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A ruthless Arizona rancher, Vince Cardenas (Telly Savalas, TV’s “Kojak”), believes in only two things: land and power. So when the US government announces its plan to give Forge River Valley to the Indians, Vince kills Washington’s envoy and frames the Apache for his murder. Inciting the townspeople to attack and wipe out the tribe, Vince plans to claim the two million acres for himself. And all that stands in his way is Paul (George Maharis, Route 66), his vengeance-obsessed brother, who's just learned Vince was his fiancée’s secret lover, and may be the man responsible for her drowning all those years ago.
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This is a well-made Western by the proven director of 1958's "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" and 1962's "Jack the Giant Killer." If you didn't know better you'd think it was shot in Arizona, where the story takes place. The score is by Ennio Morricone's orchestrator Bruno Nicolai and it's decent. The cast is great with Savalas chewing the scenery as the charismatic brother on a power trip contrasted by handsome Maharis as the troubled, but noble sibling.
The movie does well in the female department with four – count 'em four – beautiful women in various roles: Janet Landgard plays the Sheriff's daughter, Arlene Dahl the corrupt brother's wife, Jocelyn Lane the noble brother's old flame and Marcella Saint-Amant a saloon senorita. Moreover, the film checks all the boxes of Western staples, like a saloon brawl, an Indian attack on a wagon train, cavalry & fort sequences, a stampede, shootouts and various romances. Furthermore, the plot is more interesting than the conventional revenge or greed motifs of Spaghetti oaters, which sort of gives away that it's an American production.
Unfortunately, the set-up of the first half is more promising than the somewhat comic booky execution of the second half; and the Natives are all obviously dark-skinned Caucasians from the Mediterranean (just guessing). It's also marred by the (obvious) use of stock footage in at least one of the action sequences. Nevertheless, "Land Raiders" delivers the goods as an action-packed Euro Western with dramatic punch. I don't get why it's so obscure as it's just as good, if not better, than more well-known Westerns of the same period.
The movie runs 101 minutes and was shot in Spain and Hungary.
GRADE: Borderline B/B- (6.5/10 Stars)