Distant Drums (1951)

Approved   |    |  Action, Drama, Western


Distant Drums (1951) Poster

After destroying a Seminole fort, American soldiers and their rescued companions must face the dangerous Everglades and hostile Indians in order to reach safety.


6.5/10
1,688

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


25 September 2006 | ragosaal
7
| It Worked for Me
I saw "Distant Drums" for the first time when I was 10 or 11 years old and I recall it was a great film for me. Then I saw it as an adult and though it was not the great film I remembered it was still very good as an action and adventure sort of western. Since I'm not from the USA I didn't notice some historical mistakes -mainly the use of guns and rifles not yet invented by the time of the action- I learned about after reading some reviews here; I think those are major flaws in a movie.

However, I think my little knowledge about the Seminole wars in Florida give me the possibility of judging the film just at what it is: an adventure film. That established, "Distant Drums" appears to me as a highly entertaining and well done movie as well as a very original film mainly because of where the action is located. Is has great color, beautiful photography and incredible open wide sceneries in the Everglades. The plot -although kind of standard (a bunch of soldiers chased by savage Indians through the swamps- is however very well handled by director Roul Walsh and he keeps action going all along without major bumps. The sequence at the Seminole village is most impressive and tense as it is the final underwater knife duel between Captain Wyatt and chief Okala.

Gary Cooper (Wyatt) is very good as the leader of the escaping troop and shows the presence and self confidence a leader should. The rest of the cast brings a good support too, mainly Arthur Hunnicutt (Coooper's sidekick) and Ray Teal (one of the troopers), and Mari Aldon does a credible work as Cooper's romantic interest. Seminole chief Okala looks mean enough and a proper match for Cooper. Perhaps the less impressive performance is that of Richard Webb kind of dull as a navy officer involved in the mission.

In all this a decent action/adventure film, most entertaining and worth seeing for those who enjoy the genre.

Critic Reviews


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Did You Know?

Trivia

WILHELM SCREAM: This film contains the first known instance of "The Wilhelm Scream" (a sound effect of a man screaming, since used in over 149 other movies). During a scene in which the soldiers are wading through a swamp in the everglades, one of them is bitten and dragged underwater by an alligator. The scream for that character was recorded later. Six short pained screams were recorded in a single take, which was slated "man getting bit by an alligator, and he screams." The fifth scream was used for the soldier - but the 4th, 5th, and 6th screams recorded in the session were also used earlier in the film when three Indians are shot, one after another, during a raid on a fort. Although the "signature" or "classic" screams, takes 4 through 6 on the original recording, are the most recognizable, all of the screams are referred to as "Wilhelm" by those in the sound community. Ben Burtt, sound effects designer on Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), named it "Wilhelm" after the character that let out the scream in The Charge at Feather River (1953). He discovered a file at Warner Bros. for this movie, which contained paperwork that was left over from the picture editor when the film was completed. One of the papers was a short list of names of actors who were scheduled to come in to perform various lines of dialogue for miscellaneous roles in the movie. After reviewing the names and even listening to their voices, one person seemed to be the most likely suspect: Sheb Wooley. Sheb played the uncredited role of Private Jessup in "Distant Drums", and was one of the few actors assembled for the recording of additional vocal elements for the film. It is very likely he was asked on the spot to perform other things for the film, including the screams for a man being bitten by an alligator.


Quotes

Monk: Fish and turtles! Nothing but fish and turtles! I'm about to grow gills!


Goofs

The historic Castillo de San Marcos is located in the east coast of Florida, not the west coast as shown in the movie.


Crazy Credits

Opening credits are followed immediately by Lt. Richard Tufts (Richard Webb) writing in his LOG "I, Lieutenant Richard Tufts, United States Navy, do make this account of my perilous journey in the Territory of Florida in the year 1840."

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Action | Drama | Western

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