Two Army officers, an alcoholic ex-Confederate soldier and a womanizing Mexican travel to Mexico on a secret mission to prevent a megalomaniacal ex-Confederate colonel from selling a cache of stolen rifles to a band of murderous Apaches.


Richard Boone is Apache hating Major Jim Lassiter, late of the confederacy, who – with a furtive Mexican companion Rodriquiz (Tony Franciso) – is seconded into a Yankee undercover operation to find out where 2000 repeating rifles have disappeared to. Under the leadership of Captain Haven (Stuart Whitman) and his black Sgt.Franklyn (Jim Brown in his first movie appearance) Lassiter learns that his old Confederate commanding officer – the demented Colonel Theron Pardee (Edmond O’Brien) who is holed up on the Rio Conchos – is in possession of the guns and plans to arm the Apaches so as to reignite the Civil War. The mission is to thwart the Colonel’s intentions and destroy the guns. In a marvellous set piece the picture ends literally in an explosive finale as the cache of arms goes up in a mushroom of smoke.

Performances are generally good throughout. Whitman is fine in the lead in what is probably his best movie. But Richard Boone is a tad excessive in his playing. His Lassiter character is over-stylized even to the point where some of his scenes are rendered weak and unconvincing. However the acting honours has to go to Tony Franciosa in one of the best roles he ever had.One of the refreshing things about this film is that there is no romantic interest to speak of. The action scenes are very exciting and well handled, the plot speeds along wonderfully, the actors are all very good, and there are some good rugged locations. The scene of the final confrontation is especially spectacular, with Pardee’s half-completed grand mansion towering above the valley. The only real quibble is the awful ending.

The DVD comes with a trailer and that’s about it. The A/V Quality is far superior the old Region 2 disc that I used to have, but I don’t have an American release to compare discs. Still, it’s pretty impressive for a film that has been relegated to the dustbins of Western fans’ memories. One thing I didn’t realize was how wide the aspect ratio was, so I guess I never saw it properly framed. Thanks to Shout Factory for fixing that and releasing a superb double-feature DVD.



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