Distant Drums (1951)

Approved  |   |  Action, Western  |  29 December 1951 (USA)
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Reviews: 23 user | 9 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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Complete credited cast:
Mari Aldon ...
Richard Webb ...
Lt. Richard Tufts
Pvt. Mohair
Robert Barrat ...


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


Action | Western


Approved | See all certifications »


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Release Date:

29 December 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Teufelsbrigade  »

Company Credits

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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 »


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 »


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 The Mist (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

The scenery outdoes the content of this rare Seminole War film.
29 July 2002 | by (Tampa, Florida) – See all my reviews

There are not very many films depicting the 2nd Seminole War of 1835-1842, in Florida. This is unfortunate as this was not only America's longest, but its bloodiest Indian war as well. Other films relating to this conflict include Seminole, and Naked in the Sun. Due to the sparsity of Seminole War films I will admit a bias for this film despite its ridiculous plot, bargain basement Hollywood surplus wardrobe (The soldiers are in a mix of fanciful fringed pants and ca. 1898 Spanish-American War hats and shirts etc.), and anachronistic armaments(the soldiers are using M-1873 Trapdoor carbines, the Seminoles the full length M-1873 rifle-both sides used flintlock weapons in 1840). A large chunk of the plot surrounds Cuban gun runners supporting the Warriors. In truth, despite 7 years of naval blockade of the Florida Coast, the US Navy never proved the fears of such a trade from Cuba...I could go on and on... True, this is nothing more than a transplanted "western" in the Swamps of Florida, although I detect a great deal of Director Walsh's previous Objective Burma in this flick (compare the gator pit in the Seminole village with the similar scene in the Japanese held village in Objective Burma) The true star of this one is the scenery, as, almost alone amongst the few Seminole War films, this one takes full advantage of the wildly beautiful Florida Wilderness. Other comments note the great underwater battle scene, but I am spellbound by the cypress swamp and saw-grass settings as well. You won't learn much about the War from this movie, but it does have some basis in fact. By 1840 the army was relying on small patrols like Cooper's in the film to track down hostile Seminoles for removal to the west. Thats about as close as it comes to the history books, but it is still an exciting action film with an O.K. musical score.

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