"I first saw this film as a boy in what was probably its second run through the theatres in the mid '50's. I loved it then; my now 25 year old son loved it in the '80's and I love it today. It is a '50's era cowboy v. Indian shoot 'em up in an unusual locale, the Florida Everglades. The plot is very straightforward--Coop is an army officer in pre Civil War Florida who has seen his Indian wife murdered and lives with his son and a loyal detachment of soldiers on his own island. The bad guys are running guns to the "hostiles" from a fort on the other side of Lake Okeechobee. Coop and his men are sent on a mission to take the fort, destroy it and return home. They go by boat and take care of the fort but things go awry and they must brave the swamps on foot with a Seminole war party hot on their heels as they try to return home.The movie basically consists of Coop getting his assignment, taking the fort and then, for the last 75% of the film, trying to get home against great odds. This one is solid action from virtually start to finish in the '50's good guys v. bad guys style. It is superbly done. Accepting it for what it intends to be, I enjoy it just as much at 50+ years of age as I did as an 8 year old.If you are a baby boomer and loved the action films and TV shows of your youth, you will thoroughly enjoy this one. Not only does it feature Coop in the lead--his usual quiet but brave and resolute self--but the supporting actors are excellent. Arthur Hunnicutt as Monk is superb. Hunnicutt received an academy award nomination for a similar role in "The Big Sky" several years later. He was a Walter Brennan type--just as good but not as well known. He played Davy Crockett in Republic's "The Last Command" and was a superb sidekick to John Wayne and Robert Mitchum in "El Dorado" nearly 15 years later. Hard core baby boomers may remember Robert Webb, whose character is the narrator, as TV's Saturday morning action adventurer "Captain Midnight." This film does an excellent job of creating and maintaining suspense from start to finish. I can not conceive of anyone who likes '50's action films not thoroughly enjoying it. Why anyone would see it as "racist" is beyond me. It's just the troopers against the Indians--just like any western of the era, except set in Florida against the Seminoles pre Civil War instead of in the west after. Coop's character was married to an Indian princess and has a surviving son with her. This is racist? Please!One point of note is that the fort used by the gunrunners and taken by the troopers early in the film is the Castillo de San Marcos--constructed in the 1600's and still standing in St. Augustine, Florida. You can tour it today. The famous Seminole chief, Osceolea, was held prisoner there but escaped.See the film, see the fort. They are both fun."
"Distant Drums" - an eastern Western
Don Graeter | 01/12/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In a previous review, dgraeter seems to have covered most of the bases and I agree wholeheartedly. I loved "Distant Drums" as a kid and it's just as good today, remaining a fine actioner set in a lush and novel setting - Florida pre-Civil War and pre-tourist! Having lived not 30 miles from location filming, I appreciate the scenery, birds, etc. even more today than as a child. Cooper is fine as Quincy Wyatt, quiet yet exuding strength and purpose. The rest of the cast is admirable in a shoot that must have been trying under the best of conditions.As far as supporting actors go, check out Sheb Wooley as Private Jessup in his first appearance with Gary Cooper. His next would be in "High Noon" as Ben Miller.Action, adventure, plot, Seminoles, ladies in distress, heroism, alligators, tropical birds, underwater photography (I read somewhere that a special underwater camera was developed just to film the fight scene between Cooper and the Seminole chief)...if there's anything more to ask from a movie, I'm stumped.Check out "Distant Drums." You won't regret it!"
Good Ol' Coop and his Swamp Fox
Rob | Texas | 06/27/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For Gary Cooper fans, this is an above average flick. It's not in the same class as The Westerner or Sgt York, but it has plenty of suspense and action. It also has one of the hottest leading ladies I've ever seen! Apparently some hotshot must have married her (Mari Aldon) and cut short her career because this seems to be her only lead role. As for Coop, he's in fine shape-ok, a little past his prime, but still handsome and tough. His entrance scene is a great shot showing what a Golden Age movie star ought to look like. After attacking and destroying the Seminole Indians arms cache (Florida circa 1840) most of the movie concerns the small band of soldiers led by Cooper being chased through the Everglades by some seriously fearsome Seminoles. In a way, it's a chase movie, and the retreating group is in a situation of convincing danger. Therein lies the heroic nature of a Gary Cooper character in his adventure films: he is a formidable opponent, but he can be killed. He is not the superhuman as Clint Eastwood often is, or even John Wayne. You get the feeling that he may not make it to the end of the movie. However, he is the kind of man you would put your faith in and follow just about anywhere. Coop seems to be enjoying himself in the film and looks like he's doing many of his own stunts. The climactic and imaginative underwater knife duel is well done and caps the tension of the story. I have to admit, the movie started a bit slow for me, but I continued watching and was pleasantly rewarded. For a younger Gary Cooper, and more violent film, I would recommend The Real Glory, but this is a harder to find movie than Distant Drum. One bit of criticism is, as usual, with the quality of the print. It's not terrible, but it is faded somewhat. I give it four stars because of the action and suspense, Cooper's lively performance, and Miss Aldon is HOT!"
Good. VERY Good.
Buxx | 11/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Like many of the other reviewers, I saw this at the theater as a kid...actually a toddler...and it has stuck with me ever since. Oh, there are some faults with the script, and it isn't HIGH NOON, but then it wasn't meant to be. Nor was it produced as an historical documentary. What the movie DID do for me as a kid was spur an interest in reading about the Seminole Indians and Florida history. It's a good, VERY good action flick."
Mrs. Pamela L. Ledet | 03/04/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I was very disappointed at the sound quality of this video. The sound goes up and down and buzzes in various places.Have returned for replacement twice and so I have to believe the problem is with the Master Disc."