In 1865, three escaped Confederate POWs are coerced into joining an offshoot of Quantrill's raiders who are planning to rob a Union gold shipment concealed in a civilian wagon train going from Santa Fe to St. Louis.
Late in the Civil War, three Confederate soldiers escape from Camp Benton, a Union prison camp in Missouri. They soon fall into the hands of pro-Confederate raiders, who force them to to go to Santa Fe to join a civilian wagon train that will be secretly transporting $1miilion in Union gold to St. Louis, Missouri. The three men are to lead the wagons into a raider trap at Cow Creek in Missouri, but one of them builds friendships with the wagon train travelers and a widow and he continues to have doubts and misgivings..Written by
Joel McCrea did another western with a similar premise to The Outriders for Warner Brothers in South of St. Louis. That was three partners in a cattle ranch who all went their separate ways as a result of the Civil War.
Here to the premise is three men who also go their separate ways as a result of the Civil War. Here the shared experience is prison camp. Joel McCrea, Barry Sullivan, and James Whitmore are Confederate prisoners who escape in early 1865. In effecting their escape they fall into the hands of a rebel guerrilla leader played by Jeff Corey.
Being guerrillas these guys don't play by the rules. The trio either goes west to Santa Fe to act as Judas goats and lead a gold train into ambush or die right there. Even the always honorable Joel McCrea sees he has no options here.
The rest of the story is how the conflicts internal and external are resolved and how the three escaped prisoners decide what course they have to take. Oh, and Joel McCrea meets up with Arlene Dahl and she kind of helps him along in the decision process.
The movies never had a more honorable or stalwart hero than Joel McCrea. And if you've seen any of his films, fans will know that whatever he does it will be the honorable thing. It's a tribute to McCrea that if he insisted on always being the stalwart hero, he had the talent and personality to carry it off.
It's familiar ground for Joel McCrea, but western fans will like the story and the gorgeous technicolor photography that captures it.
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