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Drums in the Deep South (1951)

Two old friends find themselves on opposite sides during the Civil War in a desperate battle atop an impregnable mountain.


Philip Yordan (screenplay), Sidney Harmon (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Complete credited cast:
James Craig ... Maj. Clay Clayburn
Barbara Payton ... Kathy Summers
Guy Madison ... Maj. Will Denning
Barton MacLane ... Sgt. Mac McCardle
Robert Osterloh ... Sgt. Harper
Tom Fadden ... Purdy
Robert Easton ... Jerry
Louis Jean Heydt ... Col. House
Craig Stevens ... Col. Braxton Summers
Taylor Holmes ... Albert Monroe
Lewis Martin Lewis Martin ... Gen. Johnston
Peter Brocco ... Union Corporal
Dan White ... Cpl. Jennings


Best friends Clay Clayburn and Will Denning graduate from West Point only to soon find themselves fighting on opposite sides of the Civil War. When the two men meet each other in combat, neither knows it as each is in an artillery position hundreds of yards from the other. However, the love of Clay's life, Kathy Summers, does know and tries desperately to save her two good friends from killing each other. Written by Alfred Jingle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A handful of heroes on a powder-keg mountain !


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Release Date:

16 October 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Confederate Story See more »

Filming Locations:

Sonora, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$300,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

King Brothers Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Supercinecolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The failure of the original copyright holder to renew the film's copyright resulted in it falling into public domain, meaning that virtually anyone could duplicate and sell a VHS/DVD copy of the film. Therefore, many of the versions of this film available on the market are either severely (and usually badly) edited and/or of extremely poor quality, having been duped from second- or third-generation (or more) copies of the film. See more »


The Confederates are repeatedly shown loading solid shot (cannonballs) into their artillery pieces; however, when the shot are fired, they explode, something a solid cannonball cannot do. See more »


Gen. Johnston: A good soldier dies only once, and death is someone he knows.
See more »


"John Brown's Body' (uncredited)
Traditional American melody
Lyrics by Thomas Brigham Bishop
Integrated into score as theme for union troops
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Quirky Little Civil War Film
29 July 2003 | by ark30infSee all my reviews

I had a really hard time figuring out whether to give this a 5 or a 6. The film has a few things going for it but on the other hand it has some definite problems. I finally settled on a 6. I gave it a point for quirkiness.

The casting of James Craig was obviously intended to evoke Clark Gable and Rhett Butler. Too obviously. Craig's vocal performance seemed to indicate that he also wanted to play up the Clark Gable angle. It was a bit distracting during the love scenes but he seemed to, thankfully, drift away from it during the action sequences.

Guy Madison was cast because he was easy to look at. But his performance was anything but easy to look at. His character gyrated wildly from manic damnyankee enemy to soft hearted friend of the family. I couldn't tell if he was possessed or just in serious need of some mood stabilizing drugs.

I never developed an empathy with the leading male and female characters. Every time they passionately kissed I kept thinking about her poor naive husband off surrounded by Sherman's Army while she played footsie with his alleged old best West Point friend.

The special effects were very interesting and quite well done. But its hard to imagine that anybody ever grew any cotton in the rocky scrub that looked remarkably like Southern California during wildfire season. If you are going to spend the special effects money to matte in a giant plantation house you can at least matte it into a rich green landscape rather than a rocky gulch.

I won't even mention (well actually I will) the fact that the main geographical feature of the movie is a hollowed out, honeycombed, Devil's Tower from Close Encounters. Only this one is smack dab in the middle of Georgia! The makers of this movie would have had better luck just using the real Stone Mountain and pretended it was hollow. I kept expecting the mother ship to hover over the mountain.

The explosive ending seemed to be the result of the writer suddenly realizing that he had to finish his script in the next two sentences. I can't say I've seen a film that only needs 2 seconds to wrap everything up and turn off the lights.

But there are a few good things that made this movie appealing. Your generic Civil War movie has a smashing good Cavalry charge in it and lots of dashing guys on horses waving swords and flags. You know they do. This film went WAY off the beaten path. The heroes of this film are the artillery.....yes....you heard it right.....the heroes are exclusively the Confederate Artillery. That deserves a rating point right there. They even got the Confederate artillery uniform colors right. Its not often you see a Civil War film where the difference between a Dahlgren gun and a Brooke's Rifle is essential to the plot. The artillery battles were handled quite skillfully.

This is essentially a fifties matinee action picture. But the makers did manage to insert a couple of quite beautiful moments into the film. For a moment, a hard-hearted, oppressive, damnyankee skulker becomes human when he presents a photograph of his two babies and thinks wistfully of his family and his farm. More than one character mentions that he didn't start the war, that he was just playing the role assigned to him on the great stage. A few quiet moments about the war's real meaning and effect in this odd little shoot 'em up.

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