In 1872, Indian fighter Johnny MacKay is appointed peace commissioner for the California and Oregon territory but he faces tough opposition from the renegade Modocs led by their brutal chief Captain Jack.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Johnny MacKay
...
Nancy Meek
...
Toby
...
Bill Satterwhite
...
Scarface Charlie
...
Kintpuash, aka Captain Jack
...
Gen. Canby
...
Blaine Crackel
...
Manok
Richard Gaines ...
Dr. Thomas
...
...
Modoc Jim
...
Bogus Charlie
...
Lily White
Peggy Converse ...
Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant
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Storyline

President Grant orders Indian fighter MacKay to negotiate with the Modocs of northern California and southern Oregon. On the way he must escort Nancy Meek to the home of her aunt and uncle. After Modoc renegade Captain Jack engages in ambush and other atrocities, MacKay must fight him one-on-one with guns, knives and fists. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They called him a 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 ! See more »

Genres:

Western | Adventure

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

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Release Date:

8 April 1955 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Delmer Daves' Drum Beat  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,100,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording) (magnetic prints)| (optical prints)

Color:

(WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Actor Charles Buchinsky (his birth name) changed his name to Charles Bronson,using his new moniker for the first time in this film,and remained so for the rest of his acting career. See more »

Goofs

When the woman on the stagecoach is shot by a Modoc arrow, if you look closely you can see the filament wire used to "guide" the prop arrow to its target. See more »

Quotes

Gen. Canby: Sometimes it is as necessary to take risks to win peace as it is in war to win victories.
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Connections

Featured in Cinema: Alguns Cortes - Censura II (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Drum Beat
Music by Victor Young
Lyrics by Ned Washington
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User Reviews

 
A Little Known True Incident
24 November 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

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.


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