The Indian Fighter is trail guide Kirk Douglas, who agrees to shepherd a wagon train through Sioux territory. Douglas tries to convince the Sioux to leave his charges alone, but such hotheads as drunken white trader Walter Matthau and embittered Indian brave Harry Landers escalate the tensions. Douglas is forced to go “mano y mano” with Landers; Douglas wins, but refuses to kill Landers, having lost his taste for killing. But when Matthau and his partner Lon Chaney Jr. contrive to rob the Indians of their gold, Sioux chief Eduard Franz prepares to wipe out the settlers. Only when Douglas risks life and limb to bring Matthau and Chaney Jr. to justice does Franz relent. Somehow, Kirk Douglas manages to link up with two leading ladies in The Indian Fighter: his Italian “discovery” Elsa Martinelli and his own ex-wife Diana Douglas (wouldn’t you liked to have been a fly on the wall at that casting call?) The first film assembled by Douglas’ own Bryna Productions, The Indian Fighter is a particular treat when seen in color; incredibly, its first network telecast in 1962 was in black and white.
André de Toth (May 15, circa 1912 – October 27, 2002) was a Hungarian-American filmmaker, born and raised in Makó, Csongrád, Kingdom of Hungary Austro-Hungarian Empire. He directed the 3-D film House of Wax, despite being unable to see in 3-D himself, having lost an eye at an early age. He is known for his gritty B movies in the western and crime genres.
Born ca. 1912 as Sâsvári Farkasfalvi Tóthfalusi Tóth Endre Antal Mihály, he earned a degree in law from the Royal Hungarian University in the early 1930s. He garnered acclaim for plays written as a college student, acquiring the mentorship of Ferenc Molnár and becoming part of the theater scene in Budapest. From that involvement he segued to the film industry and worked as a writer, assistant director, editor and sometime actor. In 1939 he directed five films just before war began in Europe. Several of these pictures received significant release in the Hungarian communities in the United States. De Toth went to England, spent… read more
An extremely romantic and reverential film, celebrating the wild beauty of the untamed West. A dream of the landscapes, both in the camera and in the character of Kirk Douglas, one of the most romantic and deeply felt heroes in all westerns. The respect and love of nature and people in the film make incidences of violence all the more brutal and tragic in context. As if a 19th century transcendentalist was reincarnated as a tightly formal genre filmmaker.
Written by Ben Hecht, The Indian Fighter is primarily a film about lies and rumors and their consequences. The main character himself, Johnny Hawks, is believed to have been killed in the American Civil War, by the Sioux and by the U.S. Cavalry. The film is also a film about Nature where characters hide or are only seen in the background. Close-ups are reserved to Briggs, the army photographer. Highly recommended.