Distant Drums (1951) Poster

(1951)

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The scenery outdoes the content of this rare Seminole War film.
floridawar29 July 2002
There are not very many films depicting the 2nd Seminole War of 1835-1842, in Florida. This is unfortunate as this was not only America's longest, but its bloodiest Indian war as well. Other films relating to this conflict include Seminole, and Naked in the Sun. Due to the sparsity of Seminole War films I will admit a bias for this film despite its ridiculous plot, bargain basement Hollywood surplus wardrobe (The soldiers are in a mix of fanciful fringed pants and ca. 1898 Spanish-American War hats and shirts etc.), and anachronistic armaments(the soldiers are using M-1873 Trapdoor carbines, the Seminoles the full length M-1873 rifle-both sides used flintlock weapons in 1840). A large chunk of the plot surrounds Cuban gun runners supporting the Warriors. In truth, despite 7 years of naval blockade of the Florida Coast, the US Navy never proved the fears of such a trade from Cuba...I could go on and on... True, this is nothing more than a transplanted "western" in the Swamps of Florida, although I detect a great deal of Director Walsh's previous Objective Burma in this flick (compare the gator pit in the Seminole village with the similar scene in the Japanese held village in Objective Burma) The true star of this one is the scenery, as, almost alone amongst the few Seminole War films, this one takes full advantage of the wildly beautiful Florida Wilderness. Other comments note the great underwater battle scene, but I am spellbound by the cypress swamp and saw-grass settings as well. You won't learn much about the War from this movie, but it does have some basis in fact. By 1840 the army was relying on small patrols like Cooper's in the film to track down hostile Seminoles for removal to the west. Thats about as close as it comes to the history books, but it is still an exciting action film with an O.K. musical score.
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7/10
It Worked for Me
ragosaal25 September 2006
I saw "Distant Drums" for the first time when I was 10 or 11 years old and I recall it was a great film for me. Then I saw it as an adult and though it was not the great film I remembered it was still very good as an action and adventure sort of western. Since I'm not from the USA I didn't notice some historical mistakes -mainly the use of guns and rifles not yet invented by the time of the action- I learned about after reading some reviews here; I think those are major flaws in a movie.

However, I think my little knowledge about the Seminole wars in Florida give me the possibility of judging the film just at what it is: an adventure film. That established, "Distant Drums" appears to me as a highly entertaining and well done movie as well as a very original film mainly because of where the action is located. Is has great color, beautiful photography and incredible open wide sceneries in the Everglades. The plot -although kind of standard (a bunch of soldiers chased by savage Indians through the swamps- is however very well handled by director Roul Walsh and he keeps action going all along without major bumps. The sequence at the Seminole village is most impressive and tense as it is the final underwater knife duel between Captain Wyatt and chief Okala.

Gary Cooper (Wyatt) is very good as the leader of the escaping troop and shows the presence and self confidence a leader should. The rest of the cast brings a good support too, mainly Arthur Hunnicutt (Coooper's sidekick) and Ray Teal (one of the troopers), and Mari Aldon does a credible work as Cooper's romantic interest. Seminole chief Okala looks mean enough and a proper match for Cooper. Perhaps the less impressive performance is that of Richard Webb kind of dull as a navy officer involved in the mission.

In all this a decent action/adventure film, most entertaining and worth seeing for those who enjoy the genre.
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5/10
Those Seminole Wars
bkoganbing29 August 2006
United States Pictures which released Distant Drums through Warner Brothers was I think Gary Cooper's own production company. Looking at The Films of Gary Cooper book, I noticed about three others with same credits in the Fifties of which Distant Drums was the first.

The film was shot on actual location in the Everglades, I think Gary Cooper must have gotten some taste of what Bogey and Hepburn were enduring doing The African Queen. Too bad the story didn't rate the same as The African Queen.

Cooper is an American Army captain on duty with the army of General Zachary Taylor, played by Robert Barrat, who lives on his own island and doesn't dress in any army uniform. Zach Taylor had a reputation for informality, but that was carrying it a bit too far. The only other guy who had his own private island during war was Lt. Commander Quentin McHale and his PT Boat crew.

Anyway Barrat gives Cooper a mission and a Navy lieutenant played by Richard Webb to carry it out. To attack an old Spanish fort and go by boat across Lake Okechoobee. An early type of amphibious warfare. The attack goes off as planned and some civilian prisoners are rescued from the renegades using the fort. But the Seminoles are in hot pursuit of Cooper and the whole bunch through most of the film.

I can't believe by the way that a director like Raoul Walsh had the army and the Seminoles fighting with repeating rifles and six shooter revolving pistols. Stuff wasn't invented yet.

For the early years of the republic, Florida under Spanish rule and loose rule at that, was a thorn in our side. Pirates like the ones you see here used it as a haven for raiding purposes. But it was also a refuge for runaway slaves. Our southern states wanted Florida acquired to put an end to that. The indigenous tribes to Florida, the Seminoles did offer refuge for runaway slaves. So a war there was inevitable, especially when southern presidents like Andrew Jackson were in the White House.

Maybe one day someone will do a proper film on the early history of Florida, but this ain't it.
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5/10
Okay western set in the Florida Everglades
Tweekums9 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
When one thinks of westerns one typically thinks of things like wide open plains, scrubland and the cavalry in a wooden fort... here we have swamps, jungle and the Indians in a stone fort... this is a Florida Western! The story opens with US Navy Lieutenant Richard Tufts arriving in Florida with a small boat which he has taken overland to Lake Okeechobee. He travels separately and meets up with Capt. Quincy Wyatt, who will lead the mission against an old Spanish fort on the opposite side of the lake which is being used by the Seminole Indians. One would have expected this mission to be the main part of the story but it is all over fairly quickly; the real story is about how they, and some rescued prisoners, escape through the alligator infested Everglade swamps with the Seminole chasing after them. Not all of them will make it; some will die at the hands of the Seminole, others to the alligators!

The Florida setting certainly gave this film a different feel to just about every other western I've seen; usually the worst natural danger in a western is a rattlesnake but the alligators here were more frightening and there saw a surprising amount of blood shown when one of the men was killed by one. There was a decent amount of action including a knife fight that takes place underwater! The acting is okay but lead Gary Cooper is nowhere near as good as he was in 'High Noon'; I guess this is down to the material he had to work with. Love interest Mari Alden looks pretty but her character isn't particularly interesting; we learn that she isn't quite the Southern lady she makes out to be but that revelation hardly affects her character. I'm not sure whether this will appeal to fans of conventional westerns; I think it is more likely to appeal to fans of adventure stories.
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7/10
A small group of adventurers facing Indians during Seminola war in the Florida Everglades
ma-cortes6 March 2012
Army Lieutenant Tufts (Richard Webb) is assigned a dangerous mission by General Zachary Taylor (Robert Barrat). He must accompany captain Quincy Wyatt (Gary Cooper) along with a scout named Monk (Arthur Hunnicutt with his usual raccoon skin hat ) into the Everglades to rout the Seminole Indians who are threatening the early settlers in Florida. After destroying a Seminole fort , people is rescued from Redskin captivity , then the command is forced to get away . The small band of American soldiers and their rescued companions ( Mari Aldon among others )tries to stop and must face the dangerous Everglades and hostile Indians in order to reach safety and battle against risks.

This exciting Western packs thrills , noisy action , spectacular struggles and lots of gutsy adventure . Brawling , sprawling , almost primitive action, teeming across the screen . Impressive images when Wyatt and Seminole Chief Oscala square off in a breathtaking climax . Raoul Walsh demonstrates a special talent for making the densest action sequences seem uncomplicated and uncluttered and his characters , like the scenes distinguished , often have an unfettered , raw power . Gorgeous Mari Aldon as a ballerina from Savannah who bears a dark past , she does an enjoyable and prominent debut though didn't have a notorious career . Good secondary cast with familiar hearted features as Richard Webb, Robert Barrat , Arthur Hunnicutt , Ray Teal and uncredited Darren McGavin as Navy Lt. The picture was photographed by Sidney Hickox in the heart of the Florida everglades , at Silver Sprags and at Castillo of San Marcos in the Southeastern nation , monuments through the courtesy of the United States Department of Interior National Park Service. Thrilling as well as emotive musical score by the classic Alfred Newman .

The motion picture produced by Milton Sperling is well directed by Raoul Walsh . From his starts in the silent cinema he achieved successful films until the 50s and forward , early 60s , when he was less dominant , but is still stayed lots of lusty adventure , stories of comradeship and friendship , and Raoul makes the most of plentiful action scenes . Walsh was an expert director of all kind genres but with penchant in Western as ¨Colorado territory¨ , ¨They died with their boots on¨, ¨Along the great divide¨, ¨Saskatchewan¨, ¨King and four queens¨ , ¨The sheriff of fractured jaw¨, ¨A distant trumpet¨ ; Adventure as ¨Thief of Bagdad¨, ¨Captain Horatio Hornblower¨, ¨World in his hands¨, ¨Blackbeard the pirate¨ , ¨Sea devils¨ ; Warlike as ¨Objetive Burma¨ , ¨Northern pursuit¨, ¨Marines let's go¨ ; and Noir film as ¨White heat¨, ¨High Sierra¨, ¨They drive by night¨, ¨The roaring twenties¨. Rating : Fairly straightforward movie and above average . This interesting Western and action film makes it of the finest of Raoul Walsh genre entries.
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9/10
Formalaic story but told well
autobenelux19 January 2004
Good sets and use of the everglades.Cooper is once again the ipitome of what a hero should be ,underplaying ,but shows what a superb cinema actor he was by seemingly doing very little but conveying through facial and body language all that is necessary. Good filmic acting is so different from the stage and this man had it!
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6/10
Cavalry-Indian fighting in the Everglades
NewEnglandPat16 June 2003
This adventure is a good film that has reliable Gary Cooper for star power and he doesn't disappoint in a rousing cavalry-Indian yarn that unfolds in the Everglades during the Seminole War. Cooper's men battle gun runners, jungle rot, dangerous reptiles and savage Indians as the military aims to quell the Seminole menace for good. Most of the film has the soldiers trying to stay one jump ahead of the pursuing Indians while being slowed by hostages, including striking Mari Aldon, who supplies the romance for Cooper later on. The action lags here and there but the clashes between the soldiers and the Indians pack a wallop, especially the final siege and confrontation at Cooper's island refuge at the finish. The camera work is fine and Max Steiner again contributes a nice score. This film is perhaps Cooper's least-known western adventure but it's a winning feature with a solid cast.
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5/10
Mundane plotting off set by zippy action and smart location work.
Spikeopath3 September 2010
Distant Drums is directed by Raoul Walsh and stars Gary Cooper, Richard Webb, Mari Aldon & Arthur Hunnicutt. Known as a "Florida Western," the film is set during the Seminole Wars in the 1840s. It's written by Niven Busch and Martin Rackin, photographed predominantly on location in the Florida Everglades (in Technicolor) by Sidney Hickox and Max Steiner scores the music. Plot sees Cooper playing an Army captain who after destroying a fort held by the Seminole Indians retreats with his party into the Everglades where many of natures dangers lurk as the Seminole pursue them.

Not one for fans of Cooper, Walsh or Busch to get excited about. The story is as conventional as it gets, complete with a romantic angle, and the dialogue is boorish and lacking imagination. Were it not for the excellently constructed action sequences (check out the under water scenes) and the lush location photography, then this one would be consigned to the "please steer away from" pile. Busch is the main culprit since his writing is confused as to what it wants to achieve. The Seminole Indians are painted as savages, thus giving a one sided feel to a War not often seen in movies, yet other Native Americans are handled more sympathetically via the portrayal from Cooper. All in all we learn nothing about the War and the people involved as the film winds up as a jungle like adventure built around a number of set pieces.

Cooper is rugged and watchable as an Alligator Dundee type and Hunnicutt as always leaves a favourable impression as the scout. Mari Aldon is pretty but pretty one dimensional, while Richard Webb just seems out of place in the perilous locale and therefore unconvincing. But as previously mentioned, nobody here is helped by the tepid script. It's believed that this movie features the earliest known use of the Wilhelm Scream sound effect, a technique used to vocalise a character being torn to shreds by an alligator. A standard film it is then, one that really should have been a fine entry into a sadly untapped in to topic. It's like getting a beautifully wrapped birthday present that when opened reveals nothing but strips of mouldy old newspaper. 5/10
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7/10
Mighty adventure booms
bygard2 May 2007
Great looking locations and color photography with daredevil action reigns over this boy's own adventure, the style Warner Brothers has always been very good at. The characters are mostly left undeveloped, except Cooper's group leader Zachary. His past is well documented by his friend, played by Arthur Hunnicut in his usual relaxed manner, and it's mostly his destiny we are to care about. It's notable how larger than life Cooper appears to be even on television screen. His characterization, which is a combination of a western hero and Tarzan, doesn't offer very much range in acting but makes it interesting enough for this kind of adventure flick. Mari Aldon gets dragged through all the dangerous and beautiful scenery without having her make-up smeared and sometimes completely steals my attention from what is going on around her. Her role doesn't have much else to offer either. But I guess, by what I just said, her role work serves its purpose the way it was intended.

Almost everything you expect from a jungle adventure set in Florida is here including alligators, snakes and wild cardboard Indians. A great plus are the beautifully shot underwater scenes, short but crystal clear, crowned by a final duel under surface. This isn't one of the best movies from the director Raoul Walsh, but as a classic adventure and action for a more empty-headed moment it works truly well.
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5/10
The history lover in me was not thrilled...
MartinHafer21 June 2017
This film is about a small group of soldiers who make an incursion well into Seminole territory in Florida. Things don't go well and they are forced to essentially trudge through swamps in order to get back to their front line.

When I watch movies, I look for details many others do not. Much of this is because I love history and taught it. So, when I see folks who are supposed to be fighting the Seminole Indians during the Second Seminole War (the one Zachary Taylor participated in), I hated seeing folks using revolvers and Springfield rifles that used cartridges, as these weapons came along during the Civil War era...about 25 years later. And, the uniforms on the men were a motley collection of types---and the most prevalent was a Rough Riders type from about 1898! This was all very sloppy...and the folks making the film simply didn't care. When I add to that the story is only kinda interesting, then I am left with a movie that clearly falls into the 'time-passer' category...one that is modestly watchable and entertaining but absolutely nothing more...even WITH Gary Cooper in the lead! Watch it if you must...and at least the nice Florida locations are nice to see.
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8/10
Indian fighting in Florida with a handsome Gary Cooper
nancyyvonne12 June 2016
I love Gary Cooper, especially during the 1950's. He actually aged better and better. This western is somewhat different than what he usually chose to play. He is a distinct personality that his men and others under his care recognize as "leader". I bought it totally. He is distant, sexy and loving to a small son. He is brave and a heroic personality. Just the kind of movie I love with Gary Cooper. The Florida vistas are wild and beautiful. The whole thing just entertained me and I came back for more. I don't remember this one from T.V. reruns so it was brand new to me. I highly recommend to people who love westerns (especially with Gary Cooper).
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6/10
"Objective Burma" as an eastern western.
tmwest21 March 2004
Niven Busch wrote such great stories as "Pursued" and "Duel in the Sun", so when you see his name on this film you expect something unusual. What you get instead is "Objective Burma" on a different time and location. Also Max Steiner's music is not at its best, nothing to compare with what he wrote for "They Died With Their Boots On". The good things here are the color cinematography showing the wild Florida Everglades, the underwater fight, Cooper's performance, and specially the sensual beauty of Mari Aldon. Where "Drums" differs from "Burma" is with this very good inclusion of the feminine element. The romance between Cooper and Aldon, with their different points of view about "holding a grudge" saves this film from boredom.
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8/10
a great flick in spite of continuity problems
jrbeaman24 February 2010
I saw this as a child as loved it. It is a great story but it does have some continuity problems: 1. Monk and Lt. start off going to Quincy's with three horses. One with empty saddle. Who's it for? Quincy? 2. Go cross country (on map) to a creek, then tie up the horses and leave them. 3. Go up the creek to Quincy's Chickee, leaving the horses. 4. Monk hoots for Quincy and says "that'll bring him out", whereas cutaway scene shows Cooper already emerging from bush 5. Next scene shows Cooper coming out like he's just heard the guide. 6. The eagles are great, but instead of the two mentioned, the last shot shows a third one coming down for his "treat". 7. Cooper and party leave for Taylor's HQ which is northeast of where they left the horses. They arrive at HQ on horses. Where's they get them since they left the original three tied up miles south of there? 8. Monk, the old trapper, wears a totally incongruous buckskin outfit. Can you imagine that and a coonskin hat in Florida's heat? 9. The uniforms are OK, if a little to "western". Taylor and the other officers are correctly dressed for the period. Later the brigade soldiers at the end are totally dressed correctly for the period. 10. Rifled muskets are not correct for the period. This is 1840, as stated, but the US Army did not start using percussion cap rifled muskets until 1842 and even these then were conversions of existing flintlocks, not the nice post-Civil war carbines shown, which, by the way, were issued to cavalry, not infantry. 11. The revolvers Cooper and everyone else uses are 1870s era Colts with brass cartridges not the earlier era ones with paper cartridges and caps. At least they could have used 1844 model Colts. 12. At the arsenal in the fort they discover "European" muskets. Well, golleee! These are Spanish men! 13. The Seminoles look great even though they did not look like that in 1840. The headdress and paint are correct. 14. Did you ever notice how the Seminoles are always running after the expedition, which is walking, but never seem to quite catch up? 15. The Spanish plantation owner seems to disappear about halfway through the movie. 16. The swamp grass fire is a little weak. The Seminoles could have easily jumped through the gaps shown. 17. In the "gators" scene, you can see the rope pulling the fake alligator along! 18. After falling into and coming out of walking through the swamp, Marie Alden's dress and cloths are not wet at all!

In spite of all this it is a great story and well-acted by everyone. The drill the soldiers do is very well done unlike most Hollywood epics.
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10/10
Distant Drums
tonyd194221 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
First viewed this film when it came out. This is an excellent film for the amount of excitement it brings to the viewer. Sure, there are some mistakes in it, such as the weapons used, but that should not detract from the overall excellent story line (which is much like "Objective Burma", another excellent film). I believe that it was one of Gary Cooper's finest roles. Fit right in with his overall "homespun" personality. Like all films from this era (1950s) it portrayed the American Indian as the villain. History of the Seminole Wars shows just the opposite. But, if one can put that aside, then this is a highly enjoyable movie.
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Thrilling music
william.g.chapman9 August 2002
I first saw this film while living in Port Huron, Mich. in the early '60s. What I remember most about it is Max Steiner's music. As overworked as Steiner was in those days he always turned out consistently beautiful, and in this film, thrilling scores.
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6/10
Cooper leads a successful expedition through swamps and everglades
weezeralfalfa25 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Rather cheesy fiction about a combined navy-army operation in the 1840s 2nd Seminole War. While most missions were to kill or capture Seminoles for resettlement in Oklahoma, this expedition's primary target was an old Spanish fort which gunrunners stored their the munitions and other supplies to barter with the Seminoles(in exchange for what?). To get there, the troopers used a combination of horses, canoes and bushwhacking to get from the east coast of Florida to Lake Okeechobee, and beyond, all the while being exposed to the possibility of attack by Seminoles.

The expedition is led by Captain Wyatt(Gary Cooper), a rather reclusive army officer, who lives on a small island in a small lake. Most troopers have to be picked up at the regional headquarters, commanded by Zachary Taylor. Wyatt's favorite companion is a backwoodsman called Monk(Arthur Hunnicut), who's always seen with a coonskin cap no matter how hot and humid it is. About midway in the film, they reach the fort and manage to surprise the inhabitants, killing all. They also discover several hostages in a cell. Of course, one is a beautiful sexy, unattached, young woman, who naturally soon takes a shine to Cooper. Now, to get back home, they have to take a different route, because Seminoles are swarming on the route the took to get there. They face very difficult slogging, and eventual starvation, not to mention occasional Seminoles.

The basic plot much reminds me of that of "Northwest Passage", of a decade before. A group of rangers tramp though a long stretch of difficult wilderness for one objective, which is accomplished, then have a more difficult time on the return trip, including starvation. It's estimated that 80% of the trooper casualties were due to diseases and other non-Indian hazards. For example, malaria and yellow fever were real hazards not usually present in New England. Starvation was another hazard, which this expedition encountered on the return trip.

Mari Aldon plays Judy, the gorgeous rescued captive. It's too bad this seems to have been her only significant film role. She had been a ballerina.

Another film dealing with the 2nd Seminole War, called "Seminole" was released just 2 years later. It was also shot in color and largely in the Everglades. Although it too has an excess of historical fabrication, at least it has some historical basis, whereas the present film does not. However, the Indians look more authentic in the present film.
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10/10
A GREAT FILM CLASSIC OF GARY COOPER !
whpratt128 September 2003
Besides being a great fan of Gary Cooper(Capt. Quincy Wyatt) "Love In The Afternoon",'57; my family wanted to visit Florida and the Castillo de San Marcos Fort in 1951 where a great scene in the film depicts a fight in this famous fort, now a National Monument. My family visited the fort the day after Gary Cooper was at this fort. As many have said, there is great under water photography, actual scenes of Florida during the 1950's which made it more realistic. Gary Cooper carried this entire film on his back and it is truly a great film classic.
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7/10
Not your usual oater
artzau14 December 2000
The only thing about this film is the Indians, in this case the Florida Seminoles, are the bad guys. Oscala meets Coop underwater in a duel to the finish, in good early 50s Hollywood style. Other than that, it's not your usual oater. The story is OK with an aging Coop showing he's not yet over-the-hill and a young Richard Webb, later TV's Captain Midnight. Not a lot of memorable moments here but nevertheless fun to watch. Cooper was always worth the price of admission.
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8/10
They don't make 'em like they used to
scheelj15 May 2012
See it - They don't make 'em like they used to. Gary Cooper brings us another great action classic. It's the story of American soldiers who attack a fort in the everglades during the Seminole Wars in the 1800's. They are then chased by Indians through swamps for the rest of the movie. The movie delivers every possible action scenario that you could imagine in a setting like that. It's very similar to the first half of the classic film "Davy Crockett." Remember when Davy Crockett fights the Indians in the swamp? Well that's what goes down this entire movie. You don't watch a movie like this for its plot. Yes, it's old. But it's Gary Cooper at his best. There is plenty of battles, including a cool underwater fight scene at the end. What do I mean by that? Well you'll have to watch it and find out. 4 out of 5 action rating
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Traditional western formula, stuck in FLA..
gazzo-211 October 2003
And right about in line w/ what the others here said-you have seen this plotline and characterizations 1000 times before. I too noticed how way outta time their wardrobe, weapons and the like were too-1880 instead of 1838, you know? This is an interesting story-Seminoles holding off Andrew Jackson and others for decades-but it hasn't been told the right way yet.

Here Cooper and company give it a try, but it's just 'Objective Burma' transferred to FLA. You do get to see Arthur Hunnicutt and Ray Teal doing their things too for what it's worth. Decent scenery, and of course famous underwater knife fight too.

** outta ****.
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2/10
BORING
invisibleunicornninja6 November 2018
I watched this movie because I heard that the first Wilhelm scream came from it. Unfortunately, the movie is really boring. And kinda racist. And dated. And also boring. And from what I've heard, historically inaccurate.

The first scream is in a battle early on so that's good.

I got about 30 minutes into this movie because its really boring. I wouldn't recommend it.
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8/10
First wilhelm scream!
ericstevenson13 August 2018
This movie would be forgotten by most audiences if not for the fact that it was the first film to use the Wilhelm scream, the most popular sound effect in movie history! It's odd, because I know I heard it twice before the alligator scene. Anyway, how does it work as a movie? I admit to not seeing many Gary Cooper films. I'm just not into Westerns. What I love about this film is how beautiful it looks.

While everything's color now, this was made when color films were rare and it really does look amazing. The story is that a cowboy is fighting in the Mexican-American War and has to fight hostile Indians as well. It was even a nice history lesson as I forgot that President Zachary Taylor was a general. It was kind of personal as I live in Florida. I've never been to the Everglades, though. While not great, it's worth watching. ***
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5/10
Needed a film editor with a much sharper pair of scissors.
JohnHowardReid23 May 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Producer: Milton Sperling. A United States Picture, released through Warner Bros. Copyright 17 December 1951 by United States Pictures, Inc. New York opening at the Warner: 25 December 1951. U.S. release: 29 December 1951. U.K. release: May 1952. Australian release: 23 July 1953 (sic). 101 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: In 1840, deep in the Florida Everglades, General Zachary Taylor accepts an idea put forward by Captain Quincey Wyatt to strike a blow at gun-runners supplying the Seminole Indians.

NOTES: Although its story is somewhat similar to Northwest Passage, this film is a more direct re-make of Walsh's own Objective Burma (1945) with Errol Flynn in the role now played by Gary Cooper.

Photographed on locations in the heart of the Florida Everglades at Silver Springs, and at the Castillo de San Marcos in the South-Eastern National Monuments, through the courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service.

COMMENT: Pale adventure, lacks the gusto and excitement of say a Savage Islands and now seems feeble and dated. The laughable introduction of glamor girl Mari Aldon into the plot, the stiff acting by some of the support players (Webb who also narrates, Barratt) negate the realism of actual location filming.

At best, an adequate adventure for Cooper fans. Others beware! And it has one of Steiner's least memorable, if atmospherically appropriate music scores.

OTHER VIEWS: Although largely (and beautifully) shot on Florida locations (including the famous Everglades swamp), this film is burdened with a laughably inept, cliché-ridden script. Fortunately, most of the dialogue can be ignored in favor of the splendid action scenes which Walsh handles with his customary vitality. - JHR writing as George Addison.

Walsh at half-steam. Even the Everglades action is rather listlessly handled until the pursuit really gets underway. But then the chase is hampered by Mari Aldon with her needlessly boring romantic punctuations which do nothing for realism and undermine suspense. Sub-hero Webb is little help either. Distant Drums has all the makings of a first-class action adventure. What it needed was a film editor with a much sharper pair of scissors. - JHR writing as Charles .Freeman.
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Entertaining but Slightly Irritating
don-18012 October 2003
This picture was made when directors sacrificed authenticity for rapid gunfire. The trapdoor rifles and the Colt Single Action revolver were not even invented until 30+ years after the Seminole Wars. The under water knife fight reminded me of the face-to-face shootouts of "classic westerns". It never happened. The practical lawman of the old west (if he wanted to see the sunrise next day) captured his quarry while asleep or shot him from ambush. No sane person would willingly stand face-to-face against another armed man and yell "DRAW"!! Would YOU? There are no recorded shootouts of this type in Western history.
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You might need those eyelid-holders from A Clockwork Orange for this one.
Ben_Cheshire27 July 2015
For the life of me I couldn't figure out how to pay attention to it. Its just a thick slice of old Hollywood hokum, the like of which I haven't seen for a loooong time. I found it in my late grandpa's old VHS collection, which might explain something. And check my other reviews, I'm not one of these Avatar the Last Airbender kiddies who expects an Avenger every half- second or I rage quit, I can be a patient and respectful sort, through about the only cheese this cheesy I tend to like is John Ford brand.

This picture was directed by the great Raoul Walsh, and you've either come here for him or Gary Cooper. Neither one of who really impresses here. It looks OK, with some decent technicolor photography.

I guess I might be giving up on westerns unless they're supposed to be the absolute creme of the crop. Its just not my genre.
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