Warren Oates’ first credited feature. The story centers on the titular Kelly, a trapper played by Clint Walker who finds himself caught between a Sioux tribe, the US Army, and an alluring Arapahoe hostage.
The movie itself proves mediocre. Wide-open location photography shifts to constrained soundstages for major scenes. The big action set pieces never escaped the modest budget.
But I loved Walker’s performance. Standing six and a half feet tall, with broad shoulders and a granite jaw, he projects an almost superhuman appearance. Coupled with his baritone delivery, he’s the perfect action hero. During the requisite brawl scene, he towers over the other performers like a man among children.
I also appreciated seeing Rio Bravo’s Burdett brothers. Claude Akins, who played Joe, turns up an Army sergeant. John Russell, who played Nathan, shows up as a Sioux chief!
For his part, Oates proves forgettable in an inconsequential role as an Army soldier.