12 user 7 critic

South of St. Louis (1949)

Passed | | Western | 6 March 1949 (USA)
The friendship of three Texas Ranchers. Later their ranch was destroyed by Cotrell, of the Union army,and his band of outlaw raiders. The original title was "Distant Drums", this was a description of Civil War army deserters.


Ray Enright


Zachary Gold (story and screenplay), James R. Webb (story and screenplay)




Cast overview:
Joel McCrea ... Kip Davis
Alexis Smith ... Rouge de Lisle
Zachary Scott ... Charlie Burns
Dorothy Malone ... Deborah Miller
Douglas Kennedy ... Lee Price
Alan Hale ... Jake Evarts
Victor Jory ... Luke Cottrell
Bob Steele ... Slim Hansen
Art Smith ... Bronco
Monte Blue ... Capt. Jeffrey
Nacho Galindo ... Manuel


In Missouri during the Civil War, the Three Bell Ranch belonging to Kip Davis, Charlie Burns and Lee Price is destroyed by Luke Cottrell and his guerrilla raiders. Cottrell plunders the region for personal gain rather than in the name of the Union, as he claims. Driven from their land, many settlers move to Texas, still a neutral territory. Kip, Charlie and Lee go to Brownsville, Texas, looking for Cottrell. After a fistfight between Kip and Cottrell, Cottrell is told to leave Texas. While Lee decides to join the Confederate army, Kip and Charlie try to raise money to rebuild their ranch. Eventually, they get involved in smuggling arms for the Confederacy, bypassing the blockade imposed by the Union. This lucrative enterprise brings them into conflict with Cottrell who, after leaving the Union cause, is also smuggling guns out of Mexico. After a series of conflicts, crosses and double-crosses between Cottrell and the three friends, the Confederates capture Brownsville. Kip suggests ... Written by nufs68

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Warner Bros.' Thundering New Triumph!




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Did You Know?


The character "Luke Cottrell" is described as the leader of a band of guerrilla raiders working for the Union army that ravaged the Missouri countryside during the Civil War, robbing and murdering Southern sympathizers. The character is obviously based on the real-life William Quantrill, who was in fact the leader of a band of Confederate guerrillas that terrorized the Missouri and Kansas countryside during the Civil War. His raiders were responsible for the sacking and burning of Lawrence, KS, on Aug. 21, 1863, during which more than 150 men and boys in the town were rounded up and executed. It became known as The Lawrence Massacre. Eventually Quantrill's methods were so brutal--wholesale executions of prisoners, burning and looting towns and villages, etc.--that the Confederacy disowned him and withdrew all support. He was shot in an ambush by Union troops on May 10, 1865, and died in a Union military prison on June 6. See more »


A revolver commonly seen in the film is the famous Colt Single Action Army Revolver. This design did not appear until 1873, much too late for use in the American Civil War. See more »


[after Rouge spurns Charlie's advances in favor of his honest brother Kip]
Charlie Burns: But he doesn't even have a shirt to his name!
Rouge de Lisle: It's not the clothes that make the man, it's how he wears 'em.
See more »


Referenced in Quicksand (1950) See more »


Too Much Love
Music by Ray Heindorf
Lyrics by Ralph Blane
Performed by Alexis Smith (dubbed by Bonnie Lou Williams) (uncredited)
See more »

User Reviews

The story of three friends who liked to tinkle everywhere they went.
17 July 2017 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

Despite having Joel McCrea in the lead, this is a rather dull western...dull and pretty predictable. About the only part that was unexpected was how less than honorable McCrea's character was through much of the movie.

The story is set during the Civil War. Three buddies all arrive in Yankee occupied Texas on the lookout for Cottrell (Victor Jory). Cottrell is fashioned after the real life Civil War raider, Quantrill...though oddly he's fighting for the Union in this one. Despite Kip Davis (Joel McCrea) and his friends wanting to kill Cottrell, soon Lee (Douglas Kennedy) joins the Confederate army and Kip and Charlie (Zachary Scott) help the South by running the blockades. Eventually, however, Charlie comes to enjoy getting rich much more than helping the Confederacy and this brings a very predictable showdown at the end.

Everything about this film is mediocre at best and the story only occasionally interesting. I had a hard time caring about the characters and the story.

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Release Date:

6 March 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Distant Drums See more »


Box Office

Gross USA:

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Company Credits

Production Co:

United States Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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