Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Forgotten (or Overlooked) Film Tuesday: YELLOWSTONE KELLY (1959) starring Clint Walker, John Russell, Andra Martin and Edd Byrnes.

Forgotten or Overlooked Film Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Todd Mason over at his blog, SWEET FREEDOM. Don't forget to check in to see what other films, other bloggers are talking about today.

YELLOWSTONE KELLY is a film (directed by Gordon Douglas) with which I spent many hours mesmerized when I was an impressionable teen. I mean, I must have seen this about ten times in the theater and possibly even more on early TV. In fact, this post is being written totally from memories of my misspent youth. I spent a lot of time as a kid in darkened theaters, dazzled by dreams of romance and adventure.

I'm waiting patiently for Netflix to get a copy, hopefully sometime before the 22nd century.

If you're my ancient age, you probably remember Clint Walker in the weekly ABC western series, CHEYENNE. (I watched faithfully every week. I was smitten....sigh!) The tall, lumbering, broad shouldered actor, Clint Walker, transmuted himself in my mind into the ideal in masculine pulchritude. At least for all the years CHEYENNE was on the air.

YELLOWSTONE KELLY is the only film with Clint Walker that I remember watching, I know he made a few others - oh, a sudden thought - I did see him in THE DIRTY DOZEN - anyway, KELLY is the one I remember most. The film also featured several other Warner Brothers stars of their own ABC series: John Russell, Edd Byrnes, Ray Danton and WB contract players, Rhodes Reason (brother of Rex), Andra Martin and the ever dependable Claude Akins.

(YELLOWSTONE KELLY was a real-life 19th and early 20th century mountain man, though his name and the movie's title is about all reality and this particular fiction have in common.)

I think Edd 'Kookie' Byrnes was meant as teenage fodder for my age group back then - he'd achieved rock star status fame on the Warner Bros. series, 77 SUNSET STRIP - remember, "Kookie, Kookie, lend me your comb." Ha!

But those of us with discerning tastes knew that the film belonged to the men: Clint Walker, John Russell and Ray Danton - an array of male gorgeousness second to none. I admit it, I was not lured into the theater by the supposed excellence of the film. I would have gone to see those three in just about anything at the time. Especially since John Russell and Ray Danton wore loin cloths (at least that's how I remember it, those in these photos, Russell is wearing leather leggings), playing American Indians (we called them that then), for most of the film. The costumes by Marjorie Best (had to be a woman) were absolutely mind-boggling. Hey, I was a healthy teenage girl.

Here's the gist of the story - photographed on very scenic location by the way (I'm assuming Yellowstone Park but I don't know for sure), by Carl Guthrie: Kelly is a fur trapper (boo!) who once saved the life of Sioux Indian Chief Gall (played by John Russell and based on a real Native American). As a reward Kelly is allowed to set traps on Sioux land without being molested by the tribes. Through some story complication I don't remember, Kelly takes on an inexperienced apprentice named Anse (Edd Byrnes) whom he meets on one of his trips down the mountain to sell his furs.

Later, back home, Kelly rescues a wounded runaway Arapaho woman. He knows almost immediately there will be trouble. Especially since Wahleeah (played by the exquisitely beautiful Andra Martin) has run off from the nearby Sioux camp where she was held captive forced to choose for a husband, either Gall or Sayapi (Ray Danton) his rather pugnacious nephew.

(Not a bad choice, I'd have thought, but what do I know. I was, remember, a swooning impressionable teen.)

There's also trouble brewing between the Sioux and the cavalry - troops of which are criss-crossing Indian land.

In the meantime, Gall and his men want to reclaim the Arapaho woman, but she's too wounded to move and Kelly is allowed to care for her in his cabin. Uh-oh.

The woman is smart enough to know that Kelly is smitten with her though he makes no move, but more importantly, she is smitten with him. Anse too falls under her spell, but to no avail. As Wahleeyah later says to Kelly, "I have looked at you." A phrase pregnant with possibilities. Kelly fights the effect she has on him, he's a loner - damn it. He doesn't want any trouble. She must marry either Gall or Sayapi. But Wahleeyah has chosen Kelly. She is one stubborn young woman.

There's all sorts of  wild west trouble, fights, ambushes, gunfights and death as a volatile situation is made more so by the interference of the heart (and the cavalry). Well, what can you do? There's no accounting for love.

What I remember most about YELLOWSTONE KELLY is the stirring sight of John Russell expertly riding a pinto - bareback...sigh!

And the ending is a doozy.

The real Yellowstone Kelly in case you were wondering.


Good News: YELLOWSTONE KELLY is now available on Netflix Instant Streaming.


  1. The real Yellowstone was quite a stunner too!

  2. Yes, I noticed that. :)

    I always was a history buff.

  3. Wow! Never heard of this film. But granted I am not a huge western fan. But it still does look rather interesting.

    Good pick Yvette!

  4. I did see this as I was a big Clint Walker fan.

  5. iluvcinema: This is one of my youthful favorites! I was a huge western fan when I was a kid. Can you blame me? :)

  6. Patti: You and me, both.

    This cast is almost too much of a good thing....Almost. :)

  7. Enjoyed your commentary. We must have been watching this one at the same time on Starz. Anse and Kelly end up together because of that fight with the cavalry boys, where they take on six or more men. Easy to believe; Walker was huge. Notice how he had to duck through doorways?

  8. Ron: Actually, I haven't seen this in many years. I'm almost afraid I'll be disappointed.

    I also notice that Walker had a tendency to stoop because of his height. Though in that picture of Walker and Russell together, they look about the same height.

  9. The real Yellowstone Kelly is quite stunning! I was mesmerized by his rather large hands and the fact that he was missing his right pinky finger. I wonder if that was done in an act of torture?

  10. Pat: Amazingly enough I hadn't noticed the missing pinky. I just thought he'd tucked it under. But looking closer, I see that's not the case. Yikes.

    Maybe he lost it to one of his traps. Little furry critters gotta' get their revenge someway. :)

    Yes, he appears rather good looking, missing pinky and all.

    We are terrible. HA!

  11. I must admit, my interest in the film was most spiked by Ron's mention that Andra Martin takes her shirt off, too...but, given the vintage of the film, I suspect some very careful cinematography and editing.

    So far, this is the only incidence of simultaneous reviewing, independently arrived at, I b'lieve.

  12. FWIW, I call it Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V...just to be as inclusive (and accurate) as possible...

  13. I don't know this movie. I wasn't a Western movie fan, but I watched Have Fun Will Travel (Paladin) and Gunsmoke on TV because, let's face it, when you're babysitting and bored, there was nothing else to watch.

    I surely do remember Edd Byrnes and "kookie, kookie, lend me your comb," although I am embarassed to admit it.

    I was young, and also a teen-age girl, so what can I say?

  14. Oops: I mean Have Gun, Will Travel. (late-night typing is bound to be full of typos)

  15. Todd: There is a scene where her back is exposed to the camera. It is a beautiful back. So something for you to look forward to. :)

    I never check to see if anyone else has chosen the same film as I do. I just hope for the best.

    But it's interesting to compare notes.

    The dvd is available currently but it's 25 bucks. That requires a lot of thinking these days.

    1. The best part of this movie is I was a stuntman in it. I made enough money falling off horses to pay my freshman year in college. It was filmed in Flagstaff Az sSedona Az Lake Mary just outside of Flagstaff. The cabin was up on the San Francisco Peaks near Snow Bowl north of Flagstaff. It was a great experience for a 19 year old. I got aquinted with all the actors. I was the person that the horse fell with when crossing the river. I got back on him and rode him up. After all the Indians were after us. Ha.
      Phil Sanders. Kingman Az

    2. Wow. Thanks for this interesting tidbit, Phil. I'll look for that scene next time I watch the movie. :) I envy you getting acquainted with John Russell (a favorite of mine if you hadn't guessed) and Clint Walker and the like. It's funny that Andra Martin never really made a big career for herself. I've always wondered why. Anyway, thanks for dropping by.

  16. Kathy: Our youth excuses us! That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

    I loved westerns when I was a kid. Growing up in NYC, the wild west seemed unbearably exotic. :)

  17. The movie still holds up today. I bought an autographed copy of the movie from Clint Walker on his website, www.clintwalker.com, and have watched it countless times for the very reasons you so eloquently listed. My other favorite Clint Walker movie, Night of the Grizzly, isn't on DVD but there's a facebook campaign to get it done.

  18. The Mom: Does it? Really? Then I'm definitely going to see about getting a copy.

    Thsnks for dropping by. :)

  19. Yes, we are excused due to our young, tender ages.

    I confess that I had a big photo of Gardner McKay on my bedroom wall, had crushes on Troy Donahue, Edd Byrnes and other young heart throbs.

    If we all had to confess what was on our bedroom walls when we were teenagers, what would we come up with? The lists would be fodder for blackmail. But hilarious.

    At least when I went to college, I had passed this stage and put up posters of real artwork,and gone were the teen heartthrobs.

  20. Kathy: Gardner McKay - Adventures in Paradise. Ha! He was gorgeous!

    I wonder where he is today. I know he gave up 'acting' - he wasn't very good at it but who cared?

    Went sailing around the world. He really did go looking for adventure......sigh!

    I'll bet he found it, too. :)

    I don't remember the posters I had up on my walls. Selective memory. Ha!

  21. Gardner McKay apparently made 100 tv movies, then fled to work in the Amazon rain forest. He then became a photographer, a sculptor and then a playwright.

    He lived in Hawaii with his spouse, Madeleine Madigan, an artist, and their two children. He passed away in 2001 at 69.

    I see that Madigan has a website with her artwork displayed.

  22. Good to know, Kathy. Thanks for the info. I always remember his incredible good looks. :)

  23. Yes, my heartthrob in junior high school, big photo of McKay in his boat on the sea ... (sigh).


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