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Distant Drums (1951)

Approved | | Action, Drama, Romance | 29 December 1951 (USA)
After destroying a Seminole fort, American soldiers and their rescued companions must face the dangerous Everglades and hostile Indians in order to reach safety.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Lt. Richard Tufts
Pvt. Mohair


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


Against unseen jungle terrors and untamed savage tribes ... and pounding war-drums that echoed his challenge !


Approved | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

29 December 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Teufelsbrigade  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


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 »


Before the soldier shouts the Wilhelm scream the line towing the alligator underwater can be seen clearly. See more »


Capt. Quincy Wyatt: You just didn't didn't come over here to pass the time of day. W-what's troublin' your mind?
Judy Beckett: Well, since you ask, I'm a little curious to know if I'm gonna get out of here alive.
Capt. Quincy Wyatt: Why should you know more than anyone else?
Judy Beckett: Because I've got a lot to do. I've made too many plans for too long a time to have them all end up in a swamp.
Capt. Quincy Wyatt: Well, all I can tell you to ease your mind is that I don't intend to commit suicide.
See more »

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." See more »


Referenced in QI: Film (2009) See more »

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User Reviews

A small group of adventurers facing Indians during Seminola war in the Florida Everglades
6 March 2012 | by See all my reviews

Army Lieutenant Tufts (Richard Webb) is assigned a dangerous mission by General Zachary Taylor (Robert Barrat). He must accompany captain Quincy Wyatt (Gary Cooper) along with a scout named Monk (Arthur Hunnicutt with his usual raccoon skin hat ) into the Everglades to rout the Seminole Indians who are threatening the early settlers in Florida. After destroying a Seminole fort , people is rescued from Redskin captivity , then the command is forced to get away . The small band of American soldiers and their rescued companions ( Mari Aldon among others )tries to stop and must face the dangerous Everglades and hostile Indians in order to reach safety and battle against risks.

This exciting Western packs thrills , noisy action , spectacular struggles and lots of gutsy adventure . Brawling , sprawling , almost primitive action, teeming across the screen . Impressive images when Wyatt and Seminole Chief Oscala square off in a breathtaking climax . Raoul Walsh demonstrates a special talent for making the densest action sequences seem uncomplicated and uncluttered and his characters , like the scenes distinguished , often have an unfettered , raw power . Gorgeous Mari Aldon as a ballerina from Savannah who bears a dark past , she does an enjoyable and prominent debut though didn't have a notorious career . Good secondary cast with familiar hearted features as Richard Webb, Robert Barrat , Arthur Hunnicutt , Ray Teal and uncredited Darren McGavin as Navy Lt. The picture was photographed by Sidney Hickox in the heart of the Florida everglades , at Silver Sprags and at Castillo of San Marcos in the Southeastern nation , monuments through the courtesy of the United States Department of Interior National Park Service. Thrilling as well as emotive musical score by the classic Alfred Newman .

The motion picture produced by Milton Sperling is well directed by Raoul Walsh . From his starts in the silent cinema he achieved successful films until the 50s and forward , early 60s , when he was less dominant , but is still stayed lots of lusty adventure , stories of comradeship and friendship , and Raoul makes the most of plentiful action scenes . Walsh was an expert director of all kind genres but with penchant in Western as ¨Colorado territory¨ , ¨They died with their boots on¨, ¨Along the great divide¨, ¨Saskatchewan¨, ¨King and four queens¨ , ¨The sheriff of fractured jaw¨, ¨A distant trumpet¨ ; Adventure as ¨Thief of Bagdad¨, ¨Captain Horatio Hornblower¨, ¨World in his hands¨, ¨Blackbeard the pirate¨ , ¨Sea devils¨ ; Warlike as ¨Objetive Burma¨ , ¨Northern pursuit¨, ¨Marines let's go¨ ; and Noir film as ¨White heat¨, ¨High Sierra¨, ¨They drive by night¨, ¨The roaring twenties¨. Rating : Fairly straightforward movie and above average . This interesting Western and action film makes it of the finest of Raoul Walsh genre entries.

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