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Distant Drums (1951)

6.6
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 881 users  
Reviews: 22 user | 5 critic

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

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Distant Drums (1951)

Distant Drums (1951) on IMDb 6.6/10

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Mari Aldon ...
Judy Beckett
Richard Webb ...
Lt. Richard Tufts
...
Pvt. Mohair
Arthur Hunnicutt ...
Monk
Robert Barrat ...
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Storyline

Navy Lieutenant Tufts accompanies scout Quincy Wyatt into the Everglades to rout the Seminole Indians who are threatening the early settlers in Florida. When the command is forced to run, Wyatt and Seminole Chief Oscala square off in an exciting climax. Written by Buxx Banner <buxx572@aol.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

everglades | scout | fort | florida | torture | See more »

Genres:

Action | Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

29 December 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Distant Drums  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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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. See more »

Goofs

When the famous "Wilhelm scream" is used for the part that a man is attacked by an alligator and drawn under water the scream can still be heard while already being under water. See more »

Quotes

Monk: [tiring of the diet] Fish and turtles! Nothing but fish and turtles! I'm about to grow gills!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in High Heels (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Mundane plotting off set by zippy action and smart location work.
3 September 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Distant Drums is directed by Raoul Walsh and stars Gary Cooper, Richard Webb, Mari Aldon & Arthur Hunnicutt. Known as a "Florida Western," the film is set during the Seminole Wars in the 1840s. It's written by Niven Busch and Martin Rackin, photographed predominantly on location in the Florida Everglades (in Technicolor) by Sidney Hickox and Max Steiner scores the music. Plot sees Cooper playing an Army captain who after destroying a fort held by the Seminole Indians retreats with his party into the Everglades where many of natures dangers lurk as the Seminole pursue them.

Not one for fans of Cooper, Walsh or Busch to get excited about. The story is as conventional as it gets, complete with a romantic angle, and the dialogue is boorish and lacking imagination. Were it not for the excellently constructed action sequences (check out the under water scenes) and the lush location photography, then this one would be consigned to the "please steer away from" pile. Busch is the main culprit since his writing is confused as to what it wants to achieve. The Seminole Indians are painted as savages, thus giving a one sided feel to a War not often seen in movies, yet other Native Americans are handled more sympathetically via the portrayal from Cooper. All in all we learn nothing about the War and the people involved as the film winds up as a jungle like adventure built around a number of set pieces.

Cooper is rugged and watchable as an Alligator Dundee type and Hunnicutt as always leaves a favourable impression as the scout. Mari Aldon is pretty but pretty one dimensional, while Richard Webb just seems out of place in the perilous locale and therefore unconvincing. But as previously mentioned, nobody here is helped by the tepid script. It's believed that this movie features the earliest known use of the Wilhelm Scream sound effect, a technique used to vocalise a character being torn to shreds by an alligator. A standard film it is then, one that really should have been a fine entry into a sadly untapped in to topic. It's like getting a beautifully wrapped birthday present that when opened reveals nothing but strips of mouldy old newspaper. 5/10


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