USA / 1967
Director: William Witney
Writer: Willard and Mary Willingham
Cast: Audie Murphy, Michael Burns, Kenneth Tobey, Laraine Stephens, Robert Brubaker, Michael Blodgett, Michael Keep, Kay Stewart, Kenneth MacDonald, Byron Morrow, Willard Willingham, Ted Gehring, James Beck
Apache Chief Cochise (Michael Keep) is on the warpath, vowing to kill every paleface in Arizona. The army, led by Colonel Reed (Byron Morrow) is anxious to gather the vulnerable settlers into the safety of a fort at Apache Wells. But, inadequately armed, the chances of surviving an Indian onslaught are slight.
Hope comes with news that a consignment of 40 rifles is being delivered to a rendezvous point. Reed’s right-hand man, cavalry captain Bruce Coburn (Audie Murphy), is sent to collect the shipment. It’s a perilous trek through Apache country, made tougher by the fact that upstanding Coburn has become increasingly unpopular since he put self-serving Corporal Bodine (Kenneth Tobey) in his place. When they eventually pick up the rifles, Bodine persuades the other men to turn on Coburn, make off with the guns and sell them to Cochise.
Thankfully, one of Bodine’s posse, Doug Mallone (Michael Burns), brother of his captain’s sweetheart, Ellen (Laraine Stephens), is racked with guilt and returns to help Coburn. Together they manage to salvage the rifles and, as Coburn single-handedly holds off Bodine and the advancing Apache hordes, Doug delivers the arms to the fort. Tooled up, Reed and his men manage to repel the Indians, and Coburn is finally reunited with Ellen.
Murphy had been one of Hollywood’s top western stars since being hijacked by Universal after he became the most decorated GI in the Second World War. He’d only appear in two more films before his death in a plane crash in 1971. In 1995, Empire magazine placed baby-faced Murphy at No. 55 in its list of sexiest film actors.