Allied Artists Blogathon being hosted by Toby at 50 Westerns From the 50s. The blogathon will be held January 29-31, 2016. I'll also be writing on the film noir LOOPHOLE (1954). Be sure to visit Toby's site for lots of interesting links to posts about Allied Artists movies!
QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS (1958) is an Allied Artists CinemaScope Western starring Steve Cochran, Diane Brewster, Leo Gordon, and Gale Robbins.
Gordon plays the legendary Civil War "raider" Quantrill as an edgy man with a hair-trigger temper, to put it mildly. Cochran is an undercover Confederate officer whose orders are to find Quantrill and get Quantrill and his men to get rid of a Union armory in Lawrence, Kansas.
The Union Army moves the arsenal out of Lawrence but Quantrill ignores orders and plans to attack the town anyway. This leaves Cochran's military man with quite a quandary: Allow Quantrill to do his evil deeds, burning houses and probably killing women and children, or blow his own cover and warn the people of Lawrence, despite the fact it's a Union town. The fact that he's smitten with Sue (Brewster), his boarding house landlady, adds to his dilemma.
QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS has a strong cast but weak material. I enjoy all four leads very much, but the 68-minute script by Polly James was fairly lackluster.
I liked the sweet romance of Cochran and Brewster, Gordon's portrayal of Quantrill as a man about one second away from spontaneous combustion, and Robbins' lively appearances as Quantrill's girl, but these were all very brief moments in a fairly dry action film. There's a lot of riding around on horseback, but not enough story and character development.
The movie had the benefit of widescreen color photography, with much of it shot outdoors by William P. Whitley, but it's strictly a "backlot and movie ranch" look, fairly dull. (Incidentally, I know I've seen the exterior of Diane Brewster's house in other movies, though I can't think of them offhand!)
The part's not much but I have a soft spot for Steve Cochran, especially when he's playing a hero or an ambiguous character such as in this film, rather than a flat-out villain.
Gordon and Brewster had appeared together as a married couple the previous year in BLACK PATCH (1957), but here their characters don't interact. Gordon's role is showy, while Brewster is simply a sweet leading lady in this one.
Robbins' scenes bring the film needed spark, but her role is all too brief. This same year Robbins would also do a fine job in the Western GUNSMOKE IN TUCSON (1958).
QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS was directed by Edward Bernds.
This film is available on DVD from the Warner Archive.