6.0/10
609
17 user 3 critic

A Thunder of Drums (1961)

Approved | | Western | 14 November 1961 (Japan)
The trials and tribulations of bitter veteran Captain Maddocks and argumentative rookie Lieutenant McQuade at a cavalry desert outpost.

Director:

Joseph M. Newman (as Joseph Newman)
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1 nomination. See more awards »

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Stars: George Montgomery, Marcia Henderson, Peter Graves
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Boone ... Capt. Stephen Maddocks
George Hamilton ... Lt. Curtis McQuade
Luana Patten ... Tracey Hamilton
Arthur O'Connell ... Sgt. Karl Rodermill
Charles Bronson ... Trooper Hanna
Richard Chamberlain ... Lt. Porter
James Douglas James Douglas ... Lt. Thomas Gresham
Tammy Marihugh ... Laurie Detweiler
Carole Wells Carole Wells ... Camden Yates
Duane Eddy ... Trooper Eddy
Slim Pickens ... Trooper Erschick
Clem Harvey ... Trooper Denton
Casey Tibbs Casey Tibbs ... Trooper Baker
Irene Tedrow ... Mrs. Scarborough
Marjorie Bennett ... Mrs. Yates
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Storyline

Captain Maddocks will never be promoted beyond Captain because of a mistake that he made in the past. Lt. McQuade is a green rookie who is now under the command of the tough Captain and he does not seem to be able to do anything right. Lt. McQuade also has trouble with Tracey, but it will be the renegade Indians that will test him and teach him the importance of following orders. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A regiment of forgotten men... a woman no man could forget!

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 November 1961 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Tonnerre apache See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The real Fort Canby was named after General Edward R.S. Canby. Canby military career was spent in the west. Including, Wyoming, New Mexico, Utah, and California. Even during the Civil War, he was involved in a major battle in New Mexico that led to his promotion from Colonel to General. He was murdered along with Minister at peace conference by a Modoc Indian. The Indian attacked him without warning while they talked. The general was shot twice in the head and his throat was cut. See more »

Goofs

On the night before the final battle: around the campfire, bottom right, ribbed shoe-prints are clearly visible in the dust. They were obviously made by modern footwear with synthetic soles. See more »

Quotes

Lt. Curtis McQuade: You saw that trail we crossed a couple hours back, sir?
Captain Stephen Maddocks: Eighteen ponies, Mister, headed north crossed our line of march about 10 o'clock this morning
Lt. Curtis McQuade: I made it, ah, twenty to twenty-five, sir, crossed about dawn. I was undoubtedly wrong, sir.
Captain Stephen Maddocks: You were, sir.
Lt. Curtis McQuade: There were oats on that trail, sir.
Captain Stephen Maddocks: Well, that's quite right, Mr. McQuade. You're picking up.
Lt. Curtis McQuade: It was a Comanche trail, sir.
Captain Stephen Maddocks: Well, now.
Lt. Curtis McQuade: Comanche marks, sir.
[pulls Indian totem from inside coat hands it to CPT Maddocks]
[...]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
salvaged by Richard Boone
13 January 2011 | by RoughneckPaycheckSee all my reviews

I have a soft spot for b-movies and random westerns. This one is a run-of-the-mill cavalry vs. Indians job that suffers from uneven pacing, a miscast lead role, and over-reliance on formula plot elements. But there are a few interesting points that make it worth watching.

One of its chief virtues is the excellent job it does of capturing the day to day flavor of life in a remote cavalry outpost in 1870s southwest. The military manners, habits, and routines are portrayed with convincing detail. The class stratification between enlisted men and officers is utterly real. An early scene with dead soldiers being transported on horseback is played to grim, nauseating effect, with enlisted men displaying hardened indifference and black humor about the situation. All of this gives the film some weight and veracity.

On the other hand, it suffers from generic Hollywood artificiality, relying unthinkingly on shoot 'em up conventions of faceless Indians, and sporting a formulaic romantic triangle subplot. Another major problem is George Hamilton's performance. The character he plays is not particularly sympathetic or likable, and he does nothing to bring depth to it. He's unappealingly flat and cocky. A better actor in this key role would've gone a long way toward breathing some life into the film, especially in its flabby, tedious midsection.

But the real reason to watch this film is Richard Boone. I've liked him in just about everything I've seen him in, but here he is completely riveting. He plays the tough, smart, experienced commander of the undermanned outpost. He's a lonely man, who feels keenly the burden of his job. Late in the film there's a scene where he discovers a scene of carnage, with a number of his men dead, and his controlled rage is very moving. He brings the only real gravitas and feeling to the movie, effectively communicating the weight of life & death decisions and consequences. He's absolutely terrific.


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