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
Turner Classic Movies rebroadcast "The Outriders" on May 21, 2005, with some improvements. TCM added closed captions and also seems to have transferred the film to a high definition master, so that the Technicolor looks very smooth. The lack of film grain has a down side during some scenes when print damage is apparent, such as the scratches on the film negative that show up in a few scenes, scratches that are more jarring due to how good most of the print looks. This Western stands head and shoulders over most Westerns released in the past 20 years. Just look at the supporting actors: James Whitmore, Barry Sullivan, Ramon Novarro and, of course, Jeff Corey as the very reasonable, psychopathic Southern raider Keeley. In 1950, MGM still had the production staff and budgets to make its movies look great. The matte effects by Arnold Gillespie at the start, showing old Santa Fe, are as well done as any today. During action scenes, MGM did not skimp on stunt extras. There is one scene near the start, as Joel McCrea and the three other riders with him are riding on top of a ridge, the sun setting behind them. Even if the director lifted the look of the scene from a similar scene in the black and white Winchester '73, this Technicolor scene, only a few seconds long, must have been tough to get right. That attention to quality is consistent throughout this movie. "The Outriders" is an example of what the old Hollywood studios did best: turning out technically well made, interesting movies by the dozens each year. In my minority view, newer popular Westerns such as "Silverado" and "The Unforgiven" don't hold a candle to "The Outriders."
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