Raiding the History Books
Confederate captain Alan Westcott (Steve Cochran) is sent on a mission, masquerading as a former Union soldier turned horse trader he enters the town of Lawrence, Kansas in order to pass on orders and information to William Clarke Quantrill and his men who are hiding up in the nearby hills. But as Alan spends time in Lawrence he becomes conflicted due to his friendships with the locals especially Sue Walters (Diane Brewster) and her young brother Joel (Kim Charney) as well as Quantrill's girlfriend Kate (Gale Robbins).
There isn't a great deal to be said about "Quantrill's Raiders" which is kind of befitting of a western which only runs to 68 minutes. For the most it is a typical late 1950s western, with that semi vibrant look where the red lipstick of a woman's lips contrasts against her smooth skin and there is a mix of action and romance to keep you entertained. And in fairness "Quantrill's Raiders" does keep you entertained because it uses everyone of its precious 68 minutes wisely and as such never feels like it is dragging out the storyline just for the sake of making it to 90 minutes.
But there are a couple of things worth mentioning and the first of which is that whilst the story of Quantrill and Lawrence is real this is of course a movie and as such we are presented with the movie world's version of history which doesn't stick to the facts. Then there is the acting and it is a chalk and cheese movie as unfortunately Steve Cochran is bland; oh he looks the part but he brings no light or shade to his character and ends up dull for playing him all at one level. Of course this was typical of the era and of western b-movies but it lets "Quantrill's Raiders" down.
Cochran's deficiencies at delivering character are highlighted by the presence of Leo Gordon who had a sense of danger about him which worked well for playing bad guy William Clarke Quantrill. In the scenes which Gordon and Cochran share just the intensity of Gordon's stare puts Cochran in the shade let alone his tense, sudden movements and it is one of the best portrayals of Quantrill I have come across, bringing depth to the character of a man under pressure.
What this all boils down to is that "Quantrill's Raiders" is an enjoyable little western from the late 1950's and it features a knock out performance from Leo Gordon. But it is for the most just another b-movie western and with a bland performance from Steve Cochran it is also a forgettable one.