APACHE RIFLES (director: William Witney; screenwriters: Charles B. Smith/story by Kenneth Gamet & Richard Schayer; cinematographer: Archie R. Dalzell; editor: Grant Whytock; music: Richard LaSalle; cast: Audie Murphy (Capt. Jeff Stanton), Michael Dante (Red Hawk), Linda Lawson (Dawn Gillis), L. Q. Jones (Mike Greer), Ken Lynch (Hodges), Joseph Vitale (Victorio), John Archer (Col. Perry), Eugene Iglesias (Cpl. Ramirez), Robert Brubaker (Sgt. Cobb), Charles Watts (Owens), Howard Wright (Thompson, Indian Agent), Robert Karnes (Sheriff), Hugh Sanders (Arizona Delegate); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Grant Whytock; VCI Entertainment; 1964)
“The unconvincing plodding conclusion and heavy-handed plot line handicaps the exciting action sequences.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Veteran B-movie filmmaker William Witney(“Panama Sal”/”The Bonnie Parker Story”/”Paratroop Command”), known as an action director and Roy Roger’s favorite director, gets as much tension out of the emotional Cowboy and Indian western as he could but lets the pic slide off course with a tepid love story and muddled contradictory messages about peace. It’s based on the story by Kenneth Gamet & Richard Schayer, and is unevenly written by Charles B. Smith. The unconvincing plodding conclusion and heavy-handed plot line handicaps the exciting action sequences.
Famed stalwart Indian fighter Capt. Jeff Stanton (Audie Murphy), in 1879, is sent to the Arizona Territory to deliver a message from General Crook to the renegade chief of the Mescalero Apaches, Victorio (Joseph Vitale), to lead his tribe back to the reservation and keep the peace treaty and the army will keep the greedy miners from invading the Indian land for gold. After a fierce fight with a raiding party led by the chief’s missionary school educated son Red Hawk (Michael Dante), the Captain succeeds in his mission. Though an Indian hater, the Captain’s heart melts when he meets Christian missionary Dawn Gillis (Linda Lawson). She’s half-white and half-Comanche, and is also courted by Red Hawk.
The peace is soon broken when miners discover gold and won’t leave the Indian land. Led by the oily general store owner Owens (Charles Watts) and his henchmen Greer (L. Q. Jones) and Hodges (Ken Lynch), they kill the Indian agent (Howard Wright) with an arrow in order to frame the Apaches just as the Captain because of political pressure in Washington from the Arizona delegate is relieved of his command by Col. Perry (John Archer). This action starts a bloody war. It’s now up to the honorable Captain to stop the venal miners, prove to the Colonel that it was Greer who killed the white Indian agent, to once again get the Apaches to agree to a peace treaty and to win the heart of Dawn by showing he has lost his hatred for Indians.
Audie proves he’s both a skilled soldier and a man of peace, as he accomplishes all his aims and even lives after taking a spear in his chest from Red Hawk. As for the Apaches, at the end of the day they smile approvingly that they are being relocated to another reservation in Texas (probably thinking that it’s better than going to Florida or maybe the white actors playing Indians were smiling because the white writers thought they came up with a Solomon like resolution to the clash between the whites and the Native Americans).
REVIEWED ON 9/15/2010 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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