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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. 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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Handsomely produced western in gorgeous WideScreen color...
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.
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