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Drums Across the River (1954)

Approved | | Western | June 1954 (USA)
When whites hunger after the gold on Ute Indian land, a bigoted young man finds himself forced into a peacekeeping role.

Director:

Nathan Juran

Writers:

John K. Butler (screenplay), Lawrence Roman (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Audie Murphy ... Gary Brannon
Walter Brennan ... Sam Brannon
Lyle Bettger ... Frank Walker
Lisa Gaye ... Jennie
Hugh O'Brian ... Morgan
Mara Corday ... Sue
Jay Silverheels ... Taos
Emile Meyer ... Nathan Marlowe
Regis Toomey ... Sheriff Jim Beal
Morris Ankrum ... Chief Ouray
Bob Steele ... Billy Costa
James Anderson ... Jed Walker
George Wallace ... Les Walker
Lane Bradford ... Ralph Costa
Howard McNear ... Stilwell (as Howard Mc.Near)
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Storyline

Crown City, Colorado, may become a ghost town; the only gold left is in Ute Indian land. Gary Brannon, an honest man who hates Indians, joins a mission to try for mining concessions; but crooked Frank Walker, more realistically, plans to start an Indian war. Gary and his wiser father Sam have their hands full keeping the peace, and Walker has lots more schemes up his sleeve. More plot twists than the average Western. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A wilderness of danger ! An empire of savage hate !

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

June 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Adlerschwinge See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Goofs

Stirrups are visible beneath the blankets on the Indians' horses. See more »

Quotes

Chief Ouray: I fought the enemies of peace, no matter who, while I lived. I will fight them after my death.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Biography: Audie Murphy: Great American Hero (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

Audie Murphy helps the Ute Indians in solid little western
29 December 2001 | by Brian CampSee all my reviews

Among the two dozen or so westerns Audie Murphy made for Universal Pictures from 1950-1966, DRUMS ACROSS THE RIVER (1954) is one of the better ones, featuring a gold miners-vs.-Indians plot with Audie caught firmly in the middle. It's fast-paced, full of action, and features a host of lively character actors, including some great villains.

Audie plays a wagon freighter in a Colorado mining town who is, initially, a witting pawn in a plot by a group of Denver mine bosses to stir up trouble with the local Ute Indians in order to get gold concessions on their land. Audie's dad, Sam (Walter Brennan), is a friend of the Indians and, following a shootout with the Utes in which Sam is wounded, Audie meets with the Ute chief (Morris Ankrum) and his son Taos (Jay Silverheels) and negotiates a temporary peace. Unfortunately, the hired guns working for the mine bosses continue to stir things up and force Audie to aid in a stage robbery by abducting his dad and threatening to kill him. When Audie is charged with murder after the robbery, he has to keep quiet to insure Sam's safety. In the final stretch of the movie, Audie has to break free, save his dad, subdue the bad guys, clear himself and avert a battle between Indians and cavalry. The whole story is told in 78 compact minutes.

Unassuming war hero-turned-western star Murphy was at his best in parts like this, playing an ordinary westerner caught up in a tumultuous situation and having to fight his way out and summon up the moral courage to do the right thing. He always looked best when he faced down truly formidable bad guys and here he faces one of the best western villains of the 1950s. Lyle Bettger, who had one of the most sinister smiles in movie history, specialized in corrupt western capitalists (ranchers, miners, saloon owners, railroad men) who could be utterly smooth and charming one minute and murderously evil the next. Here he's the miners' lead troublemaker and is joined by a great rogues' gallery made up of future TV star Hugh O'Brian as the black-clad Morgan, who also smiles a lot, and a quartet of thugs played by frequent heavies James Anderson, George Wallace, Lane Bradford and former B-western star Bob Steele. In addition, there's Mara Corday as a voluptuous (and very attractive) saloon girl who does some of Bettger's dirty work.

Walter Brennan is very good in a rare turn as an upright authority figure and father. Jay Silverheels plays a sympathetic Indian and leads a band of Utes who appear to be played predominantly by actual Indians rather than the usual painted-up white extras. The Technicolor film was shot partly on the Universal backlot with some fine location work at key California western sites, including one dramatic desert spot representing the Indians' sacred burial ground. This was director Nathan Juran's third film with Murphy.


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