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  • One of Alan Ladd's better post Paramount films was Drum Beat, based on a little known incident from the Indian wars.

    For the first time an American general was killed during the wars against the Indian tribes. The little known Modoc war was another of those lesser known conflicts as action against the Sioux on the Great Plains and the Apache in the Arizona desert got far more attention.

    The Modocs were moved from a reservation in northern California to one in Oregon to share with the Klamath, a tribe that had a long feuding history with the Modoc. That was the immediate cause of the war. It was kept going by one of the Modoc's more charismatic leaders, a chief named Captain Jack.

    On April 11, 1873, General E.R.S. Canby among other peace commissioners who were sitting in council with Captain Jack and the other chiefs were suddenly shot and killed, in fact Captain Jack personally did shoot General Canby. Charles Bronson in his very first film with that name having dropped his real birth last name of Buckinsky plays Captain Jack. Warner Anderson plays the feckless and luckless Canby.

    The horror of that incident aroused some bad public opinion against the Modocs, not to dissimilar against to what was aroused against the Japanese after Pearl Harbor and Islamist extremists after the World Trade Center attack albeit on a much smaller scale. It certainly shifted priorities for a while in the War Department from the Sioux and the Apache.

    Alan Ladd plays a real frontier figure named Johnny MacKay who as the film has him was a civilian scout employed by the army to find Captain Jack. His role in real life was not at the center stage of the film, but he did play a part in the Modoc Wars. And he was not among the surviving peace commissioners he wasn't at the meeting when the assassinations happened.

    For all its inaccuracies Drum Beat is the only film I know to deal with this incident that shocked a nation during The Gilded Age.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Delmer Daves' initial success came with the influential 'Broken Arrow,' which was a beautiful and humane film... Daves made another film about Indians, 'Drum Beat', which he recognizes to be the most authentic of his movies...

    The hallmark of Daves' Westerns is their authenticity... Where Ford pictured the West as it should have been, Daves has tried to recapture the West as it was...

    The film provides Bronson with his real break-through role as a screen actor... He makes indelible impression on audiences in his vivid role as the renegade Indian heavy Captain Jack who repudiates peace talk... Captain Jack is proud, ruthless and treacherous, scaring everybody plenty...

    The setting for this fact-based story is Oregon represented by location shooting in Northern Arizona's Coconino National Forest in 1872...

    Indian expert Johnny MacKay (Alan Ladd) is presidentially appointed as Peace Commissioner, assigned to effect a treaty, without resort to arms, with the Modoc Indians of the Oregon-California border...

    The Modoc majority leans toward the hoped-for peace, but a renegade band strongly resists, under the self-appointed leadership of the vicious Captain Jack (Bronson), whose men ravage the area and skirmish with the soldiers of Fort Klamath...

    In the film's exciting climax, MacKay personally tracks down Jack and battle him in fierce hand-to-hand combat into the sweeping current of a river...

    The sweet Audrey Dalton portrays the lovely eastern girl who loves Johnny 'more than any peace on earth.'

    Marisa Pavan is the friendly Toby who dares to believe that she can bring peace and goodwill to her people...

    Hayden Rorke is President Grant who knows in his heart that 'peace doesn't come cheaply.'

    Anthony Caruso is the friendly Modoc chief who never trust Captain Jack...

    Elisha Cook, Jr. is the unscrupulous trader who sells Winchesters to the Modoc Indians...

    Rodolfo Acosta is Scarface Charlie who warns Captain Jack: 'You kill, or they kill you.'

    Robert Keith is Bill the coachman, who yells after the murder of his woman, Lily: 'You dish out your peace, Johnny. I'll dish out my end.'

    "Drum Beat" is a lively item, thanks to Delmer Daves, who keeps the familiar story line moving at a fair clip... The material is trite but the production value gives it gloss, and the film benefits greatly from its applied research on Indian character...
  • This western is one of Alan Ladd's best films and he is the peace commissioner turned Indian fighter who finally brings peace in the far west. The film is based on factual events as Modoc boss Captain Jack ignores repeated overtures for peace and leaves the cavalry no choice but to resort to arms to stop the killing and outrages. Ladd and Charles Bronson, the Indian leader, make fine adversaries and the movie has lots of action and beautiful scenery. A great cast of western favorites are in the film and Ladd even has a moment or two to clinch with with pretty Audrey Dalton. Marisa Pavan is an Indian maiden who also has a yen for Ladd. Delmer Daves directed this film, which is another in a succession of excellent Daves westerns. Victor Young's fine music accompanies the film.
  • Catch the two great bookend sequences. They may be the most memorable part of this nicely produced Western purportedly based on fact. That opening sequence with McKay (Ladd) walking in unchallenged to meet President Grant is based on the historical fact that presidents have only been removed from the public in later times. Citizens back then could essentially walk in and talk to the president without a dozen pre-screens.

    Also, for this Bronson fan, that jail cell ending may well be the high point of his acting career. He shows more unforced good humor and naturalness there than any scene I've seen him in. In fact, he easily steals the movie from the rest of the cast, positioning himself as a real Hollywood comer.

    This is an A-production from Warner Bros. For example, scope out the well stocked cavalry troop. No corner-cutting there. Then too, lavish use is made of Sedona's familiar red rock locations adding real scenic value. Also, there's a much larger than usual supporting cast of familiar faces, even down to bit parts. Producers Daves and Ladd (uncredited) do a bang-up job assembling the many components.

    Surprisingly, for plot developments, the Indians actually get to win a battle and rejoice on- screen. However, the film's impact is damaged by being over-long, probably to accommodate a romantic interest to broaden audience appeal. Then too, Ladd, the actor, appears not nearly as interested in the film as Ladd, the co-producer. Frankly, he looks glum throughout the nearly two-hour running time, and I don't think it's from under-playing the part. Plus having him over-power the muscular, extremely fit looking Bronson is quite a stretch.

    Despite these several drawbacks, it's still a good scenic, action flick, the first of director Daves' series of superior Westerns.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    They called the ¨wanderer¨ because a horse was his home . They called him ¨Injun-lover¨ but never to his face but they called on him when everyone else had run away . All the special beauty and drama of Oregon's Modoc lava-lands in Cinemascope . President Grant orders Indian fighter MacKay (Alan Ladd) to deal with the Modocs of northern California and southern Oregon . McKay sets out to negotiate a peace treaty with the renegade Indian leader nicknamed Captain Jack (Charles Bronson , he had just changed his name from his real one , Buchinski) , a believable rebel chief .

    Good Indian-cavalry Western based on real incidents . This first-rate Western draws its riveting tale and power from the interaction of finely drawn roles as well as adventure and formidable action . Two-fisted Bronson enjoyed one of his first big roles in this spectacular story , overshadowing Alan Ladd who was film producer along with Delmer Daves . Tough-guy Ladd plays as a scout and expert Indian fighter , this is his best performance since ¨Shane¨ . Delmer Daves does a good work , an energetic and exciting movie , pitting two antagonist characters against the rugged toughness forced a vast natural environment throughout the trail . Highlight the exemplary value of the landscape as essential dramatic figure, and the narrative takes a brisk pace but not fast, a dash dense but not cumbersome . Colorful cinematography broke away from the traditional images to drape the Western backdrop convincingly in glimmer Warnercolor . Evocative and appropriate musical score by the classic Victor Young . The motion picture is well directed by Delmer Daves - including his characteristic use of landscape that helps the most spectacular scenes- , a Western expert as proved in the notorious ¨Broken arrow¨ , his first big Western ; furthermore , he made ¨The hanging tree¨ , ¨3:10 to Yuma¨, ¨The last wagon¨, Jubal , ¨Cowboy¨, ¨Return of the Texan¨ . And of course ¨Drum beat¨ that turns out to be stylish, fast paced , solid, meticulous and with enjoyable look . This well acted movie is gripping every step of the way . An unjustly forgotten film results to be a nice western and remains consistently agreeable . Rating : Above average , worthwhile watching .

    The story is based on historical facts , these are the following : The Modocs , a small tribe of northern California , they were fishers , hunters , slave traders and warriors . In 1864 the Modocs reluctantly ceded their tribal lands to the United States and were moved to the Klamath Indian Reservation in Oregon . The Modocs could not live peacefully with the more powerful Klamath tribe and a band of Modocs under the leadership of Kintpuash , better known as Captain Jack , left the reservation and returned to their former lands . They refused to go back the reservation and the army was sent to forcibly remove them ; the result was so-called Modoc War of 1872-3 . Captain Jack and his followers took up an almost impregnable position in the Lava Beds on the California-Oregon border ; the Lava Beds provided a natural stronghold of contorted masses of solidified volcanic lava , a broken region of natural rock trenches and caves . Here , Captain Jack held off superior forces for months . Finally he and his followers surrounded . Captain Jack and four other Modocs were tried by court martial and hanged at Fort Klamath on 3 October 1873 . The survivors of his band were sent to a reservation in the Indian territory of Oklahoma.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If in Broken Arrow, Delmer Daves made of Cochise everything one could dream that a good leader should be, here he makes up for it with Captain Jack (Charles Bronson). Captain Jack is a warrior and sees everything from this point of view, and nobody better than Alan Ladd, an Indian Fighter to understand him. The Arizona landscape in Cinemascope is spectacular and the best moment of the film is when the soldiers are trying to climb a mesa where the Indians are on top. The film aged very well, but Delmer Daves has a problem with the ending of many of his films. The Last Wagon, The Hanging Tree and 3.10 to Yuma all were excellent, except for the final part. In this film when you expect to see great action moments after Captain Jack divides his men to confound the enemy, all that happens is instead told by one character. Marisa Pavan looks beautiful as Toby, the Indian girl that wants peace. There is a good dialog between Bronson and Ladd where they show mutual respect.
  • "Drum Beat", released in 1954 pits Alan Ladd, as an Indian fighter turned peace commissioner, against the leader of the Modoc Indians of N. California, led by Charles Bronson. Ladd, as Johnny McKay, has an intense bitterness towards Indians in general, as they had slaughtered his family years earlier. However, Pres. Grant desires him to work with the Modoc tribe, in particular, to bring peace in the area of California and Oregon. The Modoc chief, Captain Jack, played by Charles Bronson, feels that an area of land is Modoc land only, and it is his to take, and keep. He also has an intense feeling toward the army medals and blue coats, which, to him, are symbols of power and authority. He even kills a retired army colonel, and seizes the medals off the coat the man was wearing.

    Ladd, with the aid of Modoc Indians that desire peace, attempts to settle the conflict, but hostilities do break out between the tribe and the soldiers. This was the role that Ladd seemed to shine best in, that of the tight-lipped, slow-to-anger, tough guy. Watchable western fare.
  • Drum Beat is written and directed by Delmer Daves. It stars Alan Ladd, Charles Bronson, Robert Keith, Audrey Dalton, Marisa Pavan, Rodolfo Acosta, Warner Anderson, Elisha Cook Jr and Anthony Caruso. A CinemaScope/Warnercolor production, music is scored by Victor Young and cinematography by J. Peverell Marley.

    Alan Ladd is Indian fighter Johnny Mackay, who is ordered by President Ulysses Grant (Hayden Rorke) to negotiate with the Modoc Indians in an attempt to avert war...

    Utterly frustrating! One of the most attractive looking Westerns of the fifties, Daves' movie doesn't quite have the courage of its convictions. The core basis of the film is sound, though as we are told from the off, it features fictionalised enhancements to further dramatic impact. Snatching from a little known part of the Indian Wars from 1872/3 (to be applauded), that of the Modoc Uprising, film is set in 1869 around the Oregon-California border. Plot and story are put in place neatly, where the characters are interesting, the back drop of various Arizona locations is simply in "scope" gorgeous, and the narrative promises some boldness as the first person killed is an innocent woman and the white man protagonists are fuelled by anger and hatred. But...

    Unfortunately with a running time of one hour and fifty minutes, many passages of chatter never really expand the characters. Something which is not usually applicable to Delmer Daves when he was on form. We should be getting high grade dramatic worth from the principle players, their conversations should ping with emotion and depth, after being set up as people with voices to be heard, we never get a real grasp of Mackay's inner conflict, or Captain Jack's (Bronson) staunch loyalty to his cause, or even the depth and reasoning of Bill Satterwhite's (Keith) hatred. While there is, as the historians will tell you, a severe dilution of the story to suit the white man's cause. It's hard to believe this is the same director of Broken Arrow from four years earlier! But then Daves wasn't writing the screenplay....

    Maybe Daves felt he needed to better the screenplay for Broken Arrow? To show he could put down on the page some "liberal" quality as well as directing? He would prove post Drum Beat that he could "co-write" great Western screenplays (Jubal/White Feather/The Last Wagon), but here on his own he falls short. Not only does it skulk in the shadow of Broken Arrow, it also pales into insignificance to Anthony Mann's brilliant Devil's Doorway, which was also from 1950. You can feel Daves striving for relevance in the mid fifties, but he is trumped by narrative zest elsewhere, a shame since the acting performances and production quality make Drum Beat very watchable.

    Visually it's superb, Sedona's various natural beauties are excellently captured by Peverell Marley (The Left Handed Gun/Westbound), while Daves proves adept at utilising the landscapes as part of his action sequences (check out the red rock rifle engagement scene). Young's score is a goodie, blending bombastic beats with ballad strains, and the Warnercolor is gorgeous, one of the better Warnercolor productions that I have seen. Acting wise it's Bronson's movie, physically perfect and featuring a shifty aggressive ebullience that's most appealing. Ladd scores well, too, nicely underplayed at the critical moments, Keith has a thespian quality that suits the role of an Indian hating aggressor, and Elisha Cook provides weasel smarts that make us yearn for his part to have been bigger.

    Some have questioned why this isn't better known or worthy of a widespread home format release? The answer is that simply it has more style than substance, and Daves, as much as us Western fans love him, is to blame from a writing perspective. Visually and aurally the film ranks a comfortable 9/10. As a whole, sadly, it rounds out as 6.5/10.
  • While the plot of DRUM BEAT is based on a true incident during frontier days on the plains, nothing about the film suggests that it's any more than a standard Cavalry vs. Indians western seen hundreds of times since the movies were born.

    However, credit director Delmer Daves for finding some gorgeous locations for his story and casting Charles Bronson and Anthony Caruso as Indians who look marvelously authentic in their make-up. Not so fortunate are Marisa Pavan and Audrey Dalton in the weak female roles that could have been played by any young ingénue on the Warner lot.

    Alan Ladd is the Indian expert hired by President Grant to make peaceful overtures to the Modocs, headed by Bronson. Elisha Cook, Jr. is interesting as a corrupt Indian trader and most of the supporting roles get good results, especially in the action scenes, all of which are well-staged by director Daves. Especially good is a climactic fight between Ladd and Bronson as they tumble down a rushing stream and fall over the rocky terrain. Ladd seems to be doing most of his stunts in this action-packed scene.

    But otherwise, he delivers a rather stoic performance, showing barely any expression even in his brief love scenes with Audrey Dalton. Hard to tell if he was bored or just impatient with the routine script.

    All in all, worth watching for the action scenes and the handsome landscapes filmed in beautiful WideScreen Technicolor.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    My review title is a paraphrasing of Captain Jack, as a priest apparently is attempting a death-bed conversion: one of the few bits of humor in this otherwise serious drama of the Modoc War of 1872-3.

    As was usual for this era, in a western with a claimed historical basis, the amount of fictionalization is grossly understated in the opening claim. This film presents a mixed bag of fairly accurate history, unnecessarily garbled history, and pure fiction, relating to the last series of confrontations between the small Modoc tribe of the CA-OR border region and European settlers and the US army. While many Modocs had reluctantly accepted the reservation offer of 1864, some, including the featured 'Captain Jack', refused to sign the treaty, and returned to their homelands rather than live with their traditional enemies: the Klamath. Eventually, this group agreed to move to the reservation, but continuous harassment by some of the Klamath instigated their eventual return to their home territory. Unfortunately, meanwhile, Europeans had settled on some of their traditional land, leading to continuous conflicts, until the remnants of this group were rounded up and taken back to the reservation.

    Alan Ladd plays the very conflicted hero: Johnny MacKay, who subdues Captain Jack: the last remaining renegade leader, in a shooting-wrestling personal confrontation, including a fight while being swept down a river. Ladd isn't exactly my favorite action actor: usually appearing as less than dynamic: a quiet forcefulness. Upon reading about the history of the Modoc War, I can conclude that this character is based on a blend of several historical personages, plus a strong dose of pure fiction. He presumably represents the lone survivor of the Modoc reprisal massacre of a wagon train, known as the Bloody Point massacre. The most important historical personage contributions to his character are Alfred Meacham: Superintendent of Oregon Indian Affairs during part of this time, and the 2 army scouts who captured Captain Jack.

    One of the major failings of this film as good history is the refusal to recognize the critical importance of the failure of the US government to act on Meacham's recommendation that the Modoc be given their own reservation, adjacent to their shared reservation with the Klamath, as the obvious means of peacefully ending the problem. This could have saved many lives on both sides, as well as being much cheaper than waging the war and making this movie! It was a very Pyrrhic victory for the US government, as sometimes dramatized in this film...Also, MacKay several times incorrectly claims that Captain Jack signed the 1864 treaty, thus his return to the Lost River region is in violation of that treaty.

    The friend-enemy relationship between MacKay and Captain Jack is complex and the heart of this story, with MacKay's romance with the fictional Nancy Meek in the background: the latter pair's future plans symbolizing the recent settlers in the Modoc's former homeland. Charles Bronson is good as Captain Jack.

    The Modoc woman Toby is misrepresented as unmarried and proposing marriage to MacKay. Also, she dies in the ambush at the peace conference, in contrast to the historic Toby...Isabel Jewel becomes the first random victim of Modoc revenge, as the stagecoach driver's talkative sex-crazed new wife: the type of role Isabel was typecast to play, in a long career as minor low-life characters.

    As the film points out, Captain Jack was by no means a bloodthirsty savage. In fact, the reason he and a few others were hanged had to do with one incident, in which he personally killed General Canby, in an ambush at a peace conference. This centerpiece scene is presented with appropriate tension. As dramatized, he did this very reluctantly, only at the urging of other leaders, including Hooker Jim(Modoc Jim , in the film). Hooker Jim had previous led various raids against settlers, as well dramatized in the film, and was wanted for murder. He hoped, by killing important leaders at this conference, the army would give up. Instead, this incident caused national outrage. Ironically , Hooker Jim was granted a pardon for his murders, in return for helping in the hunt for Captain Jack's bunch: not brought out in the film.

    By being filmed in the rugged scenic country around Sedona , AZ, the film cannot fully convey the extreme difficulty of capturing the Modocs holed up in the treacherous lava tube cave country of present Lava Beds National Monument....,Victor Young provides some good background music to accompany the scenic country, but the film includes precious little humor.

    While Charles Bronson, who plays Captain jack, and Marisa Favan, who plays Toby, clearly don't look fully like Native Americans, Rodolfo Acosta, who plays the historic Scarface Charlie, Anthony Caruso, who plays the fictional Manok, Frank DeKova and Perry Lopez, who play other Modoc leaders, were more successful in looking like possible Modocs. Richard Gains plays the historic Dr. Thomas: prominent spokesman for a peaceful solution: one of those murdered in the 'peace conference'. Eliza Cook plays Blain Crackel: an outspoken pro-Modoc, secretly supplying them with repeater rifles, but ultimately shot by a Modoc, as a random victim... Robert Keith plays Crackel's opponent: the stage driver who advocates revenge upon the Modoc, especially for killing his sexy wife.

    General Canby had previously been most noteworthy in his successful patient defense of New Mexico Territory against an invasion by a Confederate army, in a bid to ultimately capture the Colorado gold fields to the north. Previous to this, he had been unsuccessful in stopping raids by Navajos on settlers in and near their territory. Just finding the guilty, in their vast rugged territory, usually proved impossible.
  • Captain Jack, the Modoc leader, is depicted as a murderous savage throughout, despite being somewhat admired by the white hero, Alan Ladd, yet the film fails to mention that until the early 1870's the State of California was still offering bounties on Indian scalps, men, women, and children.

    The Modocs had been deported to Oregon, and forced to share the reservations of their tribal enemies, and had only returned to their homes in California because they were being murdered.

    In fact, it was the white immigrants to California who had murderously attacked, enslaved, and persecuted the Modoc Indians, because they happened to live in "Gold Country," and the more-or-less official policy of the California Government was to "drive the native Indians into the sea," if at all possible, but in the meantime they could legally be sold and used as slaves, despite the fact that California was nominally a "Free" State.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Poor Alan Ladd. Sent by President Grant to make peace with the Modoc people along Oregon's Emigrant Trail, he must have boarded the wrong train in St. Louis, and ended up in Arizona's red rock country.

    The script makes clever use of a jumble of historical facts, yet confusion reigns. Chief Schonchin led the Modocs and signed the treaty of 1864, not Kintpuash (the Charles Bronson character named "Captain Jack" in the film). Kintpauash did lead a band of Modocs to Lost River, because the resources on the reservation could not supply enough food for the Klamath and Modoc tribes both who were assigned there.

    Before the Modocs "went on the war path", they asked the California government and the Federal government to intercede. Both refused to act, leaving the Modocs with the no-win choice of movement towards confrontation or starvation.

    If you like westerns, as I do, you can find better selections. This film is highly melodramatic, historically inaccurate, and set in the wrong location.

    For fellow Alan Ladd fans, allow me to suggest the excellent story based on theme of the reluctant hero, Shane.
  • The only reason I saw this film is because is starred Alan Ladd. Other than that, it really has nothing special to add to the 134427923459329 other westerns made during this era (don't believe me? I counted!). Sure, it has nice scenery and decent acting, but the plot is quite ordinary.

    The film begins with Alan Ladd being summoned to the White House to talk with President Grant. It seems that Ladd was called because he is a famed 'Indian fighter' and knows a lot about the recent uprisings among the Modoc Indians in the Washington/Oregon area (though the film sure didn't look that that part of the country to me). Ladd is given a commission as a Peace Commissioner--to pacify the problems, not just go in and kill everyone!

    As Peace Commissioner, Ladd is in a bind. Some settlers and a cavalry officer and his wife have been murdered. The settlers are calling for action, but Ladd can't just start killing Indians without knowing exactly who was at fault. Ladd's job sure looks like a tough one.

    When you see Captain Jack (not the pirate but the leader of these Indians), you will not be surprised that he's not played by a real American-Indian--this was very typical for the time period. Heck, the 1950s saw the likes of Rock Hudson(!), Jeff Chandler and other non-natives playing Indians. In this film, Charles Bronson (!!) plays the renegade Indian warrior--the same man of Lithuanian ancestry who was born Charles Buchinsky! Well, at least he WAS able to carry off the role, as despite his very white ancestry his chiseled looks were a reasonable approximation for a Modoc Indian--though his nose is clearly not correct (you can't win 'em all). Anthony Caruso, an Italian-American, also plays a Modoc tribesman but frankly, he WAS able to carry off playing an Indian very well and you'd swear he was one himself. And, Mexican-born Rodolfo Acosta also plays one of the tribesmen. IMDb did not indicate he had Indian blood, either, but he, too, at least looked like a very good approximation of a Modoc Indian.

    This is a well-polished and decent western with good production values. However, aside from discussing the Modocs (hardly a tribe mentioned in a typical western), there really is nothing new here. The Indians are, generally, shown as unreasonable savages and the day is saved by a combination of macho-Ladd and the US Cavalry. I am quite sure that the Modocs would have a different interpretations of these hostilities! Watchable and well made but also quite ordinary.

    By the way, although the dates are wrong and several important omissions occur, the general facts of the film were essentially correct (there WAS a Captain Jack, for instance as well as a hold-out in the mountains by the warriors). There was a lot of friction between the Modoc tribe and settlers--with quite a few 'massacres'. However, by 1876 (when the film is set), the Modocs had been forcibly moved to Oklahoma and their leader hanged following the killing of a US Major. It makes for interesting reading and is actually a lot more interesting than this movie.
  • This film is not good treating the Indians, normally the directors in Hollywood in the past go to the facts or consequences of initial disagreement between Indians and whites but not to what whites did it with the Indians, i.e. the real cause of the problem. Did the director Delmer Daves try to show why and how the Modocs were moved from their reservation in Northern California to one in Oregon? Why did the whites move the Modocs from their home? What were the real causes of the war? Instead we have the consequences of mistreating Indians, a film with many Indians killed and so many white people wanting to make "justice". The Indians by themselves were always peaceful and this film shows an image totally absurd. Personally I do not know the whole history but it is doubtful that Captain Jack was a terrorist as he is shown. Even there is some incoherence the way Charles Bronson (Captain Jack) behaved during the battles and how presumably he killed General Canby with the other Captain Jack caught by the army and condemned. Reading a little bit about Johnny MacKay one may be doubtful about his so peaceful intentions as shown in the film. This material does not make any justice with the Modocs. When one sees such a film finally accepts that Marlon Brando was right.
  • The stronghold was actually in the lava beds of northern california, now a monument ... this indian war got strung out mostly because army resupply came over the mountains from medford by mule to the klamath valley ... the modocs were successful by inhibiting the resupply ... there is a book called the modoc wars that explains all
  • A fairly scenic Western which boasts that it is based on true events, and announces in the beginning that it does take literary license to make it more entertaining, so there's no beef about that.

    Ladd plays Indian fighter Johnny, who has a hate-like-hate relationship with Captain Jack, played by Charles Bronson, and is on a first name basis with the leading thugs that accompany Captain Jack.

    Captain Jack is a Modoc Native American, but he is not a real captain. He steals medals from officers he kills. The real leaders of the Modoc don't trust him, and think little of him. Same for his main cohorts.

    He makes a name for himself in villainy, and President Grant tries to quell his killing peacefully. He sees the importance of keeping peace with the good Modoc people who would make good neighbors.

    As with any Delmer Daves directed movie, we know his high handed American Nazi ideology will prevail, and he will force the issue to kill at least one beautiful brunette woman. One must wonder if Daves was once jilted and humiliated by a brown eyed brunette, in order to make him continually do this.

    It is just one of the "forced" looking events that take place in this movie. More "forced" is the direction, in which Daves seems to want to display certain lines and characteristics in very unnatural looking sequences of events. It looks like Daves had in mind to make sure certain lines were spoken, and certain images taken. It almost looks like a movie made by a story book artist.

    Daves is a bit more subdued in this movie than in most movies, however, and it probably is the best of his works, which isn't saying much.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Drum Beat" is notable on two counts. First it was Warner Bros. first wide screen CinemaScope picture and second it marked the first film in which Charles Buchinsky became Charles Bronson.

    Indian Fighter Johnny MacKay (Alan Ladd) is summoned to Washington by President U.S. Grant (Hayden Rourke) where he is appointed Peace Commissioner with a mission to make peace with renegade Modoc Captain Jack (Bronson). Accompanying him back to California is Nancy Meek (Audrey Dalton). The intended of stagecoach driver Bill Salterwhite is murdered by Modoc Jim (Frank DeKova) and Bill vows revenge.

    Later, during a meeting between MacKay and Captain Jack, Bill kills Modoc Jim thus starting an Indian war with the soldiers headed by General Canby (Warner Anderson). Peaceful Modocs Toby (Marisa Pavan) and Monok (Anthony Carouso) try to help MacKay in his quest for peace. A meeting is set up between Gen. Canby and Captain Jack but then.......................................................

    Alan Ladd made some pretty good westerns over the years but is woefully miscast in this one. It is hard to imagine the clean cut Johnny MacKay as a one time fierce Indian fighter. His buckskin jacket seems tailor made and he shows nary a whisker. Most Hollywood Indian fighters were grizzled unkempt mountain men. Not so here.

    Delmer Daves makes good use of the wide screen. He gives us beautiful panoramic shots of the mountainous regions together with those of the vast countryside. Victor Young as always, provides an excellent musical score. A lot of action and well staged battle scenes abound. The less said about the love triangle between Ladd, Dalton and Pavan the better.

    Other recognizable faces include Elisha Cook as a gun running Indian Agent, Rodolpho Acosta as Scarface Charlie, George J. Lewis as Captain Clark, Perry Lopez as Bogus Charlie and Denver Pyle, Richard Hale, Stother Martin and Peter Hansen in smaller roles.

    There is also an amusing little scene at the beginning with James Griffith as a White House sentry who advises MacKay how to get in to see the President.