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Two Army officers, an alcoholic ex-Confederate soldier and a womanizing Mexican travel to Mexico on a secret mission to prevent a megalomaniacal ex-Confederate colonel from selling a cache of stolen rifles to a band of murderous Apaches. Written by
Marty McKee <email@example.com>
An eclectic cast rounds out this rather rugged western film. Craggy Boone stars as a man who hates the Apaches because they slaughtered his wife and child (hardly an original background for a character.) When he is found using a certain rifle to kill his prey, he is arrested and thrown in jail with knife-wielding Franciosa, who is set to hang for murder. It turns out that the rifle is one of a huge shipment that has gone missing and it's up to cavalry captain Whitman and his sergeant Brown to retrieve them. Boone and Franciosa join them in order to aid the mission (and set up dramatic conflict within the contingent.) The foursome travels the dusty terrain of Utah and the American Southwest, encountering Indians and Mexican bandits along the way, all the while mistrusting each other. They believe the guns are in the possession of a dethroned Confederate Colonel (O'Brien), who wants to rebuild the South in all it's glory out West! (He even builds a mansion-like plantation home out of timber with fine furnishings and curtains in the windows, but no ceilings and, in most cases, no walls!) On the way to O'Brien, the quartet also picks up a spitfire Apache girl (Wagner) who tried to do them in with a gang of pals, but failed. If it all sounds pretty standard and pat, it is to a point, but thanks to the entertaining cast, the captivating Jerry Goldsmith score, the location scenery and the rough edges of the story, it manages to be an entertaining film. Boone puts a lot of compelling flavor into his role. Whitman is less impressive, but does a nice enough job. Franciosa is very hammy and indulgent, but keeps it interesting anyway. Brown (a man with an unbelievable physique) has almost nothing to say or do, but still comes across as warm and thoughtful, not to mention strong! He retains his dignity at a time when racial tensions were beginning to start their boil-over. O'Brien has a lot of fun with his outre character. Wagner is nearly unrecognizable in a sketchy character. Her loyalties are divided and her reasoning isn't always clear. (Her character speaks no English in the film.) She would soon enter pop culture history as the loyal assistant to "The Green Hornet" on TV. Several memorable moments occur in the film including a standoff between the men and some Apaches at a deserted house, a torture sequence in which the men are dragged by horses and flogged with straps and the sight of O'Brien's surreal timber estate. This isn't a particularly well known western, but it certainly has merit as it demonstrates the changing level of content in the genre and contains some solid acting.
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