In the Arizona Territory in 1879, Captain Jeff Stanton takes command of a cavalry unit tasked with returning the Apaches to their reservation. The Mescaleros Apaches, led by chief Victorio, have left the reservation and openly attacked farmers,gold miners and settlers who trespassed on their lands. During a skirmish, Captain Stanton captures Red Hawk, the son of the chief, and uses him to bargain for a truce.Stanton promises to chief Victorio to see that gold miners and settlers are kept off Indian lands.However, some greedy townsfolk and disfranchised gold miners plot to break the uneasy truce.They murder the Indian agent and blame the Apaches.They complain to Washington D.C. about Captain Stanton's negotiated truce.Stanton is replaced by Colonel Perry who intends to use a heavy hand in subduing the Apaches.The consequence of this strategy change proves disastrous. Written by
Apache Rifles is directed by William Witney and adapted to screenplay by Charles B. Smith from a story written by Kenneth Gamet and Richard Schayer. It stars Audie Murphy, Michael Dante, Linda Lawson, L.Q. Jones, Ken Lynch, Joseph Vitale and Robert Brubaker. Music is by Richard La Salle and De Luxe cinematography is by Arch R. Dalzell.
Murphy stars as Capt. Jeff Stanton, a cavalry officer in Arizona territory, 1879, who is assigned to bring to the reservation the runaway Apaches who have had enough of the greedy gold miners pillaging from their promised land. Originally driven by his hatred towards Native Americans, Stanton's cause is muddied when he starts to fall for half Indian Dawn Gillis (Lawson), who in turn is courted by Red Hawk (Dante).
By 1964 the conventional B Western was very much on the wane, with the theme of being sympathetic to the Native Americans having already been explored significantly in far better Westerns than Apache Rifles. Though it never hurts to have another one in any day and age, mind! Apache Rifles is pretty standard stuff, it's decently constructed and paced by Witney, who gets to show his talent for action scenes, Murphy is his usual affable self, even getting to put some emotion conflict into the portrayal, and exterior photography out of Mojave and the Bronson and Red Rock Canyons is most pleasing. It never quite hits the dramatic heights it aims for because the simmering love triangle often stops the picture in its tracks, a shame especially as some political shenanigans could have been explored further, while a quick about turn in the finale smacks of audience manipulation and comes off as a cheat. But it's inoffensive stuff for the most part, enjoyable for the right reasons within its low budget, even if it's just one for Murphy fans to tick off their lists, never to be seen again. 6/10
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