Duel at Diablo packs enough fast action in its cavalry-Indians narrative to satisfy the most avid follower of this type of entertainment. Produced with knowhow, and directed with a flourish by Ralph Nelson, the feature is long on exciting and well-staged battle movement and carries a story that while having little novelty still stands to good effect.
Based on the Marvin Albert novel, Apache Rising, screenplay stars James Garner as a scout and Sidney Poitier as a former trooper who now makes his living breaking in horses for the service. Rivalling them in interest and importance, however, is Bill Travers, a cavalry lieutenant who heads the column of raw recruits to a distant fort and is attacked en route by the Apaches.
Garner is properly rugged and acquits himself handsomely, convincing as a plainsman who knows his Indians. Poitier tackles a new type of characterization here, far afield from anything he has essayed in the past. Travers in a strong character part is vigorous and appealing and endears himself with his light and human touch.