Late in the Civil War, three Confederate soldiers escape from a Union prison camp in Missouri. They soon fall into the hands of pro-Confederate raiders, who force them to act as "outriders" (escorts) for a civilian wagon train that will be secretly transporting Union gold from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to St. Louis, Missouri. The three men are to lead the wagons into a raider trap in Missouri, but one of them starts to have misgivings.... Written by
We all project ourselves into the books we read and films we see, so the more closer to our lives the entertainment vehicle is, the greater the experience and enjoyment. So I suppose this film would have just been another oater for me but for that one small detail.
The Outriders was a typical late '40s western movie, so the only reason I decided to watch it was that I like Joel McRea. Otherwise I might have passed on this 55 year old sage brush saga. But once it started, the female lead, Arlene Dahl, caught my eye.
Ms. Dahl could have been just another late 1940s blonde, blue eyed movie star in another late 1940s oater except for two things. first, she looked uncannily like my high school sweetheart (I know, everyone has an old high school sweetheart-go watch American Graffiti) but she really did look like her. And secondly, she spoke softly and moved, glided across the stage, just like *** did.
Then the story line somewhat mirrored the relationship we had. A tough and dangerous outlaw meets a sweet, honest and stunning beauty. I let myself slip into the fantasy of this movie figuring it would be a nice bit of nostalgic escapism. but then came the dance scene during the wagon train's stop on its overland journey.
Head honcho Will Owens (McRea) tells Jen Gort (Ms. Dahl) to stay in the wagon to avoid getting the trail hands stirred up, but when the men break out fiddles and guitars and start singing around the camp fire, she comes out, dressed to the nines with her dancing shoes. Jen glides effortlessly across the camera's view and dances with all the men, politely and dignified, yet strikingly alluring and all woman.
But what touched me was when she told Will Owens "you wanted me the most". No modern day tawdriness; nor erotic film scene with naked, sweating bodies could convey the message any clearer than her voice, her eyes and those words. It took me back.
This film may just be another fast paced western to most, but to me it is **** and me. I miss her.
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