Navy Lieutenant Tufts accompanies scout Quincy Wyatt into the Everglades to rout the Seminole Indians who are threatening the early settlers in Florida. When the command is forced to run, Wyatt and Seminole Chief Oscala square off in an exciting climax.
It Worked for Me
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.