War-hero turned actor, Audie Murphy, rode with Quantrill’s men in KANSAS RAIDERS/’50, one of his first Westerns; here, in one of his last, he’s re-upped with the renegade gang of Civil War Southern sympathizers. The earlier film had Brian Donlevy, Tony Curtis, Richard Arlen, Dewey Martin & Richard Egan in support; the best this can offer is Buster (‘Flash Gordon’) Crabbe in his last (pre-Camp) credit. Still, for a little B-pic, it’s not half bad. This time around, Murphy gets caught in a raid that kills Quantrill and is serving hard labor when he’s ‘turned’ by Crabbe’s Arizona Raider. Together, they fake an escape so Murphy can infiltrate what’s left of his old gang. The pinch-penny budget doesn’t cramp things too much out on location and the serviceable acting style is fine. But the best thing in here may be a bit of sweet revenge from some justifiably savage Native Americans. When they ride off with a bad guy, you may want to give a cheer. And even Buster Crabbe comes off pretty well. The third act complications don’t exactly reach their potential, but you can pretty much fill in the missing pieces. What you can’t do is erase the full-reel lecture on Quantrill & his raiders that starts the film. (Well, you could toggle to the next film chapter.) What dunderhead Columbia Studios’ exec tacked this on? Especially since right after this deadening prologue, another narrator comes on to tell us the same damn stuff.
DOUBLE-BILL: As mentioned, you can catch a younger Murphy with Quantrill in KANSAS RAIDERS. He plays a fresh-faced Jesse James in it, a role he returned to in his last film, A TIME FOR DYING/’69, but without the fresh face.