Distant Drums (1951): Raoul Walsh’s Actioner, Starring Gary Cooper

In “Distant rums, “ directed by Raoul Walsh, Gary Cooper plays Captain Quincy Wyatt, an experienced Indian fighter, who leads a small force deep into the Florida Everglades to put down a Seminole uprising.

During the arduous journey, the men come upon a beautiful captive girl named Mari Aldon (Judy Beckett) who, with her servant, joins the men on their mission.

Surprisingly, the girl proves to be as worthy a “soldier” as Wyatt and his men during the final Seminole attack.

On paper, Niven Busch’s story was a potentially exciting tale of the swamp fighters who turned the tide of the savage Seminole Indian War.

Though not one of Walsh’s or Cooper’s best actioners, the movie has its moments. But the context is far more interesting than the text: The movie benefits from on-location shooting in Florida’s Everglades.


Director: Raoul Walsh.
Producer: Milton Sperling.
Script: Niven Busch and Martin Rackin, from a story by Niven Busch.
Camera: Sid Hickox.
Art Director: Douglas Bacon.
Editor: Folmer Blangsted.
Musical score: Max Steiner.
Set Decorator: William Wallace.
Costumer: Marjorie Best.
Makeup Artist: Gordon Bau.
Sound Recorder: Oliver S. Garetson.
Assistant Director: Russ Saunders.

Running time: 101 Minutes.
Released: December 29, 1951.
DVD: May 11, 2004


Gary Cooper (Capt. Quincy Wyatt)
Mari Aldon (Judy Beckett)
Richard Webb (Lt. Richard Tufts)
Ray Teal (Private Mohair)
Arthur Hunnicutt (Monk)
Robert Barrat (General Zachary Taylor)
Clancy Cooper (sgt. Shane)
Larry Carper (Chief Ocala)
Dan White (Cpl. Peachtree)
Mel Archer (Pvt. Jeremiah Hiff)
Angelita McCall (Amelia)
Lee Roberts (Pvt. Tibbett)
Gregg Barton (Pvt. James Tasher)
Sheb Wooley (Pvt. Jessup)
Warren MacGregor (Pvt. Sullivan)
George Scanlan (Bosun)
Carl Harbaugh (M. Duprez)
Beverly Brandon (Mme. Duprez)
Sidney Capo (Indian Boy)