Drum Beat (1954)

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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.... See full summary »



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


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


Only the fierce Modocs knew the terrible meaning of each beat of the Drum ! See more »


Western | Adventure


See all certifications »




Release Date:

8 April 1955 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Delmer Daves' Drum Beat  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

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



Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


General Edward Canby, whose death is depicted in this movie, was in reality the only U.S. army general killed during the American Indian Wars. "General" G. A. Custer, killed at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876, was not in fact a general at the time of his death. After the Civil War, he held the permanent rank of Lieutenant Colonel. See more »


This movie was based on the 1869 Modoc Indian uprising in northern California, yet they show 44-40 lever action Winchester rifles, which were not introduced until 1873. See more »


Blaine Crackel: Modoc Jim says he just wants to see how thick your door is, Bill.
Bill Satterwhite: What business is that of his?
Blaine Crackel: Well, he says the last time he fired at you, the arrow didn't go through it. He says the next time, he's going to use a heavier bow.
Bill Satterwhite: Take your stinking fingers off that door!
See more »


Featured in The Good Life (2007) See more »


Drum Beat
Music by Victor Young
Lyrics by Ned Washington
See more »

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User Reviews

Handsomely produced western in gorgeous WideScreen color...
9 January 2012 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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