Man Manipulation by Malone
On first glance "Quantez" doesn't appear to be special, a group of bank robbers and a girlfriend end up in a ghost town holed up over night because their horses are dead beat. There is the posse which is on their tail and the threat of Indians nearby but it all seems to be leading to the cliche of being picked off one by one. But here is the good news "Quantez" isn't that sort of western instead it is about the tension between this strange band of robbers and the woman who flirts with each of the men as she tries to get herself out and to safety. It makes it a western with a psychological aspect, not necessary a deep aspect but one which ends up pleasantly different to other 50s westerns.
After robbing a bank a small gang of outlaws head South to the town of Quantez where they plan to switch their dead tired horses for fresh ones before a posse catches up to them. But they discover that Quantez had been abandoned and with night drawing in and horses ready to drop are forced to hole up for the night and hope neither the posse or Indians catch them. But it becomes a tense night as Chaney (Dorothy Malone - Written on the Wind), the girlfriend of lead outlaw Heller (John Larch - Gun for a Coward) flirts with the other men, trying to find one who will guarantee her path to freedom.
Now as westerns go "Quantez" begins in quite an ordinary way, outlaws riding across country a posse on their trail it would be very ordinary except at the same time we learn that leader Heller has brought his girlfriend Chaney with him and there is little love between them. And then we get to the town of Quantez, a town which has been mysteriously abandoned and we wonder what is going on, why is the town empty, is it haunted, it certainly feels spooky. Maybe it is something else, and some of the men fear that maybe Indians have driven the people of the town out and yes we do see Indians nearby. All of which leads us to think that here we have a group of outlaws in an empty town and will end up being pinned down, it certainly has all the criteria for one of these sorts of westerns.
But then we discover the truth and as westerns go "Quantez" is not that western like because this is all about the men and the beautiful Chaney. There is Heller her abusive partner and Teach the slightly wet behind the ears young outlaw who fancies her and is ready to fight for her leading to tension between them. But then there is the older and wiser Gentry who also has a liking for her and he is less hot headed than Teach when it comes to the way he deals with Heller. And then there is Gato, a white man raised by Indians who could be Chaney's best chance of freedom, although no one realises he has been communicating with the Indians. It makes "Quantez" all about the tension between them and as the night ends and dawn rises things come to ahead, not with out a minstrel arriving, sounds a little strange but also pivotal.
As such whilst there are some moments of typical western activity "Quantez" is very much about the characters and the acting which all round is good. Fred MacMurray is perfect as the wise headed Gentry an outlaw who has seen it all before and has a secret to keep. John Gavin is impetuous as the wet behind the ears young man whilst John Larch has a real element of anger and a chip on his shoulder as Heller. But the scene stealer in all this is Dorothy Malone because of the way she turns her charms on which ever man she feels is her best chance of getting her out. You get a real sense that once she was young and carefree but life and being with Heller has worn her down and turned her into someone willing to do what ever it takes to escape not just the danger of what lurks outside but also Heller's abusive ways.
What this all boils down to is that "Quantez" is not the best western in the world but one which for a product of the 50s is different to the norm with its tension between a small group of people. And all of this tension builds to an impressive ending which for those who feel let down by the lack of western action will enjoy.