Audie Murphy plays a young Jesse James falling under the Svengali-like spell of the outlaw William Quantrill, played by Brian Donlevy. Jesse and his youthful gang join the rebels to avenge the death of his parents only to become disillusioned with the senseless violence and looting of innocent civilians. Goaded by Quantrill's girl to leave, Jesse vacillates until the Yankees close in. Quantrill forces Jesse to leave and faces the Yankees gunfire alone. Jesse rides off with his gang and the rest is history.Written by
Rita Richardson <RRichar790@aol.com>
Although Brian Donlevy was almost 49 when he made this film, the real William Quantrill was only 27 when he died. Marguerite Chapman was 32 when the film was made and plays Quantrill's woman, Kate Clarke, a fictional character. In real life, Quantrill met a local Missouri girl, Sarah Katherine King, when she was only 13. She lived in camp with Quantrill and his soldiers. They married and she was 17 when he died. See more »
Although brother Frank did join Quantrill, there is no evidence that Jesse, less than 16 at the time, ever joined the guerrilla raiders in Kansas. See more »
William Clarke Quantrill:
Napoleon made the profound observation that an army travels on its stomach. I suggest you fortify yours if you hope to be of any use to us.
See more »
I would have liked to have given Kansas Raiders a slightly higher rating but for the corny script. At no time could I imagine Jesse James, as played by the legendary Audie Murphy, as having a conscience. As I understand it, James was a cold blooded individual, where here, Murphy keeps having twinges of sympathy and romantic notions. Hollywood at it's most watered down. On the up side, it's beautifully shot with some rousing and quite brutal raids on the North by Quantrill's ragbag of followers from the South, during the American Civil War. There's a nice performance by Brian Donlevy as Quantrill and on looking at the cast as the movie starts, was quite taken by seeing Tony Curtis listed as the fifth name, here playing Kit Dalton, one of Murphy's pals. Other character actors of some fame are featured include Richard Long and James Best, and two actors who went on to have some measure of fame as leading men, Scott Brady and Richard Egan. Marguerite Chapman is the leading lady, although I've never heard of her before, and average for the period. I can always watch Murphy, who always underplays with an air of authority, and I think a better actor than some gave him credit for.
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