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A Thunder of Drums (1961)

Approved | | Western | 14 November 1961 (Japan)
The trials and tribulations of bitter veteran Captain Maddocks and argumentative rookie Lieutenant McQuade at a cavalry desert outpost.


(as Joseph Newman)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lt. Curtis McQuade
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
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 »


Tracey Hamilton: It's an eye-opener to a girl when she finds her body can trap her decency.
See more »

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User Reviews

A Thunder of Drums
7 July 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is a very good and mostly forgotten western that made the rounds in 1961. In 1960 MGM paired Luana Patten and a young George Hamilton in the feature film with Robert Mitchum, "Home from the Hill"....figuring on cashing in on the teenage and young adult crowd director Joseph Newman paired them again in this top notch western. Story concerns a desolate, poorly supplied western fort somewhere in the southwest trying to fend off Indian attacks on unsuspecting settlers...The post is ran by Captain Maddocks (Richard Boone), a crusty, worn out, cantankerous old bird whose military career has passed him by and put him in charge of this desolate hole....by coincidence, a fresh young officer (Lt. McQuade) played by George Hamilton arrives at the fort attempting to make a name for himself...problem is he does not have any practical experience like serving at a fort fighting Indians....he has been put in Provost and office jobs by his father, a General.....oddly enough, the very General who basically ended Maddock's career for an oversight. Maddocks immediately runs roughshod over McQuade and makes his life generally miserable since he is considered a greenhorn officer on a fort that needs reliable veterans who know how to fight and outfox Indians. To complicate matters more, McQuade's former girlfriend is ensconced on the fort and engaged to another officer while still loving McQuade (Hamilton)......she is played by the lovely Luana Patten. Tensions get worse between Patten, McQuade's fellow officers at the fort and Captain Maddocks. McQuade is torn between his duty, his hatred of Captain Maddocks, and his hidden passion for Patten. Fireworks explode when Hamilton is seen embracing Patten by her fiancé. Oddly enough things start to work out for Hamilton as Maddocks is forced to send him out on patrol.....McQuade shows his mettle and leadership and impresses most of the soldiers. Charles Bronson plays a meddling, snaky private who tries to show up Hamilton's affair with the lovely Tracy. A big fight erupts and Hamilton holds his own.... In the end Hamilton becomes Maddock's favorite officer and a strange friendship starts to bloom. Patten, realizing that her love for Hamilton will never work out soon departs the fort and leaves for good. A top notch cast, including Arthur O'Connell, Charles Bronson, Richard Chamberlin, Boone and Hamilton.....a mute girl in the film is played by Tammi Marihugh. It is hard to figure out why this film has never been released on DVD or rarely seen on television.....it is one of the top westerns of the 60s, but not given much recognition. Richard Boone was perfectly cast as the cantankerous Captain Maddocks....this is a western you would want to see.

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