A Thunder of Drums (1961)

Approved  |   |  Western  |  14 November 1961 (Japan)
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 5.9/10 from 419 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 2 critic

The trials and tribulations of bitter veteran Captain Maddocks and argumentative rookie Lieutenant McQuade at a cavalry desert outpost.


(as Joseph Newman)
0Check in
1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

X-15 (1961)
Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

During the Cold War in the 1960s the U.S.A.F.and NASA tested the experimental rocket-powered aircraft X-15 that set altitude and speed records and reached the edge of outer space.

Director: Richard Donner
Stars: David McLean, Charles Bronson, Ralph Taeger
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A Rebel vet, O'Meara has refused to surrender when Lee does at Appomattox. O'Meara travels west and after escaping from, he joins the Sioux and takes a wife. After denouncing himself as an ... See full summary »

Director: Samuel Fuller
Stars: Rod Steiger, Sara Montiel, Brian Keith
Sci-Fi | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  

The world in the late 19th century: A scientist and his team are held as "guests" of Robur on his airship, that he want to use to ensure peace on earth. Peace with all, even if he has to ... See full summary »

Director: William Witney
Stars: Vincent Price, Charles Bronson, Henry Hull
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.4/10 X  

A Southern States official returns home after the Civil War and has to see that in his village the law is in the hands of a few scrupoulos people.

Director: Edward Ludwig
Stars: John Payne, Jan Sterling, Coleen Gray
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

In 1743, outlaw Leon Alastray is hunted by the Spanish army but is given sanctuary by a priest in a village terrorized by marauding Yaqui Indians.

Director: Henri Verneuil
Stars: Anthony Quinn, Anjanette Comer, Charles Bronson
Fort Massacre (1958)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A cavalry troop finds itself under constant attack by Indians.

Director: Joseph M. Newman
Stars: Joel McCrea, Forrest Tucker, Susan Cabot
War | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

In 1945, a GI falls in-love with a German woman while elite German troops, in U.S.uniforms, carry out sabotage and assassinations behind American lines.

Director: Kenneth G. Crane
Stars: Charles Bronson, Richard Jaeckel, Violet Rensing
Romance | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Two men are released from the Arizona Territorial Prison at Yuma in 1898. One, the Dutchman, is out to get both gold and revenge from the people of a small mining town who had him ... See full summary »

Director: Delmer Daves
Stars: Alan Ladd, Ernest Borgnine, Katy Jurado
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

At the closing of 1874 a haunted, dying Wild Bill Hickcock teams up with a grieving Crazy Horse to hunt a murderous albino buffalo.

Director: J. Lee Thompson
Stars: Charles Bronson, Jack Warden, Will Sampson
Action | Biography | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Machine-Gun Kelly, the famous bank robber, seldom without his Thompson machine gun. The story opens with great jazzy music and a murder shown in shadows. His moll is the driving force ... See full summary »

Director: Roger Corman
Stars: Charles Bronson, Susan Cabot, Morey Amsterdam
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

Wagon train scout Linc Murdock reminisces about his old feud with rancher Rance Macklin over pretty Maria during the time when Linc worked for the Macklin ranch.

Director: Boris Sagal
Stars: Charles Bronson, Susan Oliver, Kurt Russell
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

A deputy marshal kills a murderer in a town that loved him, and when no one is willing to identify him, he can't collect any reward.

Director: Gene Fowler Jr.
Stars: Charles Bronson, Robert Hutton, John Carradine


Cast overview, first billed only:
Lt. Curtis McQuade
Luana Patten ...
Tracey Hamilton
Sgt. Karl Rodermill
Trooper Hanna
Lt. Porter
James Douglas ...
Lt. Thomas Gresham
Tammy Marihugh ...
Laurie Detweiler
Camden Yates
Trooper Eddy
Trooper Erschick
Clem Harvey ...
Trooper Denton
Casey Tibbs ...
Trooper Baker
Irene Tedrow ...
Mrs. Scarborough
Marjorie Bennett ...
Mrs. Yates


Captain Maddocks will never be promoted beyond Captain because of a mistake that he made in the past. Lt. McQuade is a green rookie who is now under the command of the tough Captain and he does not seem to be able to do anything right. Lt. McQuade also has trouble with Tracey, but it will be the renegade Indians that will test him and teach him the importance of following orders. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A regiment of forgotten men... a woman no man could forget!




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

14 November 1961 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Tonnerre apache  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The film recorded a loss of $42,000, according to MGM records. See more »


On the night before the final battle: around the campfire, bottom right, ribbed shoe-prints are clearly visible in the dust. They were obviously made by modern footwear with synthetic soles. See more »


Captain Stephen Maddocks: Bachelors make the best soldiers. All they have to lose is their loneliness.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

salvaged by Richard Boone
13 January 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I have a soft spot for b-movies and random westerns. This one is a run-of-the-mill cavalry vs. Indians job that suffers from uneven pacing, a miscast lead role, and over-reliance on formula plot elements. But there are a few interesting points that make it worth watching.

One of its chief virtues is the excellent job it does of capturing the day to day flavor of life in a remote cavalry outpost in 1870s southwest. The military manners, habits, and routines are portrayed with convincing detail. The class stratification between enlisted men and officers is utterly real. An early scene with dead soldiers being transported on horseback is played to grim, nauseating effect, with enlisted men displaying hardened indifference and black humor about the situation. All of this gives the film some weight and veracity.

On the other hand, it suffers from generic Hollywood artificiality, relying unthinkingly on shoot 'em up conventions of faceless Indians, and sporting a formulaic romantic triangle subplot. Another major problem is George Hamilton's performance. The character he plays is not particularly sympathetic or likable, and he does nothing to bring depth to it. He's unappealingly flat and cocky. A better actor in this key role would've gone a long way toward breathing some life into the film, especially in its flabby, tedious midsection.

But the real reason to watch this film is Richard Boone. I've liked him in just about everything I've seen him in, but here he is completely riveting. He plays the tough, smart, experienced commander of the undermanned outpost. He's a lonely man, who feels keenly the burden of his job. Late in the film there's a scene where he discovers a scene of carnage, with a number of his men dead, and his controlled rage is very moving. He brings the only real gravitas and feeling to the movie, effectively communicating the weight of life & death decisions and consequences. He's absolutely terrific.

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

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Has Anyone Else Ever Noticed? lexyladyjax
A THUNDER OF DRUMS Now Available On DVD lexyladyjax
Discuss A Thunder of Drums (1961) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for: