or close-up of some kind or other, and it is overall but a shadow of the movie's original image, and the full-screen transfer also doesn't look remotely as good as the letterboxed image, in terms of clarity or color. Both the full-frame and letterboxed sides contain the same 16 chapters which, in an 88 minute movie, is a generous breakdown of the plot. Those chapters are easy enough to access through a three-layer menu, with English captions and French and Spanish subtitles also available.
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Special Features

Original theatrical trailer; English: Mono; English, French, & Spanish language subtitles
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
André De Toth's The Indian Fighter (1955) -- starring and produced by Kirk Douglas -- is sort of the left-of-center answer to John Wayne's movie Hondo and to Broken Arrow, starring James Stewart. All three movies, in their depictions of relations between whites and Native Americans, depict good and bad on both sides as well as tragic mistakes in judgment by various participants, but The Indian Fighter is a lot bleaker in its prospects for its hero: John Wayne's Hondo Lane finds a family with which he can go West -- once he's ironed out the difficulty surrounding the fact that he had to kill the woman's husband. And James Stewart's Tom Jeffords is able to pursue peace, but Douglas' Johnny Hawks must abandon the family he nearly "adopted" and all contact with his own people; Hawks has become such an outcast at the end, who must watch from a safe distance as the whites move on in peace. Similarly, there is not a hint that the adult whites around him, with the exception of Walter Abel's army captain, have learned much of anything from the ordeal they suffer from the attack on the wagon train and the fort. One has a profound (and accurate) sense that this is no better than a truce for the moment, with more tragedy to come. Hondo presents a similar point-of-view but seems to offer more hope for its hero who, in any case, has suffered far more at the hands of the Indians by the end of the movie. The Indian Fighter also has an interesting twist on the nature of its villainy: In Hondo and Broken Arrow, the white hostiles are pretty much motivated by a combination of greed and ignorance, but Douglas' production gives us a surprisingly crafty and articulate malefactor in the guise of Wes Todd, played by Walter Matthau, who is smarter than he looks or acts. Additionally, the script is set up in such a way that Hawks has no compunction about turning Todd over to the Native Americans for their brand of justice, at the tip of a burning arrow -- something that few heroes in this kind of movie would have done. It is this act that marks perhaps the surest sign that Hawks must burn his bridges to the white community in order to save himself, and his chosen wife, Onati (played by Elsa Martinelli), as well as the members of that white community who are worth saving. The underlying tone of the movie is, thus, extremely bleak, but is balanced by a story that moves forward at a breakneck pace and takes extraordinarily good advantage of its actual location shooting and widescreen formatting.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/20/2003
  • UPC: 027616885838
  • Original Release: 1955
  • Rating:

  • Source: Mgm (Video & Dvd)
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Cinemascope (2.35:1)
  • Presentation: Pan & Scan
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
  • Language: English
  • Time: 1:28:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Kirk Douglas Johnny Hawks
Elsa Martinelli Onahti
Walter Abel Capt. Trask
Walter Matthau Wes Todd
Diana Douglas Susan Rogers
Eduard Franz Red Cloud
Lon Chaney Jr. Chivington
Alan Hale Jr. Will Crabtree
Elisha Cook Jr. Briggs
Michael Winkelman Tommy Rogers
Harry Landers Grey Wolf
William Phipps Lt. Blake
Buzz Henry Lt. Shaeffer
Ray Teal Morgan
Frank Cady Trader Joe
Hank Worden Crazy Bear
Lane Chandler Head Settler
Technical Credits
André De Toth Director
Ben Hecht Screenwriter
Richard Cahoon Editor
Wilfrid M. Cline Cinematographer
Frank Davis Screenwriter
Kirk Douglas Producer
Irving Gordon Songwriter
Wiard Ihnen Art Director
Ben Kadish Original Story
David Koehler Special Effects
William Schorr Producer
Franz Waxman Score Composer
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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Standard
1. Main Title/Meeting [6:23]
2. Red and White [3:57]
3. Witness Protection [7:24]
4. Partners [4:27]
5. Peaceful Negotiation [4:39]
6. Peace Treaty [5:24]
7. Johnny's Women [7:33]
8. Crossing [2:31]
9. Sioux Country [5:58]
10. Trading Party [6:34]
11. Bad Blood [4:30]
12. Short Peace [8:32]
13. Firestarters [7:57]
14. Johnny's Mission [5:03]
15. Lasting Peace [6:11]
16. End Credits [1:09]
Side #2 -- Widescreen
1. Main Title/Meeting [6:23]
2. Red and White [3:57]
3. Witness Protection [7:24]
4. Partners [4:27]
5. Peaceful Negotiation [4:39]
6. Peace Treaty [5:24]
7. Johnny's Women [7:33]
8. Crossing [2:31]
9. Sioux Country [5:58]
10. Trading Party [6:34]
11. Bad Blood [4:30]
12. Short Peace [8:32]
13. Firestarters [7:57]
14. Johnny's Mission [5:03]
15. Lasting Peace [6:12]
16. End Credits [1:08]
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Menu

Side #1 -- Standard
   Play
   Scenes
   Theatrical Trailer
   Subtitles
      English
      Français
      Español
Side #2 -- Widescreen
   Play
   Scenes
   Theatrical Trailer
   Subtitles
      English
      Français
      Español
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