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 fr... Read allIn 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.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.
Plot sees McCrea as Will Owen, the alpha male of three Confederate prisoners who escape from Camp Benton Stockade and promptly get recruited by one of William Quantrill's Bushwhacker units. Assigned to infiltrate a Don Chaves (Novarro) run wagon train that's carrying a fortune in gold, the men must deal with Indians, each other, and the hazards that the journey throws up.
Out of MGM with some production value of note, The Outsiders rises above simplicity of story to unfurl a darn fine Oater. Narratively it has strengths, where Owen's moral conscience forms a spiky backdrop to plotting. Be it his views on the unsavoury tactics employed by Keeley's (Corey) Bushwhackers, and his place as the undercover leader leading the wagon train to doom, or the positioning of his feelings - and others around him - towards the female of the group (Dahl) and that of her teenage brother-in-law. Owen is definitely in emotional turmoil.
From an action stand point the pic doesn't short change, with Indian attacks, internal fisticuffs and a rousing chase followed by the big siege finale, all of which are delivered admirably and scored robustly by Previn. The stand-out, though, is a high energy section of film that sees the group trying to get over a river at high tide flood level and is running a current of death! These scenes are expertly constructed and are of the breath holding standard. Yet the greatest part of the piece finds the group indulging in a square dance evening, where the men are blowing away the cob-webs with hooch, while the delectable Dahl holds court right in the middle. The sexual tension is palpable, the atmosphere electric, and as it happens, it forms a key part of proceedings.
Tech credits are high as well, led by the the excellent capturing of the Utah locations by Schoenbaum, this is most pleasing on the eyes. Technicolor is perfect for such an airy Oater, the primary colours positively booming on the screen (check out the water and fire shots), while Dahl was made for such colour lenses. The aforementioned square dance sequences showcase her sexual beauty, with flaming red hair and glorious emerald green shoes acting as glorious crowns to a most appetising filling.
Yes the story is soft, and anyone jaded by the formula of many 1950s Westerns should probably avoid this one - with most almost certainly knowing how it's going to pan out anyway. But there's so much to like here for me to suggest it's an undervalued pic and worth seeking out. Especially for McCrea and Dahl fans. 7/10
- Jul 14, 2017