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40 Guns to Apache Pass

1966 | 16:9 Widescreen | Color | Quality: Excellent

Audie Murphy

Kenneth Tobey


It's 1868 and the Apaches are on the warpath slaughtering every white settler in southern Arizona! Survivors have retreated to an understaffed army encampment at Apache Wells, but they are trapped and an attack could come at any moment. Captain Bruce Coburn (Audie Murphy) is the leader of a ragtag group of misfit soldiers who must escort a shipment of 40 repeating rifles that are absolutely necessary to save everyone at the camp from slaughter. The squad includes men who joined under false names, a couple of young greenhorn brothers totally unfit for service, and other scruffy characters. The chief troublemaker, though, is the belligerent Corporal Bodine (Kenneth Tobey), an ex-Confederate POW who was pressed into service and still harbors resentment towards the Union blue. Things go badly fairly quickly as the squad are tracked and picked off by Apache braves, and everything falls totally apart when Bodine suddenly mutinies and persuades the rest of the men to join him with the intent of getting rich selling the rifles in Mexico. Coburn manages to escape and make it back to Apache Wells, but he is disgraced and relieved of command. Overwhelmed with guilt, he deserts and rides off to get the much needed rifles back all by himself while the Apache close in. It is vital that he succeeds as Bodine has lied about selling the guns in Mexico... he intends to sell them to the Apache!

This was Audie Murphy's final starring role as he was winding down his film career. Beautifully filmed in California with the most scenic location being the Red Rock Canyon State Park - it all passes nicely for southern Arizona. It is often the supporting cast who make or break a Western film, and here Kenneth Tobey almost steals the show as the scruffy Corporal Bodine - a great sneering, scheming bad guy who is the total embodiment of a scumbag. The cast also features: Michael Burns, Laraine Stephens, Robert Brubaker and Byron Morrow. Director William Witney's considerable expertise helps turn a so-so script into a solid 95-minute actioner that holds the viewer's attention from start to finish, and composer Richard LaSalle rises to the occasion to pump things up with a rousing 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.

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