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STEVE COCHRAN AND LEO GORDON IN 'QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS'

Title: QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS Year: 1957 Rating: ***1/2

Underrated WHITE HEAT actor Steve Cochran plays a smooth gent sent to trick a small town of Northerners, unaware they're soon to be attacked by the titular gang of redneck roughnecks: mercenary thugs (albeit celebrated in a handful of films and literature) that were useful cutthroats for the Rebels against the Yankees...

Peacetime scoundrels can make reliable warriors, and at the helm here is tough guy character actor Leo Gordon...  But with such a square-jawed, muscular mug and formidable disposition equaling some of the great all-time celluloid heavies, he doesn't get enough scenes for his vicious persona to be exploited like it should be...

Leo Gordon as Quantrill in QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS

For the most part he sits behind a desk and frowns at orders given by Cochran's double-agent, Wes, sent  to purchase horses in order to continuously meet with Quantrill in secret, a few miles off from the small town while trying hard not to romance (or be romanced by) lovely dream girl Diane Brewster, who runs a boarding house with her little brother i.e. the token starry eyed ten-year-old...

Both are crazy about the swarthy stranger who seems on the level, like Gordon's Quantrill was a year earlier (with his own fake name) and mentioned of the soap operatic dialogue by a sermonizing judge...

Steve Cochran and Gale Robbins in QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS

Between the melodrama, random fight sequences consist mostly of noisy shootouts as a wide-shot camera points at the action, not allowing the viewer to get inside the characters plight...

Instead, to view the bullet-spraying gun-play bookending this programmer from the beginning, on an open range ambush when Cochran joins up with/warms up to the Yanks he plans to ruse, to the semi-suspenseful finale...

Steve Cochran in QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS with Leo Gordon

Overall, QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS is an intentionally simple, predictable time-filler/programmer, while it does have enough layers to keep the 1950's double-feature audiences awake after the A-feature they really paid for...

So for a bonafide history lesson of Americana, QUANTRILL'S is anything but a reliable source, and yet it's an intriguing character-driven Western that will only disappoint audiences who expected more of a movie they'd never even heard of.

Gale Robbins and Leo Gordon in QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS
Diane Brewster in QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS
Steve Cochran in QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS with Will Wright
Leo Gordon in QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS
Steve Cochran in QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS
Steve Cochran in QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS
Steve Cochran in QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS with Diane Brewster
Kim Charney (now a surgeon in OC California) in QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS
Steve Cochran in QUANTRILL'S RAIDERS with Diane Brewster

Steve Cochran in Quantrill's Raiders
Leo Gordon and Steve Cochran, Quantrill's Raiders
Hooker with the heart of gold/Quantrill's bitch turns to the good side, for a shot
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