Johnny Hawks, a former Indian fighter, returns to the West after the Civil War. He reacquaints himself with the Indian band led by Red Cloud. Red Cloud’s beautiful daughter has now grown into womanhood… Unscrupulous whisky traders are after the gold on Indian land. Hawks averts serious bloodshed by convincing Red Cloud to make a treaty… Hawks leads an Oregon-bound wagon train through Indian territory. When he slips away to see the chief’s daughter, trouble between braves and whisky traders flares up anew, putting the wagon train and the nearby fort in peril…
User Reviews: With a title like THE Indian FIGHTER, you’d think that this was the standard "let’s kill all the Indians" type movie so typical in the 1940s and 50s. However, like some of the better cowboy and Indian films of the era (such as the great FORT APACHE and the not so great CHEYENNE), the reason for the Indians hating the Whites is explained–they are not just unreasoning savages or idiots, but people justifiably angry at their mistreatment by the invading Whites. Because of this, I appreciated the film and was also happy that it also wasn’t like some of the newer breed of films that paint the Indians and completely noble and the Whites as the epitome of evil! It did seem well balanced AND featured mostly Indians in Indian parts (though, oddly, they chose an Italian lady to play the female leading Indian!).
The rest of the film, while entertaining and having the usual great performance by Kirk Douglas, also is very simplistic and poorly thought out at times. For example, the motivation for why Douglas saved Walter Mathau’s sorry butt at the beginning of the film is unclear. It defied common sense not to just let the Indians kill Mathau. Plus, at the end of the film, Douglas’ confrontation with Douglas and Lon Chaney, Jr. was a long time coming but was resolved awfully quickly–making it seem very anti-climactic. Still, overall it does stand out from the HUGE number of look alike Westerns and it is worth your time.