Thu 21 May 2015
ARIZONA RAIDERS. Columbia Pictures, 1965. Audie Murphy, Michael Dante, Ben Cooper, Buster Crabbe, Gloria Talbott. Director: William Witney.
To enjoy Arizona Raiders, you’ll just make it past the first ten minutes or so. Then you’re free to discover that you’ll find that it’s pretty decent, if formulaic, Western. But first you’ll have to put up with an on-screen narrator breaking the fourth wall, as well as voice-over narration, all designed to provide the viewer with historical background about Quantrell’s Raiders. It’s all highly unnecessary and honestly one of the strangest things I’ve seen in a film of this nature.
But don’t let me give you the impression it’s not worth watching, because the movie has quite a bit going for it.
Directed by William Witney and shot in Technicolor and Techniscope, Arizona Raiders features Audie Murphy as Clint, a former member of Quantrell’s Raiders, now working for the Arizona Rangers. He’s tasked with rooting out the remnants of his former gang, which has holed itself up in a Yaqui village in preparation for a raid on a gold shipment.
Legendary serial film star Buster Crabbe portrays Captain Andrews, Clint’s nominal boss. With Witney at the helm, there’s plenty of action, including some beautifully choreographed fight sequences. Murphy wasn’t the greatest of Western actors, but he more than holds his own here. He certainly does appear tired and world weary, something that only adds to the film’s rather downbeat, pessimistic tone. There are a couple of particularly bloody scenes in Arizona Raiders, further delineating how much Westerns had changed since the time of Roy and Trigger.