In 1849, during the California gold rush, prospector Jan Morell and his brother Frank plan to save enough gold in order to buy good farming land in the Napa Valley. One day, while Jan and Frank are prospecting in a nearby river bed, a gang of thugs and claim jumpers led by Jack Welch and Hank Purvis ransack Jan's cabin, steal his gold dust and kill his wife. One of the thugs, Purvis, also takes the cameo brooch Jan gave to his wife. When Jan and Frank return to the cabin and discover the tragedy, Jan swears vengeance. In town, at the local saloon, the killers spend their newly found gold loot at the gambling table. Jan and Frank arrive at the saloon where they start inquiring about the possible whereabouts of the gang who robbed them. The thugs are aware of this and decide to kill the two brothers upon their leaving the saloon. Frank is killed and Jan is wounded but manages to ride away. He is found by Mexican Felipe De Ortega who takes him to his home where his sister Elena nurses ... Written by
Richard Conte seeks revenge for his loss of wife and mining claim
"Riders of Vengeance" (1952) aka "The Raiders" is quite a good Universal western. The story is good, action plentiful and the cast convincing. Richard Conte, no western star, fits the part of a man whose losses impel him to seek out those responsible with a determination that is quite dark itself. Conte can be quite intense and serious in roles like this. The king pin antagonist is Morris Ankrum, a mining baron who secures claims in California any way he can and who wants to keep it a territory. His operatives who do the dirty work include John Kellogg and Hugh O'Brian, clad in black. Conte, has lost his wife to O'Brian's violence, is attracted to Viveca Lindfors and joins forces with her brother, Ricard Martin, and others who have been robbed and cheated out of their claims, as they begin to raid Ankrum's holdings. One of my favorite b-actors, William Bishop, plays a sheriff. Adding a touch of beauty is Barbara Britton as Ankrum's daughter. It's not a classic western, but it begins to assume the dimensions of an adult western because of Conte's part and casting.
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