War Drums

The Deadlist Thunder That Ever Rolled Across The West!

75 min     5.4     1957     USA


The friendship between a white man & an Apache chief is tested when they fall in love with the same woman


John Chard wrote:
I take the knife, I take the arrow, I take the lance! Red Sleeves is on the warpath! War Drums is directed by Reginald Le Borg and written by Gerald Drayson Adams. Its stars Lex Barker, Joan Taylor, Ben Johnson, Larry Chance and Richard H. Cutting. Music is by Les Baxter and cinematography by William Margulies. Story pitches Barker as Apache chief Mangas Coloradas, who in spite of his strong friendship with white man Luke Fargo (Johnson), finds himself having to take arms up against his friend and his kind. Familiar territory on the surface here, it's a story that has featured numerous times in Westerns across the decades. Yet even though the execution is sadly drab, and the ridiculous casting for some of the principal characters is irksome, the honourable intentions withing the story keep it from the dustbin. The pro Native American angle is played with some feeling, though it required more depth and dramatic verve. Also of note is the deft handling of Taylor's character arc, who goes from being abused by all the men around her, into a warrior woman of substance, giving the pic a strong feminist bent. Musical score is of the traditional Cowboys and Indians fare so beloved of "B" Western movie makers of the era, sitting somewhat uncomfortably with the more serious strands of the narrative. The Kanab locations in De Luxe Color are most pleasing, as is the stunt work on offer. Though there's a few servings of action, such as ambush, Apache's fighting each other to the death, even a girl scrap! Pic never really gets out of a low gear for excitement purpose, while the ending just sort of fizzles out without fanfare. But for undemanding Western lovers there's enough here to not class it as a waste of time. 6/10