This is definitely the best film Elvis Presley ever starred in; he shed his celebrity persona and delivered a great, dramatic performance in a superb action story with teriffic characterizations. No doubt about it, in "Flaming Star," Preseley is an ACTOR. And a damned good one too. (He only sings two songs, and they are presented right at the beginning so the film can then get down to the heavy business.)
Originally, the material was written to star Marlon Brando, but was re-written to accomodate Elvis. He plays a half Kiowa man named Pacer who finds himself jammed in the middle of growing war between the settlers and the Kiowa. In trying not to take sides, he finds his world swirls down into violence and chaos. It is refreshingly devoid of "can't we all get along" cliches and really digs deep into the near-impossibility of life when you are split in two, like Pacer. Elvis really nails the character down.
Director Siegel is at his usual great level of achievement: tight-lipped, boiling drama between the characters, and blasts of sometimes surprising violence. He doesn't let anybody off easily. This isn't a lightweight oater: Siegel took his craft seriously. Helping out are great performances from the superb cast, especially Delores Del Rio as Pacer's Kiowa mother.
If you're looking for an Elvis musical, with the rock star persona in full blast, go for "Jailhouse Rock," his second best film. If you want a fun and silly Elvis movie, go for the endearingly wacky "Via Las Vegas." If you want to see a plain great film with Elvis Preseley showing his potential as a serious actor -- go for FLAMING STAR. You won't regret it.