Kansas Raiders (1950) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1950|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Ray Enright|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Unknown||English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
In the middle of the American Civil War Jessie James (Audie Murphy), his brother Frank (Richard Long), Kit Dalton (Tony Curtis) and brothers Cole and James Younger (James Best, Dewey Martin) ride into Kansas to fight with the Confederate guerrillas led by Colonel William Quantrill (Brian Donlevy). The James’ home in Missouri had been destroyed, their parents killed, by Redleg Union guerrillas raiding along the border and Jessie and his companions join Quantrill to fight back. But in reality the guerrillas on both sides are equally blood-thirsty and murderous, more interested in killing civilians and looting than in fighting soldiers. Kate Clarke (Marguerite Chapman), a young woman who lives with Quantrill, tries to tell Jessie about the indiscriminate killing of civilians, something Jessie sees at first hand during his first raid which causes him to question his allegiance to Quantrill. But Quantrill has a vision and is a very persuasive man and when he promises that there will be no deaths of unarmed civilians in the future, Jessie believes him.
The promise, of course, means nothing when Quantrill’s Raiders sack the town of Lawrence, Kansas, with looting, burning and indiscriminate killings; to save a Union Captain from hanging Jessie shoots Quantrill’s second in command Bill Anderson (Scott Brady). After the burning of Lawrence the Union pours troops into the area to hunt down Quantrill and his men, forcing the group to disband. Jessie and his friends, however, stay with Quantrill and Kate, even after Quantrill is blinded in a fight with Union cavalry. On the run, and with the Union forces closing in, it is only a matter of time before they are surrounded.
Shot in Technicolor in Utah and California by DP Irving Glassberg, Kansas Raiders looks spectacular for an almost 70 year old film. The production values are high; there is a large cast of extras on the screen, numerous shoot-outs and the destruction of Lawrence is impressive with only a hint of colourisation. Decorated war hero Audie Murphy is good as the confused and conflicted Jessie James and Brian Donlevy is excellent as the charismatic and persuasive Quantrill (although it should be noted that he is much older than the real Quantrill, who was only 27 when he was killed). Murphy and Marguerite Chapman share a couple of screen clinches and kisses but there is not a lot of chemistry in their romance. Tony Curtis had a small part in Murphy’s previous western Sierra and has a much bigger part in Kansas Raiders; his friendship with Murphy resulted in Murphy recommending that Curtis play him in To Hell and Back, the story of Murphy’s WW2 exploits, before Murphy ultimately played himself in that film.
Kansas Raiders, released in 1950, directed by veteran Ray Enright whose career stretched back to the 1920s, is a fictional story based on real people and real events, such as the burning of Lawrence. It is disputed whether Jessie James ever rode with Quantrill, although his older brother Frank did, and Jessie certainly did not shoot “Bloody Bill” Anderson in Lawrence, Kansas. But the reality was that this “war” on the borders between irregulars on both sides was a brutal, dirty and nasty conflict by men more bent on murder and looting than a cause and this is shown in the film, or at least as much as a sanitized western made in 1950, rated PG here, can show.
Kansas Raiders is presented in the 1.37:1 aspect ratio, in NTSC. Rather unusually it is 16x9 enhanced.
I was stunned at how good this 70 year old film looks. The Technicolor process has resulted in the beautiful rich colours of the sky, trees and fire effects and strong detail in both close-ups and wider framed shots. The night scenes were filmed day for night and have solid blacks and good shadow detail. Contrast and brightness is consistent, skin tones natural. Other than slight blur with motion against railings there are no obvious artefacts or marks.
No subtitles are provided.
The audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono at 192 Kbps.
Dialogue is clear. The effects including galloping horses, gunshots and the burning buildings had depth and were very good for a mono audio. There is no credit for the music which is very generic and could have come from almost any western of the period.
There was no hiss or crackle.
Lip synchronisation is fine.
|Surround Channel Use|
Nothing. The silent menu offers only “Play” as an option.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
There have been a few releases of Kansas Raiders, including one in Region 1 which shares a disc with The Lawless Breed. In Australia the only other listing is in the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection, which is part of this Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection. See the summary section below.
It is doubtful that Jessie James was anything like he is played by Audie Murphy and Kansas Raiders is a sanitized, fictionalised story based on the dirty and brutal conflict between irregulars on the Kansas / Missouri border during the American Civil War. But looked at as a western adventure Kansas Raiders is fast moving and entertaining with a fabulous Technicolor print, lots of shootouts, galloping horses and good performances by Audie Murphy and Brian Donlevy.
The video is beautiful and the audio fine. There are no extras.
Kansas Raiders is included in the 14 disc / 14 film set Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection. The 14 movies, made by Murphy between 1950 and 1966, are all westerns except for the army comedy Joe Butterfly. The Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection is made up from the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection and the Audie Murphy: Man of the West Collection II. Both of these individual Man of the West Collection packs have been released previously. But if you are a fan of westerns or a fan of Audie Murphy and don’t have those two collections, this Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection is a good buy.
The Audie Murphy Ultimate Western Collection was supplied for review by Via Vision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S580, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|