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  • Kansas Raiders is directed by Ray Enright and written by Robert Richards. It stars Audie Murphy, Brian Donlevy, Marguerite Chapman, James Best, Scott Brady and Tony Curtis. A Technicolor production, music is by Milton Rosen and cinematography by Irving Glassberg. Plot has it that the James and Younger Brothers along with Kit Dalton, join Quantrill's Raiders after witnessing at first hand some Redleg atrocities. However, after believing they would be fighting soldiers for the war effort, the men find themselves participating in equally worse war crimes - something that deeply affects the young Jesse James.

    OK, it's very fanciful in the telling of a bitter and sad period of American history. Facts of the period and the characters are jettisoned in favour of making an exciting 1950s Oater. Any hope of a depth strewn historical take on William Quantrill's Raiders will only lead to disappointment - something that is all too evident with many of the venomous reviews of the film out in internet world. Yet judged on its own unfussy entertainment terms, then the film scores high for the casual Western fan as shoot-outs, knife fights and stand-offs ensure things always stay perky.

    The ominous black flag of Quantrill.

    On narrative terms pic provides enough of an edge to make its point, for we are left in no doubt about the "atrocity exhibition" dealt out by Quantrill's Raiders, there's also a neat thread within about the corruption of youth. Yes, for sure this be a picture low on accuracy, but crucially it doesn't soft soap the subject to hand. This is a 1950s production after all and the makers at least manage to leave us in no doubt about the nature of the crimes committed by certain factions in the Civil War. In fact, a couple of scenes really leave indelible images, and from an action viewpoint the "sacking of Lawrence" is excellent in construction and the impact that it garners.

    Production wise there's good value on show, Glassberg's Technicolor photography is gorgeous, and not just for the Garner Valley and Kanab locations, but also for bringing out the quality of the set decoration (Russell A. Gausman/Ruby R. Levitt) and Bill Thomas' costuming. Cast are fine without pulling up any trees, where Donlevy is clearly the class act on show, but here as Quantrill he gets by on presence alone, the absence of outright character nastiness is sorely felt. The latter of which, however, is provided by the solid Brady as Bill Anderson. Murphy as young Jesse James has youthful exuberance and bravado down pat, while Curtis as Kit Dalton is enjoyable in amongst the five group dynamic.

    Marguerite Chapman (Coroner Creek) as Kate Clarke (Quantrill's girl) has the tough task of playing the sole female in the film, and although she's well older than the character in real life (and coming off as a right cradle snatcher due to the writer's artistic licence), she does do a nice line as a sexy and wise older woman for the scenes she shares with Murphy's baby faced Jesse James. All told, historical fudging aside, this is a fine Oater that began the decade on a high for Audie's rewarding assault on the Western genre. 7/10
  • "Kansas Raiders" was another of those fast moving little 80 minute westerns turned out by Universal. As was their custom, they liked to cast many of their up and coming young actors in various roles. This one is no exception.

    The story takes place during the Civil War where five young riders, Jesse James (Audie Murphy), Frank James (Richard Long), Kit Dalton (Tony Curtis), Cole Younger (James Best) and James Younger (Dewey Martin), are looking to join up with Quantrill's Raiders.

    They ride into Quanrill's camp and enlist in his service. Quantrill (Brian Donlevy) takes a shine to young Jesse, who in turn has an eye for Quantrill's woman, Kate Clarke (Margeurite Chapman). After Jesse kills Tate (David Wolfe), one of Quantrill's lieutenants in a knife fight, he is elevated to Tate's position. Jesse learns that Quantrill's other lieutenant, the brutal "Bloody Bill" Anderson (Scott Brady) kills without provocation.

    The boys go on raids with the Raiders and Jesse sees the senseless brutality and killing of innocent people. He begins to have second thoughts. After the pillaging of Lawrence Kansas, the gang is pursued relentlessly and they decide to desert Quantrill. However Jesse and the boys remain loyal until.........................................

    Murphy, Curtis, Brady, Long, Best and Martin all went on to varying degrees of success in the coming years. Donlevy had a long and successful career playing classy villains. Chapman here, looks too old for the boyish looking Murphy. This was Murphy's second film and he carries most of the picture. Richard Arlen and a young Richard Egan also appear as Union cavalry officers.

    Director Ray Enright keeps the story moving and the raid sequences are particularly well done. The "glorious" Technicolor photography is equally stunning.

    Audie Murphy, the most decorated US soldier in WWII, would make a career out of these fast paced little oaters over the next 15 years.
  • What are you going to do when you are a national hero; the most decorated combat soldier of WWII? Among his 33 awards was the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award for bravery that a soldier can receive. In addition, he was also decorated for bravery by the governments of France and Belgium, and was credited with killing over 240 German soldiers and wounding and capturing many more.

    Well, I guess you go kill out in the Ole West, and that is JustWhat Audie Murphy did. This is one of his early efforts and it really is not a bad one. He plays Jesse James who, along with his brother Frank, the Younger brothers and Kit Dalton join Quantrille's Raiders until they realize just what he was and become sick of the whole thing.

    Tony Curtis is here - I think it may have been the second film he did.

    A good shoot 'em up about a sordid chapter of our history.
  • Interesting and colorful film dealing with the bloody Bushwackers , including the Lawrence massacre . Concerning Jesse , Frank James brothers : Audie Murphy , Richard Long , Younger brothers, Cole and James : James Best , Dewey Martin and Dalton: Tony Curtis . They are young men who from Missouri go Kansas to join the Bushwackers militia commanded by William Clarke Quantrill, Brian Donlevy , and Bill Anderson , Scott Brady .They carry out a violent raid on the pro-Union town of Lawrence , Kansas. But Jesse is disillusionated with Quantrill guerrilla executing violent looting and slaughters against innocent civilians. The historic Lawrence Kansas raid ...aflame again in all its fury !

    Good Western packs thrills , action , fights and spectacular raids . Brawling , sprawling , almost primitive action in which our protagonist joins the rough band of Bushwackers , but things go wrong when Quantrill and Anderson execute their razzias at whatever means by killing and rampaging , carrying out war crimes . Features impressive as well as moving attack scenes punctuated by great action scenes and thrilling go riding . Audie Murphy gives an acceptable acting as the brave historical figure Jesse James who seeks both , justice and vengeance against Union soldiers who encroached his ranch and killed family . Murphy won more than 10 medals , being the most decorated American soldier , including Congressional Medal of Honor and he was prized by 5 decorative medals by France and Belgium , post-WWII. Murphy starred a great number of Westerns as The kid from Texas , Cimarron kid , Gun point , Night passage , The gunrunners , Posse from hell , Gunfight at Comanche , Rifles Apaches , The unforgiven, Legend of Sam Ward , Whispering Smith , 40 guns at Apache pass , Texas Kid . Here Rebel Murphy falls under the spell of the Southern Major Quantrill very good played by veteran Brian Donlevy , later on , being developed a love triangle among Audie Murphy , Marguerite Chapman and Brian Donlevy .Along with an awesome support cast such as : Scott Brady as Bill Anderson, Tony Curtis as Dalton, Richard Long , Dewey Martin, James Best , Kellogg , George Chandler , Richard Arlen and a minor role by Richard Egan as First Lieutenant, among others.

    It contains a colorful and brilliant cinematography by Irving Glassberg , in Universal International Pictures style . As well as evocative and stirring musical score by Milton Rosen . The motion picture was well directed by Ray Enright . He was a western expert , as he directed a lot of Westerns , the first film he made was Trackers by the police , starring Rin Tin Tin , he subsequently directed Bad Men of Missouri, Men of Texas , The spoilers , Sin town, Alburquerque, Montana , Return of the bad Men , South of St Louis , Flaming Father , among others. Rating 7 out 10 western, better than average . Well worth seeing.

    The flick based on real deeds , these are the following ones : The Lawrence Massacre, was a rebel guerrilla attack during the U.S. Civil War by Quantrill's Raiders, led by William Clarke Quantrill, on the pro-Union town of Lawrence, Kansas. The attack on August 21, 1863, targeted Lawrence due to the town's long support of abolition and its reputation as a center for Jayhawkers and Redlegs, which were free-state militia and vigilante groups known for attacking and destroying farms and plantations in Missouri's pro-slavery western counties .By 1863, Kansas had long been the center of strife and warfare over the admission of slave versus free states. In the summer of 1856, the first sacking of Lawrence sparked a guerrilla war in Kansas that lasted for months. John Brown might be the best known participant, but numerous groups fought for each side in Bleeding Kansas.By the beginning of the American Civil War, Lawrence, Kansas, was already a target for pro-slavery ire, having been seen as the anti-slavery stronghold in the state and more importantly, a staging area for Union and Jayhawker incursions into Missouri. Initially the town and surrounding area were extremely vigilant and reacted strongly to any rumors that enemy forces might be advancing on the town. However by the summer of 1863, as none of the threats had materialized, citizen fears had declined and defense preparations were relaxed.Quantrill himself said his motivation for the attack was, "To plunder, and destroy the town in retaliation for Osceola. That was a reference to the Union's attack on Osceola, Missouri in September 1861, led by Senator James H. Lane.The attack was the product of careful planning. Quantrill had been able to gain the confidence of many of the leaders of independent Bushwhacker groups, and chose the day and time of the attack well in advance. The different groups of Missouri riders approached Lawrence from the east in several independent columns, and converged with well-timed precision in the final miles before Lawrence during the pre-dawn hours of the chosen day. Many of the men had been riding for over 24 hours to make the rendezvous and had lashed themselves to their saddles to keep riding if they fell asleep. Almost all were armed with multiple six-shot revolvers.Lawrence in ruins as illustrated in Harper's WeeklyBetween three and four hundred riders arrived at the summit of Mount Oread, then descended on Lawrence in a fury. Over four hours, the raiders pillaged and set fire to the town and killed most of its male population. Quantrill's men burned to the ground a quarter of the buildings in Lawrence, including all but two businesses. They looted most of the banks and stores and killed between 185 and 200 men and boys .
  • Kansas Raiders was an opportunity for Universal-International to display some of its young contract players of the time to see who might have some career potential. In terms of career longevity all of them had varying degrees of success.

    With Audie Murphy as young Jesse James and Richard Long as brother Frank with Tony Curtis as Kit Dalton and James Best and Dewey Martin as the Younger Brothers we see them all as young guns during the Civil War from Missouri all joining up with William Quantrill to raid, plunder, and pillage the west.

    Quantrill has never really gotten a revisionist view from either history or Hollywood. He's a murdering skunk who's using the Civil War as cover for what he would be doing in civilian life anyway. But he's probably seen in the best Hollywood light possible in this film.

    Brian Donlevy in this very confused story is as bad as they come, but he does take a kind of fatherly interest in all these young men who've come to join up with him. That's the problem with Kansas Raiders, Quantrill's character is so badly written you can't understand why all those young potential outlaws see in him.

    Definitely for fans of the above named players only.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Jesse James(Audie Murphy)joins Quantrill's raiders during the Civil War. Another Hollywood white-washing of James and historical fact. After all it is a movie. James and his brother Frank(Richard Long)along with a couple of Youngers, Cole(James Best)and James(Dewey Martin)join Qauntrill(Brian Donlevy)and his marauders in believe of saving the Confederacy by sacking Kansas. Lawrence Kansas is burned to the ground after the bank is robbed and citizens massacred. Jesse soon is sickened by the ruthless bloodshed and discovers that Quantrill has lost favor of Robert E. Lee and is nothing more than a demanding mercenary.

    The scenery is beautiful in spite of being filmed in Utah; and there is no way in hell that Utah landscape can be mistaken for Kansas. Other stars of note: Scott Brady, Tony Curtis, Marguerite Chapman and Richard Egan. Typical formula western that is really worth watching.
  • I would have liked to have given Kansas Raiders a slightly higher rating but for the corny script. At no time could I imagine Jesse James, as played by the legendary Audie Murphy, as having a conscience. As I understand it, James was a cold blooded individual, where here, Murphy keeps having twinges of sympathy and romantic notions. Hollywood at it's most watered down. On the up side, it's beautifully shot with some rousing and quite brutal raids on the North by Quantrill's ragbag of followers from the South, during the American Civil War. There's a nice performance by Brian Donlevy as Quantrill and on looking at the cast as the movie starts, was quite taken by seeing Tony Curtis listed as the fifth name, here playing Kit Dalton, one of Murphy's pals. Other character actors of some fame are featured include Richard Long and James Best, and two actors who went on to have some measure of fame as leading men, Scott Brady and Richard Egan. Marguerite Chapman is the leading lady, although I've never heard of her before, and average for the period. I can always watch Murphy, who always underplays with an air of authority, and I think a better actor than some gave him credit for.
  • Kansas Raiders is a neat little film, with, one suspects, a higher budget than most Audie Murphy westerns. An interesting cast (I didn't realise Kit Dalton was from Da Bronx) and an ambitious and ambiguous premise make this a worthwhile way of passing the time.
  • Frank and Jesse James, along with the Younger brothers and their pal Kit Dalton join Colonel Quantrill's guerrillas in order to fight the Union, but soon realize they've joined an army of bloodthirsty murderers.

    This colorful studio B-picture is a decent enough showcase for war-hero Audie Murphy playing a teen-aged Jesse, as well as up-and-comers Tony Curtis and James Best, who aren't given enough to do.

    As William Quantrill, Brian Donlevey gives the film's most interesting performance, portraying the rebel leader as cold, calculated, and quite mundane, all at the same time! Murphy's strange attraction to and utter revulsion for him make up most of the film's conflict.

    One thing that disappoints though, is the throwaway nature of Scott Brady's character. Brady was always a pretty good character actor and a pretty mean heavy. Here, he leaves the picture way too early, long before the dramatic possibilities of his character are exhausted.

    Finally, during the sacking of Lawrence, Kansas, the manager of the bank being robbed by the James gang rushes at Murphy exclaiming, "You little sh...!" before being interrupted. Was he going to say what I thought he was going to say? Did the actor's ad-libbing almost go too far?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Any of Universal's Audie Murphy westerns are well worth watching, and Kansas Raiders is no exception. Murphy plays Jesse James who rides with his brother and the Dalton boys to join up with Quantrill -- to continue the war in the Midwest.

    In time Jesse and the boys will become disillusioned with Quantrill and his ways (perhaps not any slower than Americans with buyer's remorse in 2010 not wanting the USA as a socialist state). But loyalty dies hard, and Quantrill will hold power over Jesse for a long time.

    One ought not take the "history" in movies like this too seriously. The #1 and #2 targets of Hollywood writers who never read a history book are Senator Joseph McCarthy and General Quantrill. Instead they simply watch other old movies and re-state all the lies. Quantrill's mission is always restated in terms of blood and gore. Oh, right! Try this: If you want senseless killing try reading about Genersal Grant at Cold Harbor, Virginia. He didn't kill many Confederates, but killed 2000 of his own men by refusing them medical attention after their failed battle. Try Google.

    Kansas Raiders is worth watching again every few years. 8/10
  • Honestly, I didn't get past the opening scene of the movie. Jessie and Frank James, the Younger Brothers and one of the Daltons are on a mountain side surrounded by tall pine trees looking down in the valley at the town of Lawrence, Kansas. Evidently whoever made this movie has never been to Kansas. Can you spell F-L-A-T? Oh, there are some nice little hills covered with deciduous trees, but not mountains and tall pines. After that scene, the movie lost all its credibility so far as I was concerned. I can't stomach movies based on the lives of real people that stray so far from the facts. The "heroes" of this film were in reality murdering outlaw bank robbers that would today be called "sociopaths." They were not "heroes" in any sense of the word.
  • I caught this movie on AMC's Saturday Morning Western. AMC usually shows decent movies, but this one was awful. Definitely not one of Audie Murphy's best. I understand that Audie was not originally an actor, but his acting was wooden and virtually emotionless. You would think that after 5 movies under his belt Audie would have been better.

    The movie centers around Jesse James and his gang traveling to Kansas to join Quantrill and his raiders. Jesse wants to join the raiders, in part, in order to get revenge on the Yankee soldiers that destroyed his home, maimed his mother and hung his father. While on their way to find Quantrill the James/Younger gang are almost hanged as spies by the Red Legs, Union guerrillas. Once the gang finds Quantrill, they request to join.

    First, Jesse James is very naive. In fact he passes over naive and into very, very stupid. The gang arrives just in time for Quantrill to pass judgment on some prisoners. Quantrill has Union POWs shot as spies. Next Quantrill's henchmen shoot and kill a man whose wife and baby were gunned down in one of Quantrill's raids. Innocent people being shot? Why doesn't this bother Jesse James? The James/Youngers join the Raiders and go on their first raid. The Raiders proceed to butcher all the people in the town. Jesse is dismayed, but not too much as soon goes on another raid. On the second raid, Jesse only agrees to go when Quantrill promises that only soldiers would be attacked. What happened next? The Raiders kill more civilians. When will Jesse get at clue? The Raiders are chased off by the Union Army. Eventually, Quantrill is blinded in a gunfight and the gang escapes with Quantrill in tow. The gang eventually hides out in a burned out farmhouse. The gang pities Quantill now that he blind. But why? The man was a thief, scoundrel and killer in uniform. It was very hard for me to find any sympathy for Quantrill. But the idiots of the gang followed him to the end.

    Eventually the Union Army shows up at the farmhouse at night. There is a $10,000 reward for the kill or capture of Quantrill. The Union Army gives the gang until dawn to surrender Quantrill. Why? I would have just burned the farmhouse down. But the Union officer even says that he doesn't want the gang, only Quantrill. Jesse comes up with the idea for the gang to sneak out the back of the farmhouse. Why wasn't the farmhouse surrounded? When only Quantrill and Jesse remain, Quantrill orders Jesse to leave. But Jesse refuses to leave without Quantrill. Quantrill tricks Jesse and shoves him out the back door. Quantrill then stumbles his way out the front door into the waiting arms of the Union Army. Quantrill is shot down like the dog he is. Jesse and the gang get away and become legends.

    What bothers me is the ending narration that states the gang became great because of the association with Quantrill. How utterly stupid. Quantrill was an evil person and the gang continued to follow blindly. I was very happy when this trash was finally over.
  • Because this film was seriously a laughable film, even when it was made. Don't be fooled into thinking people of those times were naive enough to believe the hogwash. People knew History much better than, and there was a lot less History to know.

    So, we get that out of the way. This isn't a think piece. It is one of the original farces, with all the famous names together. Just be glad the producers didn't jump the time barrier and bring in Davy Crockett.

    The film is obviously what "Ride With the Devil" was inspired by, although "Ride With the Devil" is undeniably (I dare say) a superior film on every level, even for those of us who like shoot em ups.

    Young Southerners are lured into Quantrill's band and learn how vicious he and his fanatics are. One of the problems with Kansas Raiders is that the Youngers and Jameses were psychotic killers, too. Making them heroes is like making a hero out of O J Simpson or Charles Manson.

    But we could go on about that. There is adequate action and adventure. The hero isn't exactly likable, though Frank James is. It is usual for films to depict Jesse as the hot head who gets killed, and Frank as level headed. This is poetic license, and few people have problems with this.

    Certainly a lot of garbage if taken seriously, but I give it a 3 because it is good for light hearted fare, but I recommend an R rating for this, while I'd give "Ride For the Devil" a G rating, because of the misinformation and the horrible morality of making Jesse James a hero.

    Finally, watching this film will really make you appreciate the quality of "Ride With the Devil", if you already don't appreciate it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Oh boy, I really wanted to like this film, but as the story progressed it just got more and more unbelievable as major plot holes kept creeping into the story taking away any sense of credibility. I'm not disputing the historical accuracy of Jesse James riding with Quantrill's Raiders during the Civil War, in fact, at the start of the war, he would only have been about fourteen. So all those references to the boys being just kids when they first entered Quantrill's camp were more than justified.

    Here's where the problems start. Quantrill's (Brian Donlevy) third in command is a fellow named Tate, later revealed to be a Union plant. So why would Tate accept Jesse James' (Audie Murphy) challenge to a handkerchief fight with Bowie knives, putting his own life at risk above the call to duty? That one just doesn't make sense. But besides that, in addition to Tate, Jesse knocks off Quantrill's number two man Anderson (Scott Brady) later in the story without repercussion.

    All throughout the film, Jesse's disillusionment with Quantrill's methods is consistently put to the test, and each time he decides to hang around. For Quantrill's part, when Jesse challenges the killing of innocent civilians during his attacks, why would Quantrill simply allow the James boys, the Youngers and Kit Dalton to just sit out one of his raiding parties?

    There's more. It doesn't take long for Quantrill's lady Kate (Marguerite Chapman) to figure out just how ruthless he and his men are. "Kill 'em and bury 'em, all in a day's work, huh?" is how she sums things up. But she sticks around too, even while trying to talk Jesse and his comrades to leave the 'Butcher's Brigade'. As the Civil War rages on and Quantrill's ranks grow thin, there's a scene when all of his men dessert, along with Kate, and Quantrill seems no more upset than if he missed breakfast.

    But here's the best! During one of Quantrill's raids near the end of the movie, he's blinded by a gunshot from Union forces. Unable to see, and with his eyes blindfolded besides, he and Jesse's men arrive at the site of an earlier raid, and he says, "It looks like we've been here before Jesse". At that point, the movie nailed it's own coffin for me.

    I have to say though that the casting for the picture at least was inspired. I always enjoy seeing James Best, this time as Cole Younger riding with Jesse's crowd. Kit Dalton was portrayed by Tony Curtis, and Scott Brady looked a bit paunchy as Bloody Bill Anderson. It's a quandary to describe my feeling for Marguerite Chapman in the role of Kate; she managed to convey her anxiety about Quantrill's villainy well enough, but didn't do anything about it.

    I'm already on record with my thoughts on Audie Murphy playing a screen heavy ("Gunsmoke", "No Name On The Bullet"). Granted he was World War II's most decorated hero, but with his baby face he doesn't convince as a desperado. In keeping with the historical accuracy of Jesse James' age during the time of this story, Murphy's casting makes some sense, but I would have preferred to see him play it with the kind of intensity Emilio Estevez used in portraying Billy the Kid in "Young Guns".
  • 1950 brings us another Audie Murphy Western, this time he plays probably the greatest historical villain known to most, Jesse James. Coming at the end of the Civil War, James, his brother Frank & others find themselves avoiding the red legs by falling under Colonel Quantrill's (a Southern military leader known for his thieving than his efforts to continue the fight against the Union army) command. Believing this person is the one to bring the war effort to a focus, James is constantly demoralized by the reality of Quantrill's goals which comes to a head when the enemy closes in. Being especially busy for the short running time, this film ultimately becomes the red headed stepchild to better James & company efforts (The Long Riders, The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid & The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) cramming a lot of incident into the narrative making it feel like the story needed to reach the finish line no matter what which is a shame since Brian Donlevy does a good job in his role.
  • Don't watch this for history, or accuracy, and you might enjoy this movie, featuring very young Audie Murphy, Tony Curtis, and Richard Long. Yes, the show mountains and sandstone canyons outside Lawrence, Kansas. But as a Saturday afternoon cowboy picture, Kansas Raiders is mighty fun. I brought home this and Black Panther to watch the same weekend; at least I watched all of Kansas Raiders!
  • AMC channel used to have a pretty good array of old movies. Apparently for what they regard as revenue purposes, ratings, etc., during daytime or prime-time hours, you're more apt to see the likes of "Jaws," "Conan...," or mediocre flicks (some from a "classic" year like 2004) - listed for the umpteenth time.

    For some reason, recently they seem to fill Saturday mornings with a lot of Audie Murphy oaters.

    Audie was a good-looking young man, and well-known as our most-decorated soldier from WW II. Regardless, Audie had the acting talents of, say, the average second- or third-lead in a 7th-grade parents' night play.

    I had never watched one of these Saturday flicks, but noticed this one when I turned-on the t.v. today, with Audie on-screen in Western attire, Tony Curtis with his Bronx accent, and identified, respectively as Jesse James and one of the Dalton boys.

    They escaped the clutches of some civilians about to lynch them, freed by a Union officer - soon to join Brian Donlevy, the notorious Quantrill, the "raider."

    I remembered something of Quantrill from a long ago school paper on the Civil War - but was curious to refresh my memory, and relate the facts to this film.

    This proved more entertaining than the film.

    At the time of the flick, Audie was 27 - in the story Jesse James would have been 16.

    Donlevy, in real life, was 49 - in the film, Quantrill would have been 24 or 25 (he DIED, after moving-on later, AT 27).

    The actress playing Quantrill's wife, Kate, was 33 at filming. In real life, at the time of the flick, she would have been 15 or 16 (Quantrill married her when she was 14 - she was a ripe old 17 when he died). There is no record of her having been at-odds with her husband's activity - or that she was romantic with Jesse (although as teens, they might have played a game of tag, or could have innocently played some "spin the bottle").

    The film also contains two segments. among its most entertaining. When Donlevy "swears-in" Audie and Tony, plus their three young cohorts, to his band - it's not unlike Errol Flynn as "Robin Hood," explaining the mission to some recruits as he adds them to his group of "merry men." And later in the film, Donlevy's brief lecture to Audie about leadership and its demands is akin to George Scott's ("Patton") conversing about the same with Karl Malden (Omar Bradley) in the A-level Oscar film. Donlevy also points-out that Kate, as a "woman," cannot understand this. This is especially humorous, again realizing the real-life men would have been in their mid-20's and late teens, respectively, and Kate 15 or 16.

    You need some facts to view in contrast to the film to enjoy it even minimally -- although there is always at least a small measure of amusement in seeing these corny old Westerns which were often made during the 30's to 50's period.
  • It is good to recall history, but it must be true to what happened and not paint antiheroes as heroes to some extent. This is what one can see in the film. The protagonists are the brothers James and Cole, Kit Dalton and the infamous Col. William Clarke Quantrill, all criminals if we stick to the story.

    So it was not better to have as protagonists those of the Union army who persecuted and finally defeated those rebels? Anyone who watches the film and doesn't know the story gets a picture of Quantrill's boundless bravery. The only positive aspect was that it was clearly demonstrated how these Confederate hordes killed every human being in their path. From a historical point of view the film is a mediocrity in my opinion, which does not teach anything positive. The value of the film is its presentation in technicolor and the actors who make up the cast.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Kansas Raiders" is supposed to be about Jesse James' early career when he purportedly rode with Quantrill's Raiders during the Civil War. Unfortunately, this film takes dramatic license to the extreme and is pure nonsense from start to finish. For openers, Audie Murphy, new to the acting profession at this point in his career, plays Jesse as a wide-eyed innocent humanitarian. Even Jesse James' most ardent supporters would be hard-pressed to place their hero in that category. As far as Murphy's wooden performance in this film, the less said the better. Historical accuracy takes a severe beating here as well. About the only thing factual about this movie is that, for a short while, Jesse and Frank and Cole Younger did fight as Confederate Guerrillas. Most well-researched history books, however, have those fellows riding around with "Bloody Bill" Anderson. In this movie, Bloody Bill (played by a young Scott Brady) is a psychopathic maniac who gets gunned down by Jesse himself. It seems that Jesse just couldn't stand for all that senseless killing and had to put an end to it. Brian Donlevy, who could play a rotten apple as well as anyone, has the thankless role of Quantrill. Besides being far too old for the part, he seems to have about as much enthusiasm for being in this film as he would shoveling snow during a blizzard. Lost in this travesty of a film are some up-and-coming actors who went on to bigger and better things including Tony Curtis, Dewey Martin, James Best, Richard Long and Richard Egan. Marguerite Chapman is also around as the love interest for Mr. Murphy, but that story line falls flat as a pancake.

    None of the actors here are at fault with this sham of a western. Hollywood Studios of the late 1940's and early 50's cranked out inexpensive and under-written films like this nearly on a weekly basis. Unfortunately for "Kansas Raiders", its cheap budget and bullet-riddled script stick out like a sore thumb to the detriment of all involved. Murphy did improve as an actor over time. For those unfamiliar with him, he was America's most decorated World War II soldier and already had a built-in audience when he decided to take up acting. Most film critics will agree that he was a far better soldier than an actor. I'm quite sure his German adversaries would second that opinion.
  • A friend of mine claims to love movies, but once, when watching a King Kong remake, as the giant gorilla crushed a ship with a giant, hairy paw, he exclaimed "A gorilla can't do that!" It seems to me that most of us do not go to films for an actual history lesson, much less for accuracy, but for a well-make story enacted with enthusiasm by a well-chosen cast, for a good soundtrack and often, brilliant color and startling scenery. I was highly entertained by Kansas Raiders, accepting it was a Hollywood western, full of well-made action sequences, nicely drawn characters and some semblance of conflict. There are so many interpretations of Jesse and Frank James in films, and so many theories about what kind of men they really were that I have stopped worrying about which one interpretation might be correct; I'll go to scholarly works of history for that, should it be necessary. This said, Kansas Raiders is an action-packed film with Audie Murphy, certainly watching in this early effort, and a magnetic performance by Brian Donlevy as Quantrill, dictator of a brutal army (I must admit I felt sorry for Donlevy the actor, as all through the film, indoors and out, riding a horse in the blazing sun on dusty trails, he wears what appears to be a heavy wool confederate uniform with gold braid and a high collar). It's fun to see Tony Curtis in his sixth Hollywood film, in a good part of his scenes, playing plaintive folk songs on a harmonica). And there's Richard Arlen, a star in his own right twenty years earlier. as a Union officer. So there's all kinds of reasons to enjoy this Western, should you wish to. If your looking for real-life in a Western movie, you can likely skip about 70 percent of the Hollywood product from the 40's and 50's. Otherwise, there's a gold mine to be discovered!
  • When judging a movie, what matters is not the plot or content – those are both better expressed in writing or on stage. The key to this medium is the *camera*, not the actors or the just the action devoid of context.

    What we have here is a complete cinematic nullity; ostensibly, it's all a staged enactment of the morality play. Not even the handkerchief fight thrills or convinces.

    Is there a single piece of good acting or dialogue? Is there a single character that has dimensions beyond a cartoon? Oh, we know there won't be any ambiguity, irony or self-examination…but is there at least anything engaging about the way the camera discovers the narrative? Is there?

    The world is waiting for someone to give this a Conradian 'Heart of Darkness' treatment(the gradual unfolding of the madness). Until then, the only intelligent treatment we have of this subject is "Outlaw Josey Wales".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Gung Ho!" director Ray Enright makes the Audie Murphy B-movie western "Kansas Raiders" look better than this Universal-International release has any right. Short, sweet, and simple, this wild and woolly saga about Jesse James' notorious exploits while riding alongside Quantrill's raiders during the Civil War exemplifies American history rewritten Hollywood style to heighten the drama. The film cover the entire time that Jesse and his band spent with Quantrill until the latter died at the hands of Union soldiers. For example, while older brother Frank is said to have participated in the Lawrence, Kansas raid, Jesse had not left his home at that point. "Winchester '73 scenarist Robert L. Richards has Jesse riding into the war earlier than he did. The cast that surrounds Murphy is a good one with Brian Donlevy cast as the infamous Quantrill, Scott Brady as 'Bloody' Bill Anderson, James Best as Cole Younger, Tony Curtis as Kit Dalton, Richard Long as Frank James, and Marguerite Chapman as Quantrill's woman.

    "Kansas Raiders" opens with an exemplary montage that encapsulates the American Civil War. The narrator sounds appropriately glum. "For more than four long, bitter years this nation was torn by civil war, the bloodiest and most destructive in our history for it was a war of neighbor against neighbor, family against family, brother against brother, flag against flag. Nor was the slaughter confined to the armies of the North and South alone. This was a war that bred an outlaw army of guerrillas masquerading under the flags of both sides, pillaging, burning and killing for private gain. The most savage and merciless among the lawless tribes whose organized violence terrorized the county were the men who marched, raided, and killed under the ominous black flag of William Clark Quantrill." No sooner do Jesse (Audie Murphy), his brother Frank (Richard Long) and their close friends Kit Dalton (Tony Curtis), Cole Younger (James Best) and James Younger (Dewey Martin) ride into war-torn Kansas than a group of paranoid Red legs organize a mob to lynch them. Our heroes survive this lynch attempt in Lawrence, Kansas, through the intervention of a fair-minded Union Army Captain (Richard Arlen) who sees that Jesse and his comrades are turned loose. Although they told their captors that they had never seen Quantrill, the boys ride in search of Quantrill and stumble upon him accidentally when they save Kate Clarke (Marguerite Chapman of "Parachute Nurse") from a runaway team of horses. Jesse believes that Quantrill is a real fighting man but Kate does her best to change that faulty impression repeatedly throughout the film's nimble 80 minutes.

    Nevertheless, Jesse stands up for Quantrill. "I don't like to stand by and see nobody blacken a man's name." Indeed, he feels this about Quantrill and he hasn't even met him. Quantrill is holding court when Jesse and company finally meet him. Quantrill executes several uniformed Union troops as spies. He takes a long, hard look at Jesse and his men and observes, "They look like good boys. Rode all the way from Missouri." Quantrill accepts them and sends one of his closest associates Rudolph Tate (David Wolfe of "Where The Sidewalk Ends") to provoke Jesse into a knife fight. They have to clench a handkerchief in their teeth and start slashing. Jesse triumphs over the bigger man and kills him. Interestingly, Jesse and company bury Tate. "Didn't look like any of his friends were going to bury him," they explain. Later, Jesse refuses to believe Kate when she assures him Quantrill ordered Tate to test him. Ironically, too, the man that Jesse kills—Tate—served as a Northern spy.

    Robert L. Richards paints a despicable portrait of Quantrill as a murderer. Nevertheless, despite the evil that Quantrill and the James/Younger gang represent, each is depicted in ways that ennoble them. Margaret Chapman serves as the film's conscience. Jesse doesn't so much fall in love with her and come under her influence. Kate has a hard time trying to convince Jesse to leave Quantrill. Indeed, Quantrill does his best to hold onto Jesse and he gets our protagonist drunk while discussing strategy. Later, Jesse doesn't like what he sees Quantrill doing and refuses to ride with him on a raid. "I came here to fight. Came here straight from my home, what's left of it three weeks ago. That was the day Frank and me came home and found the house burning and my ma with her arm shot off, my pa hanging in a tree in the front yard. It was Redlegs, Yankee guerrillas. One of 'em drunk was still there. I come here because I wanted to kill every man I could ever find that would do a thing like that. Then we went out on that raid the other day. I found we were doin' the same thing. We was murderin' people that didn't have no chance. People just like my ma and pa. Maybe that's strategy, colonel, and maybe I don't understand it, but you don't need me for what you're going to do Later, Kate confides in Jesse, "Bloodshed and murder don't mean anything to Quantrill. It's all part of a dream, a dream of playing war. But the people he kills are real people." Quatrill is manipulative and mendacious. Jesse tries to reform him with limited results. Eventually, the war catches up with Quantrill and he disbands his guerrilla army. Jesse and company hang around with him and then Quantrill is blinded and our heroes have to hole up while Yankee swarm the territory. The Union Army catches them in a burned out shack and a blinded Quantrill tricks Jesse and his men into leaving him behind so that he can go out in a blaze of glory. Indeed, "Kansas Raiders" doesn't white-wash Quantrill, but it does white-wash Jesse James and his trigger-happy cohorts. Enright stages the battle scenes with efficiency and "Kansas Raiders" doesn't wear out its welcome.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The unstated theme of this film is to dramatize the outlawry of William Quantrill(Brian Donlevy) in Kansas and western Missouri, primarily, and to suggest his influence on the subsequent criminal careers of Jesse and Frank James, the Younger Brothers and the Dalton gang, as an apparently cohesive buddy group within Quantrill's raiders. There is the initial conflict of purpose between Quantrill and Jesse(and the other members of Jesse's gang?). Jesse and friends joined Quantrill's band supposedly to take revenge on the lawless Red Legs(Northern bushwhackers) who victimized the James farm and that of neighbors who favored the South. But, Jesse soon discovered that, as reports claimed, Quantrill's raiders were primarily a brutal outlaw gang, who pillaged, burned and killed in the name of revenge for wrongs committed by the Red Legs and others. Only seldom were the victims of their attacks actual Red Legs. Jesse complains about this discrepancy and Quantrill falsely promises that he will mend his ways. As a result, Jesse threatens to quit, but doesn't see how his small friendship group can be very effective in accomplishing his purpose. Quantrill knows that he could not sustain the support of his group without plunder of 'ordinary folk', the burning and killing functioning as revenge for similar acts by Red Legs. Jesse gradually becomes hardened to Quantrill's ways.

    Kate(Marguerite Chapman), Quantrill's moll, has become disillusioned with Quantrill's methods, thus is attracted to Jesse(Audie Murphy)because of his seeming objection to Quantrill's brutal ways. However, gradually, Jesse accepts Quantrill's brutality and choice of victims. He unnecessarily kills Tate: Quantrill's 3rd in command, in a knife fight challenge. Then, he unnecessarily shoots dead the 2nd in command: Bill Anderson, in an altercation, making him now second to Quantrill. Kate periodically tries to convince Jesse to quit Quantrill, to no avail. At the end of the film, after Quantrill has died, when Jesse asks her to go with him, she begs out, foreseeing that Jesse and his gang will not likely quit their outlaw ways after the war is officially over.

    Hollywood film writers sometimes couldn't resist putting together icons of the old West or the Civil War in ways that had no or little historical basis. Thus, the team of the James brothers, the Younger brothers and Kit Dalton as a cohesive unit is a gross simplification of history. Even Jesse and Frank James sometimes went their own ways for a while. Another notorious example of this occurs in "Santa Fe Trail", where various future important generals in the Civil War were seen graduating in the same WestPoint class, and being assigned as a group to 'bloody' Kansas. Later, it becomes evident why this fiction was important in conveying the main point of the film(as I see it).

    There's plenty of 'action', beginning with the threatened lynching of Jesse's gang as suspected members of Quantrill's raiders(They weren't, yet). All the action involved in several raids on individual homesteads, as well as the massive raid on Lawrence, Kansas, in which the town was largely burned down. There's the knife fight between Jesse and Tate. Jesse gunned down several raiders, and here were several engagements with blue belly patrols.

    Most of the troops decide to desert after a series of costly skirmishes, and Quantrill's suggestion that they make a last stand until every man is dead. This is as sensible as his prophesy that the South could still win if Lee's army were transferred to west of the Mississippi. "Let the North win the battles. We'll win the war"(presumably by guerilla activity). Historically, his sizable 'army' did eventually split into several groups. In the film, only Jesse's friendship group remained loyal. In the film, Quantrill says he is heading to western KY to do some raiding. But, he never made it. Union troops surrounded his headquarters, first blinding him, then killing him when he walked out the front door with guns blazing, knowing that his time had come. Historically, he did go to KY, where he was ambushed by Union troops, a bullet in the back paralyzing him, with a lingering death....Various actors have played Quantrill in film. I rate Brian Donlevy as one of the best, aside from the fact that he was twice the age of the real Quantrill. He made a handsome oily villain in many a picture.

    "Dark Command" is another film that features Quantrill, including the spectacular attack on Lawrence. It might be interesting to compare the two stagings of this event.

    See it in color at YouTube
  • Does anyone know where I can purchase this movie on DVD or VHS? My mother and I love classic movies and there are several titles, including Kansas Raiders, that she would like to have. Reasons she likes the movie are the setting (Civil War period), she likes Audie Murphy since she was growing up during WWII, when he was quite a hero, and she likes films about war and full of action. She would be grateful to hear from anyone who can help guide her in purchasing this film. I have looked everywhere on the web to find it and have been unable to and it has not been on TV or I would have taped it. If any collectors are reading this please reply through the message board at IMDb. Thank you.
  • Audey Murphy heads up the James gang in this strange and pointless tale about the Kansas Raiders. For those that don't know their history Kansas and parts of Missouri were divided between slave owning Confederates and 'Yankee' settlers. During the war Confederate supporting guerrillas such as Quantrill were responsible for murders, rapes, lynches and cattle rustling on frontier towns. Their actions were largely lawless and unprincipled. Out of this Civil War renegade action grew the James gang and their reputation. A group of outlaws who garnered some local support for rising against the Union (Missouri was largely split in its support and hence did not formally enter into the Civil War) the James gang grew its romantic legend from this back drop of political disharmony. However much they wanted to pain him as a Robin Hood character he was nonetheless just a hoodlum. In this film Murphy starts out as he means to go on by quickly joining up with Quantrill with no more reason than he hates the Union and his gang want some of the lawless action going around. Murphy was a very bad actor who, with experience grew to be just a bad actor. This being one of his earliest films showcases the full forest of wood he held in his locker. But what is only worse than his acting is the confused storyline. Is it supposed to aggrandise the James legend? Show us that he was just hood on a pony? Or provide some historical context to his actions? One never really knows and to this extent you can't really ever buy into the terrible storyline. Yes, James realises that Quantrill is just a low life, but his response to it all is to becomes a bank robber. Is there really honour amongst thieves? Well this film seems to think so, but who are we then to root for? A brave film for Murphy to take on at this stage of his career, but the real scene stealer is a young Tony Curtis, not yet blooded in the Vikings, nor Spartacus. Sadly his acting, and that of others only manages to exaggerate the Lumber yard that is Audie Murphy's acting skills. Note: not being familiar with the region one gets the distinct impression the makers could not be bothered to film on location. This adds to the impression that this film was ill conceived hastily cast and poorly made, which it is.
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