Rio Conchos (1964) – Gordon Douglas

 

Richard Boone and Jim Brown lead the cast in the first recommendation following my screening of The Red Badge of Courage for the Great Movies – 100 Years of Film book.

Boone stars as James Lassiter, and he, Franklyn (Brown), Haven (Stuart Whitman), Rodriguez (Anthony Franciosa), and an Apache woman (Wende Wagner) are trailing a cache of stolen guns that ex-Confederate colonel, Pardee (Edmond O’Brien) who is arming the Apachees, the same tribe that killed Lassiter’s famliy, to continue his version of the Civil War.

Lassiter, was a Confederate as well, but is now driven by revenge against the Apache for the death of his family. In fact each of the group has their own motive for taking on Pardee. As he barters his way out of the military prison by agreeing to take the mission, he comes across as violent, angry and, well, crotchety, and Boone plays the ex-Confederate to the hilt.

Playing more as a western instead of a war film. The lack of camaraderie and kinship serves as an interesting dynamic for the group, ad trust isn’t given, nor earned as the group heads towards Pardee, leaving violence and bodies behind them, with Haven trying to maintain command of the mission.

O’Brien’s Pardee seems as maniacal as a classic Bond villain, building a mansion for himself in the midst of the wilds, with his Apachee and Confederate army growing and serving around him. He has a plan for vanquishing the U.S. Army and taking over the nation, return the glory of the south.

rio

Things, of course, don’t go to plan for either side, and our would-be heroes have their plans foiled but will somehow find a way to stop Pardee before the film draws to a close.

With some gorgeous locations, and some rather tough, brutal sequences, considering the time it was shot, this one is very entertaining, though, despite some of the characters’ stories, it’s tough to empathize with any of them, even with Jerry Goldsmith’s rousing score.

This was one of those films that I had never heard of, nor the original novel by Clair Huffaker on which the movie is based. I was suitably entertained by it, when it graced my screen. It’s fairly tightly paced, well-acted and has some fun sequences, though, of course, nowadays, the action sequences would be a louder, longer, more intricate…

That being said the horse-dragging sequence is pretty brutal, as are the betrayals, twists, and confrontations the characters find themselves experiencing.

I was plenty surprised by this one, and loved that the film seemed full of anti-heroes, and none of them are necessarily what you I expected.

It will be interesting to see if I enjoy the other recommendations as much as this one. It’s always nice to have a film you’re not aware of prove to be as enjoyable as it is.

boone

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