The Warner Archive release of Delmer Daves’s 1954 Drum Beat is cause for celebration.
Daves’s Western classics in-clude the original 3:10 to Yuma, the wonderfully layered Cowboy and Broken Arrow. One of the unsung giants, Daves directed these films with a keen eye for realism, but his approach to Drum Beat is more sly and complex.
The story of an Indian fighter—portrayed by Alan Ladd, who also produced—and h is conflicts with the Modoc Captain Jack, played by Charles Bronson, begins as a typical Warner Bros. Ac tion Western, but becomes much more. The film examines all sides of the Indian issue, with eyes open, and it is a perfect companion piece to Daves’s convention-shattering Broken Arrow.
Drum Beat shows the deep wounds of the Indian Wars through terrific action and the Indians’ scarring with fine performances. Never available before in the U.S., this widescreen transfer does the film, its makers and its message proud.
C. Courtney Joyner is a screenwriter and director with more than 25 produced movies to his credit. He is the author of The Westerners: Interviews with Actors, Directors and Writers.