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  • 40 GUNS TO APACHE PASS (1966) was the last starring western for war hero-turned-western star Audie Murphy, who had ended his fruitful 15-year association with Universal Pictures the previous year. Released by Columbia Pictures, it turned out to be an unfitting send-off, undercut by an extremely low budget, a talky script, and an undistinguished no-name cast (aside from Murphy and screen vet Kenneth Tobey).

    The plot might have made a good western had it been accorded a bigger budget and a stronger cast. A beleaguered Arizona cavalry division harassed by Cochise and his Apache warriors is expecting a shipment of repeating rifles, which could mean the difference between life and death for Apache Wells, an outpost housing the army and surviving settlers. The weapons become the object of less-than-intense conflict involving the Cavalry, the Indians and, later, a renegade group of army deserters. Murphy plays Captain Coburn, a no-nonsense type who romances a settler's daughter (Laraine Stephens) and agrees to take her two younger brothers (Michael Blodgett, Michael Burns) into the undermanned regiment after their father is killed in an attack. A display of cowardice by the youngest brother (Burns) has dire consequences, resulting in a meandering subplot requiring his redemption.

    The production values here are far less polished than one would find in a typical TV western of the time, such as "Wagon Train" or "The Virginian." The no-name performers overact and are given reams of unnecessary dialogue in order to pad out the film's running time. Frequent narration tells us things we can see for ourselves. Most of the film was shot at ordinary-looking Southern California ranch locations. All this is especially disappointing given the participation of director William Witney, a one-time action specialist at Republic Pictures, who'd been directing for 30 years at this point.

    Things pick up, however, in the film's final third when Corporal Bodine (Kenneth Tobey), a vengeful ex-sergeant with a grudge against Murphy, decides he has other plans for the 40 rifles and convinces four of the remaining soldiers from the escort to accompany him. Murphy, who'd been left for dead, has to get the rifles back while Burns, the cowardly brother, has to prove himself a man. This section of the film was shot in more remote California locations which actually pass for Arizona and features a larger band of Apaches on the prowl as Murphy undertakes a holding action, guarding a pass alone with a stack of fully loaded repeating rifles. Director Witney's considerable expertise kicks in during this stretch and gives a hint of what might have been. Composer Richard LaSalle pumps things up with a rousing, if clichéd, score

    Audie Murphy only appeared in two more films, both little-seen. First was the international thriller, TRUNK TO CAIRO (1966), directed by future Cannon Films mogul Menahem Golan, while his final film was the Budd Boetticher western, A TIME FOR DYING (1969), which Murphy produced and appeared in briefly as Jesse James.
  • hitchcockthelegend22 February 2011
    40 Guns to Apache Pass is directed by William Witney and written by Willard and Mary Willingham. It stars Audie Murphy and Kenneth Tobey. Music is by Richard LaShelle and Jaques R. Marquette photographs it in Pathe Color with location work coming at Lovejoy Buttes, Red Rock Canyon and North Ranch in California.

    The Apaches, led by Cochise (Michael Keep), are on the warpath and vowing to kill all whites they come across. Captain Bruce Coburn (Murphy) is in charge of leading homesteaders out of harms way. But there is unrest in the band of men under his charge and mutiny is afoot.

    This was the last but one film Murphy made before retiring, you feel that he hoped this would be a fitting swan song to his career. It wasn't. Saddled with a weak script and surrounded by wooden supporting actors, Murphy alone can't make this lacklustre, cliché riddled, Western work. There's some nice scenery shot by Witney and Marquette, but with LaShelle scoring it like an episode of Scooby Doo the impact is lost. It would be easy to blame director Witney, a man more than capable of stringing together an action based movie, but asking him to try and make this particular screenplay stretch to over an hour and half was asking for the impossible.

    3/10 for Murphy's manful efforts to carry such a low-budget, routine and forgettable piece.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Set in 1868 when the Apaches under Chief Cochise go on the warpath with the intention of driving out every white settler in southern Arizona; Captain Bruce Coburn must take a small group of soldiers deep into Apache territory to take delivery of a consignment of forty new repeating rifles being delivered from the east. He doesn't have the best of men with him; his squad includes a belligerent corporal who has already been busted down from sergeant and a couple of raw recruits who joined the army when they were forced to abandon their family home. Things badly fairly quickly and several members of the squad are killed in an engagement with Cochise's braves; including one of the recruits who died because of his brother's cowardice. After taking delivery of the rifles things get even worse when the belligerent Cpl. Bodine mutinies and persuades the rest of the men to join him; telling them they will get rich selling the rifles in Mexico. Coburn is left for dead but manages to make it back to the camp at Apache Wells. Here he is relieved of command but disobeys orders to try to get the much needed rifles back. It is vital that he succeeds as Bodine lied about selling the guns in Mexico... he intends to sell them to the Apache!

    One of this film's key weaknesses is the narration that tells us things that are blindingly obvious and only seems to detract from the action and is delivered in a tone that adds nothing the film. The acting is fairly mixed; Murphy puts in a solid performance as Coburn and Kenneth Tobey is great as Cpl. Bodine, creating a delightfully unpleasant character. Some of the other actors are decidedly ropey though; in one scene a soldier fighting for his life calls for help in a tone more suited to somebody inviting somebody to join him for a cup of tea! The action, when it comes, is exciting enough although nothing exceptional. The desert locations look impressive but the 'fort' at Apache Wells looked nothing like a military outpost. The main reason to watch this is to see Murphy's last starring role; apart from that it passes the time well enough on a rainy afternoon.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In his next to last film Audie Murphy had almost outgrown his boyish good looks enough to pass for a reasonably convincing hard case. His character Bruce Coburn is a no nonsense Cavalry Captain with orders to escort settlers out of Apache Indian Territory and later, to bring in a shipment of repeating rifles to the Army outpost at Apache Wells. There's a romantic interest in the role of Coburn's fiancé Ellen Malone (Laraine Stephens) but she's not a major factor in the story, basically book-ending her presence by being in one of the families Coburn removes from their homestead. However she has two younger brothers who join the Army to get their hands on some weapons to take it to the Apaches.

    Even though the Chiricahua Apaches are a palpable menace in the story, most of the tension is provided by Coburn's nemesis within the ranks. Corporal Bodine (Kenneth Tobey) was a former Confederate who still hates the Union enough to desert in the middle of the mission and drag along a handful of soldiers, including the younger Malone brother Doug (Michael Burns). By this point, Doug had already witnessed older brother Mike (Michael Blodgett) attacked and dragged off by the Apaches, unwilling and unable to come to his aid by reason of cowardice. If you've seen enough stories like this, the eventual 'rise to the occasion' moment was being set up here.

    I was a little surprised to see most other reviewers on this board lean toward the negative for this flick. Except for Murphy's own autobiographical film "To Hell and Back" and his 1959 Western "No Name on the Bullet", I found this to be one of the better ones starring the real life war hero. Part of that reverts back to my opening comment regarding Murphy's 'look'; in virtually every other Western I've seen him in, he doesn't look the part whether he's playing a hero OR a villain.

    If I had to nit pick though, what didn't seem convincing to me was how handily Captain Coburn picked off all those charging Indians once he got his hands on the rifle cache. A little like John Wayne winning all those war and Western battles all by himself. But if you're an Audie Murphy fan, and by now I guess I'm in that camp, this is a decent send off in his last feature role.
  • Audie Murphy plays a tough, by-the-book Cavalry officer in Apache territory who's hard on his men. He's sent to pick up 40 automatic rifles and bring them back to the fort, but he runs into difficulties (of course). This is one of those very routine minor movies that Murphy kept turning up in after the end of his Universal contract. The "fort" is a one-rail corral; the soldiers are colorless, minor character actors--with one exception (see below). Distances shrink and enlarge at the whim of the plot (sometimes the action takes place a couple of days from the fort, then it's an hour's ride). The locations are overly familiar--a couple of day's shooting in Red Rock Canyon, a couple of days probably in the Owens Valley, and a couple more in rolling California hills. But--and it's a big one--Bodine, the antagonist, is played by the reliable Kenneth Tobey. As always, he gives it his all--turning this minor role into a distinct, peculiarly likable heavy. He's wry, vindictive, amusing, and--unusually for a Western where most of the good guys are former Confederates (unless the name "Quantrill" is evoked)--he fought for the South, but he's a bad guy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    40 Guns To Apache Pass involves Captain Audie Murphy's commanding officer Byron Morrow sending him on two missions for the cavalry. The first is to bring in the white settlers in their part of the Arizona Territory. The second is as the title says to bring 40 repeating rifles to the army stockade at Apache Pass, the better to fend off an attack from Cochise with.

    It's sad that Audie Murphy who made such a good string for the most part of really competent B westerns even long after that genre had moved to television petered out that string with this film with an improbable almost laughable plot. On that second mission he takes some of the prizes in the garrison, two green recruits in Michael Blodgett and Michael Burns and some of the worst disciplined including Kenneth Tobey, a corporal with a mean and larcenous streak in him that Murphy had to bludgeon into submission on the first mission. Why he would take him again on a more dangerous assignment is beyond me.

    Given the idiocy in picking this particular patrol certain things that one with half a brain could have foreseen, do happen.

    Watching the film I believe Murphy was supposed to die, but the producers tacked on a ridiculous happy ending with Murphy going back to Laraine Stephens whose brothers were Blodgett and Burns. It's really rather obvious.

    Best in the film and I'm sure he knew it was a turkey was Kenneth Tobey. He pulls out all stops in making his villain a memorable one.

    I wouldn't waste my time with this one.
  • duke073 August 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    I have always liked this film from the opening commentary to set up the feel of film to the exciting ending. Audie looked good as the officer although he always looked young(but just remember what in did in WW2 23 years earlier). The rest of the outfit were appropriately scruffy. In westerns it's often the supporting cast of heavies that make a film & Kenneth Tobey is great as the bad guy. Watching this film the other day i still found that it held my attention all the way thru. The indians looked like how i would expect apaches to look. The landscape is my personal favourite setting for a western.

    Although the story is somewhat routine its the scenery, action, & support cast that make a western really stand out so therefore this STANDS out so when you get the chance sit back & enjoy. But always remember that while there's thousands of westerns that have been made not that many have the big three ACTION SCENERY & SUPPORTING CAST. IF YOU LIKE THIS TRY DUEL AT DIABLO.
  • I loved this movie. Audie Murphy did a great job in the lonely outpost fighting Apaches. You couldn't expect less from the most decorated soldier in WW II. His swan song was a good one. I actually saw this online at classic movies but will get this as part of my collection. Kenneth Tobey (Bodine) probably stole the show as an old Confederate. The friction between him and Murphy (Capt. Bruce Coburn) starts right off at the beginning when he asks for a break. Captain Coburn refutes him and this relationship intensifies nicely. Laraine Stephens's sons getting in on the action is another great sub-plot that all fits in very well. This is worth seeing and getting on DVD if available.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've read several other reviews and I must ask if those who call this a cheapie have ever watched a 'western' where 90% of the film takes place in a town or in a confined location where they talk each other to death. I love for it's drama and characters, the original '3:10 to Yuma'. But every time I watch it, despite it's brevity, there's quite a bit of talking, taunting, hotel door-knocking and window- takes a while to get the hell out of that hotel room. Unlike even the most highly regarded westerns, this one had a welcomed lack of comic relief, banter and annoying romantic interludes. It was actionful and I can't believe someone actually mentioned it was tired and boring. Aside from it's climactic shootout, 'The Gunfight at the OK Corral' is a town-bound drama with Rhonda Fleming boring us to death. The on-location photography and camera-work in '40 Guns...' was pretty impressive; not filmed as a quickie would be 2 miles from LA or on a backlot. Many of the action scenes I consider very well done. Someone mentioned that a punch during a fight completely misses but the man goes reeling. Ever look closely at the saloon brawl in 'Shane'? Kenneth Tobey proved his worth as a bitter, treacherous villain spewing dark-humored barbed remarks. And whoever counted the modern 50 stars on the flag, should also have noticed that we were spared the hero and the girl in an embrace as the sun set. And as for the plot being well- worn and tired, how many films can they make where the guy's girl and best buddy fall in love? How many sports films can they make where a losing team gets a down- and-out coach who needs to redeem himself? How many action films can they make where the thief, spy, driver, detective, hit man 'comes out of retirement'......??? How many crime films have the hero driving cross-town in traffic to save a potential murder victim, but doesn't call 911? Talk about well-worn formulas.
  • Here's the bad news about this film. It has a ridiculous narration that keeps telling us what we don't need to be told. And the music is hit or miss, sometimes appropriate to what's being shown, and sometimes seriously off, sounding like merry go round music when major action is happening.

    If those things were corrected, then the rest of the film's flaws are lesser and could have been put up with. The acting is good in some parts and with other actors not quite good enough. The story is OK and has some thrilling bits in the last half.

    If you're an Audie Murphy fan, then you may want to watch this, but it's not as good as some of his earlier films.

    So sad, why didn't he change over to modern action films.
  • Audie Murphy is a Cavalry captain who must get "40 Guns to Apache Pass" so that White settlers can defend themselves against savage Apache Indians; he enlists a questionable group to assist in the mission. The men include young Michael Burns and Michael Blodgett (as Mike and Doug Malone), and old Confederate-with-a-grudge Kenneth Tobey (as Bodine). Laraine Stephens adds more blonde femininity to the cast, as the Malone boys' sister (Ellen).

    This is a tired and formulaic Western, with tired and formulaic being enhanced by comparison to more successful 1960s films in the genre. This film's redeeming feature might have been the pairing of veteran Audie Murphy and newcomer Michael Burns - however, Mr. Burns never achieved Mr. Murphy's star status.

    Burns plays a "sissy" coward who, according to his sister, "can't stand the sight of blood." Watch for Burns' little glance at his own brow blood for a sign he's becoming brave! Murphy is no sissy; he learned the thrill of fighting at age nine, and joined the Army when he was fifteen. Listen as Murphy revels in the exhilarating fight he LOST at age nine! One of the film's more important scenes involves Burns showing cowardice as his brother is attacked by Apaches; the scene is unbelievably ludicrous, and perfectly illustrates the film's point - and pointlessness. "40 Guns" is additionally bogged down by a calming narrator who explains little that isn't obvious.

    ** 40 Guns to Apache Pass (1967) William Witney ~ Audie Murphy, Michael Burns, Kenneth Tobey
  • Cliche-ridden, but exciting, action-packed western backed with a stirring tune by Richard LaSalle. It's refreshing to see the lexicon of the fifties westerns utilized energetically in an era where it was seen as outdated. And William Whitney directs with energy; he was well-known for rousing action sequences
  • 1st watched 11/23/2006 - 2 out of 10(Dir-William Witney): Lame 40's style bad indians, good settlers movie made in the late 60's(believe it or not). This movie definitely takes us back in time when westerns were one-sided and badly acted(these were not good times) and why this movie had to take us back there I don't know. Portrayed as a harsh captain(played by Audie Murphy), his men dessert him in the desert as they are trying to bring 40 repeating rifles back to the settler's base to defend themselves against Cochese's Apache Indians who vow to not leave one white man alive in their Arizona Territory shortly after the civil war. What the rest of the movie consists of is gun battles occurring after the Captain tries to regain the rifles on his own, goofy romance, estranged alliances and of course, the good guys coming out rosy in the end(at least as is portrayed in this movie). Other parts of the movie that are a downer include un-necessary narration(that reminds us of those Disney TV documentaries), canned music and an altogether old worn-out theme that shouldn't have been retread. Besides this I guess it wasn't that bad of a movie...just kidding, it was that bad.
  • Director William Witney is no John Ford. But it's doubtful that even the great Ford could have done anything with this lame western which has possibly one of the dullest screenplays ever written.

    Saddled with bad material, it's no wonder that AUDIE MURPHY finds himself floundering about in a role that's so poorly written, he never has a chance. The actor himself admitted to being a "no talent" when it came to screen acting, and here he really gets his chance to prove it. The only other respectable performance in the film is given by KENNETH TOBEY, usually Mr. Nice, here cast as the bad guy who wants to sell rifles to the Indians and ends up in a heap of trouble when Audie decides to single-handedly take care of the situation and put Tobey and his cronies out of business. It takes more than an hour to get to this situation and by that time it's doubtful whether anyone was left watching.

    Filmed in muddy color with some interesting background scenery the only thing to dwell on during long stretches of dull dialog, it's no wonder Murphy's career was in decline by the time he did this film away from his home studio, Universal. Unfortunately, a tragic plane accident took his life only a few years later.
  • coolantic13 February 2020
    Warning: Spoilers
    Saw this movie at the cinema back in the late sixties, and was a bit surprised at Murphy's transition from white-hat hero to cynical, hard-bitten cavalry officer. But then, westerns were becoming a bit more realistic, and serious. The main thing I recall, apart from the irritating and totally unnecessary narration, was the copious amount of blood on show. Up to then nobody bled when they were shot, but here we have it, if not in bucketfuls, certainly in splatters. An early example is when new recruit Mike is struggling with an Apache atop a rock. His mouth and chin are absolutely dripping with the red stuff! Later when Coburn is shot by Bodine, is uniform blouse has a big red patch on it. Although he does seem to press his hand on a different area of his chest! It's not a bad story. Rogue soldiers looking to make a quick buck by selling guns to the Indians (Native Americans hadn't been invented yet!) Kenneth Tobey always had reliable villain credentials and some of the locations are striking, even if they are only a pale imitation of Monument Valley. As mentioned elsewhere, this type if movie was well past its sell-by date even when it was made. Murphy himself probably realised this since it was his last starring role
  • This joke of a movie -- with terrible acting, a thin plot and cheap production values -- at least gave me a laugh once when I badly needed one. For some unaccountable reason, they sent us this movie about the cavalry to see when we were serving in the actual 1st Cavalry (Airmobile) in Vietnam.

    These guys couldn't shoot straight, except for the few times when a single shot felled multiple Indians, but they also could not be wounded, even when taking cover behind the flimsiest rail fence.

    So little thought went into this movie that it deserves to be ranked among the worst of all time. However, I gave it a second star because of the laughs.
  • Murphy does all the right things but they are the same heroics and " it's okay I'm just shot in the chest so I ain't gonna flinch" routine as westerns had ten and twenty years before. It's hard to believe this film was made in the era of the American Indian movement and the Beatles etc. This film also reminds me of why the western faded. The Indians here are simple ciphers. They are portrayed as mindless " hostiles" and the western clichés are trotted out. The" whites" are heroics defenders, the Indians are savages. 1967 was far too late for that to play any more. I laughed when the opening line was " there were only a few brave men stopping the whole Territory of Arizona being overrun".they meant of course a few brave settlers from the east. But it struck me as odd that in 67 the line was not in any way used for irony. The few brave men were in fact Indians defending their community and the overrunning was being done by " whites". Overall it's workmanlike effort but nothing really distinguished this film from any production line western from the 50's. Murphy seems tired but competent and remarkably well preserved for a WWII veteran.
  • I have ridden horses all my life and when you are out in the middle of nowhere and dismount, the last thing you do is turn your horse loose, you tie them up. In this movie, several times, people just dismount and leave the horse to wonder off. REALLY! How stupid! Gee, it's only thirty eight miles back to the fort, I don't have any water or food so I think I'll just turn O'l Buck loose. How unrealistic.

    It's a good thing they're making a movie and the horses get breaks along with the actors or they would keel over dead from all that running. And after all that running, they don't sweat. Strange too they can be ridden all day and never seem to need to eat. Or poop.

    Guns are LOUD. Yet no one ever flinches or even reacts to the noise. And rifles are discharged just inches from horse's heads and they don't even react. Either the horses are completely deaf, or those runs are really quiet.

    I could go on. I can never understand why a movie producer or director will go to all the trouble and spend mucho dollars and end up with a film with so many obvious errors.
  • This is just superficial, weak, clichéd Hollywood crap. There's hardly a western movie cliché that's left out. I should say that I've enjoyed quite a few Audie Murphy movies, but when the movie is otherwise bad, he comes across very unconvincingly. He's such a brave boy isn't he ! What is interesting and museum-worthy is the basic premise of the story, namely that the natives are the bad guys for trying to stop the European settlers taking over their land. I was surprised that this ethos could be on display as late as 1966 when the movie was made. If this was the mainstream attitude at that time then it is no wonder the US felt no reluctance in waging war on Vietnam as punishment for its outrageous behaviour in objecting to the US invasion. Times were of course achangin' : "Little Big Man", one of America's greatest movies,was made only 4 years later in 1970.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    One of Audie Murphy's last movies is nothing to really brag about. But he is a genuine American military hero and extremely popular. Harsh Captain Bruce Coburn(Murphy)leads a group of the Cavalry to accept a shipment of forty valuable rifles: and hopes to avoid Cochise(Michael Keep)and the Apaches. Corporal Bodine(Kenneth Tobey)starts a mutiny against the much hated Cpt. Coburn and intends to sell the rifles to Cochise instead of going to Mexico to trade them. Cpt. Coburn arrives back to the command post at Apache Wells in shame and loses his rank. In spite of this, he heads out singlehanded to retrieve the guns, capture Bodine and put down a massive Apache attack. Filmed in California and the most scenic location being the Red Rock Canyon State Park. The cast also features: Michael Burns, Laraine Stephens, Robert Brubaker and Byron Morrow.
  • Audie Murphy, the Most Decorated WWII Soldier, Including the Medal of Honor, had a Long and Successful Run in mostly Moderate Budgeted Westerns, and was a Household Name. He was a Humble Hero, Soft Spoken, but Intimidating Behind an Icy Stare.

    Always Quick to Point Out that being a Good Actor was an ongoing Fight He Never Won but Never Gave Up trying, managed 44 Films, some to Box Office Glory. His Autobiographical Film, "To Hell and Back"(1955) Broke Box Office Records and Wasn't Topped for 20 Years.

    In this, His Last Major Role, was Characteristic of His Real Life and Screen Persona, but the Movie itself was Anachronistic. The Vietnam War was Raging and by 1967, ironically the "Summer of Love", most Leaders within the know knew that "the Nam" was going to be a Tough War.

    This Film has a "John Wayne" Attitude and a No Apologies Conceit that was Conservative.

    The "Whites are the Good Guys", "Indians are the Savages", Cliché was No Longer Sell-Able and the Film Suffers from a Story-Line Best Suited in a more "Unenlightened" Time.

    Murph, looking as Young as Ever but showing Signs of Body Sprawl, Delivers a Dutiful Performance. He is "Helped" by Kenneth Tobey giving a Good-Bad Guy Role and He makes the most of it and is the Film's only Interesting Element. Audie looks more Hesitant, perhaps Sensing that His Time On the Screen had Passed.

    Rather than trying to Pursue other Ranging Roles Audie Murphy Retired from the Screen but Never Retired from the Hearts of Grateful Americans and Remained a Real Hero for the Rest of His Short Life.

    He Died in a Plane Crash at the Age of 46. The Only Grave Receiving More Visits in Arlington is JFK.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Audie Murphy that most likable of unconvincing heroic actors. A real life super hero, Murphy compares badly against Randolph Scott who towered above every cheap western he ever made with total conviction as a granite hard hero that you believe totally, that's the movies.In this late western before Murphy's untimely death he is again the all American hero saving the west in a plot about 40 missing guns. The B western like the double bill was dying fast but both were still the staple in the late sixties, but budgets were getting ever tighter and boy does it show in this one. Terrible thread bare plot, terrible acting, hopeless action, poor photography and locations, dire dialogue and my fluorite howler, of boom microphones clearly visible, this film has the lot, picking out any of the very many goof's, only add's to the fun. It should be un-watchable, but it is for all the wrong reasons, just brilliant, i love it! And, you may too?