This film was on TELEVISION on TCM in the UK yesterday Sunday 20th November 2016 – and it has actually been on a few times as is the case with TCM but I welcome that – it gives you more than one chance to view. The Two male stars are Dan Duryea and Jeff Richards THE MARAUDERS (1955)
Jeff Richards had appeared as Benjamin in SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS (1954). For that matter, leading lady Jarma Lewis also had a scene in this famous musical.” She also appeared as one of Frank Sinatra’s girlfriends in THE TENDER TRAP (1955), and she and Richards co-starred in another film, IT’S A DOG’S LIFE (1955).
Richards plays Corey Everett, a desert homesteader whose newly dug well makes his property highly desired by powerful ranch owner John Rutherford (Harry Shannon). Rutherford, his son (John Hudson), and his consumptive bookkeeper Avery (Duryea), along with a bunch of mercenaries headed by the one-armed “Hook” (Keenan Wynn), plan to drive Corey out with guns blazing. Another homesteader (James Anderson), who’s giving up and heading east, stumbles onto Corey’s property, along with his wife Hannah (Lewis) and their son (David Kasday), just as the invaders launch their first skirmish. Although the man initially seems to be a good sort, helping Corey in the fight, it turns out he’s the friendly con man type, and as soon as he can he runs off to Rutherford’s camp to try to strike a deal for safe passage for his family — and is promptly killed for his trouble by the psychotic Avery.
The siege set up is made interesting by the location, which is a small ranch with a water well backed up against a mountain, and the fact that it will ultimately be one man, one woman and one child against a whole gang. As the gang come to be led by Duryea’s clearly unhinged Avery, they find Everett a most resourceful foe. With cunning tactics of war, including the manufacture of a grenade launcher, there’s a fascinating battle between brains and brawn.
Extra bite comes from the respective character dynamics at work in the two camps. In the Everett ranch a turn of events offers up a neat twist that scores high for dramatic impact, while in the Avery camp his General Bastardo/Napolean Complex has the men under his charge thirsting for his blood.
Sawtell provides a dramatic musical score and the Mecca, California locale is well used by Mayer and Marzorati for claustrophobic and sweaty peril purpose. Characterisations are colourful, especially Duryea on overdrive villainy and Wynn as the hook handed second in command who finds himself caught between loyalty and fear.
It’s classic B Western stuff and firmly of interest to fans of such productions.MARAUDERS was directed by Gerald Mayer , nephew of Louis B. Mayer. It was filmed by Harold Marzorati, who had a fairly short career but had a good Stewart Granger Western, GUN GLORY (1957), among his credits.