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The Drum (1938)

Not Rated | | Adventure, War | 29 September 1938 (USA)
During the British Raj, Captain Carruthers works under cover to track smuggled shipments of arms on the restless Northwest Frontier of India. He fears a full-scale rebellion is brewing. To ... See full summary »

Director:

Zoltan Korda

Writers:

A.E.W. Mason (by), Lajos Biró (adaptation) (as Lajos Biro) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Sabu ... Prince Azim
Raymond Massey ... Prince Ghul
Roger Livesey ... Capt. Carruthers
Valerie Hobson ... Mrs. Carruthers
David Tree ... Lieut. Escott
Desmond Tester ... Bill Holder
Francis L. Sullivan ... Governor (as Francis L.Sullivan)
Archibald Batty Archibald Batty ... Major Bond
Frederick Culley Frederick Culley ... Dr.Murphy
Amid Taftazani Amid Taftazani ... Mohammed Khan
Laurence Baskcomb Laurence Baskcomb ... Zarullah (as Lawrence Baskcomb)
Roy Emerton Roy Emerton ... Wafadar
Michael Martin Harvey Michael Martin Harvey ... Mullah
Martin Walker Martin Walker ... Herrick
Ronald Adam ... Major Gregoff
Edit

Storyline

During the British Raj, Captain Carruthers works under cover to track smuggled shipments of arms on the restless Northwest Frontier of India. He fears a full-scale rebellion is brewing. To forestall this, the British governor signs a treaty with the friendly, peace-loving ruler of Tokot, a key kingdom in the region, which is described as four days' march northward from Peshawar. Meanwhile, the king's son, Prince Azim, befriends Carruthers and a British drummer boy, Bill Holder, who teaches him how to play the instrument. Written by GusF

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

MEN BATTLE FOR THEIR LIVES... WOMEN FIGHT FOR THEIR LOVE... IN A MIGHTY SAGA OF CONQUEST ON INDIA'S FRONTIER See more »

Genres:

Adventure | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 September 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Drums See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Noiseless Wide Range Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film caused protests when shown in Bombay and Madras, as it was considered by many to be British propaganda. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Round the Film Studios: No. 2 Denham Part 4 (1937) See more »

Soundtracks

Penny For Your Thoughts
(uncredited)
Written by Lee Sims
See more »

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User Reviews

Very un-PC and jingoistic but still quite fun at turns
3 February 2004 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

In colonial India, the natives live happily and peacefully under the kind rule of their British masters. Representing the bond between the two nations, young Prince Azim befriends several of the British officers. However his uncle Ghul is less welcoming of the British and has dark plans to slaughter them and raise a rebellion among the tribes of the hills.

Some critics have pointed to the fact that, if this film were made today, it work spark outrage and be roundly condemned. This view ignores that, when the film was first screened in India in the late 30's, it sparked riots among the populace. However, the statement is true as well as being null and void, for there is zero danger of this film ever being made now! The plot is very pro-Empire and it is brazenly flag waving for the British. Looking back now, the film is laughable in it's depiction of it's characters. The British are kind and loving to all the Indians they encounter, while the Indians love them in return; those that don't are, of course, shifty and untrustworthy.

This is rather insulting if you think about it too much - I must admit I wasn't offended but then I am neither English or Indian and know little of the history that is clearly being twisted here in favour of propaganda. The film does have a nice vein of good humour to it though that prevents it being too heavy, while the battle scenes are of the `up'n'over' school of filming. The plot itself is too simplistic and can't keep the charade up - especially now that it will be clear to most viewers that it isn't a fair telling.

The cast are good, but again, there's no way that an `Indian' film would be shot today in Wales with the majority of the cast in blackface! The standout actor is Sabu. True his character is a little too good to be true but he has cheeky attitude and he is good fun throughout - just a shame his character seem to vanish for about a quarter of the film. The villainous Massey is also good fun and I enjoyed his performance. The British (namely Livesey and Hobson) are very stiff, although they do get the more heroic roles towards the end.

Overall this film is worth seeing as we will hopefully not see quite it's like again. The film is un-PC in casting, script, plot and characters, while the history it claims to tell is nothing more than a flag waving exercise that rightly started angry riots in Indian when it was shown there. However it is worth seeing for the period, the glorious (for the time) Technicolor and an amusing and fun performance from Sabu.


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