A Thunder of Drums (1961)
“A regiment of forgotten men… a woman no man could forget!”
Director: Joseph Newman
Cast: Richard Boone, George Hamilton, Luana Patten
Synopsis: 1st Lieutenant Curtis McQuade, a cavalry officer without field experience, is assigned to a remote, understaffed post where he attempts to adjust to this new life under the once-disgraced Captain Maddocks.
I watched A Thunder of Drums expecting to see a run-of-the-mill second-feature western, so I was pleasantly surprised to discover something of a gem. While this is by no means a classic, it does possess an intelligent script, nicely paced plot, great location photography, and assured direction from old hand Joseph M. Newman.
The story primarily concerns the conflict between the captain of a cavalry outpost, and a newly assigned lieutenant. Richard Boone, as the gruff, fiery-tempered captain, is nothing short of a revelation. Boone has never really made much of an impression on me in the movies of his that I have seen, but in this one he is truly outstanding, and completely convincing. Hamilton, always a lightweight actor, becomes part of the scenery in their shared scenes. In fact, Hamilton’s acting is a little flat in places, especially in his final scene with Luana Patten.
This movie also boasts quite an impressive cast: Boone, Arthur O’ Connell, Charles Bronson, Richard Chamberlain, Slim Pickens, Duane Eddy(!). Be sure to catch this one if it resurfaces on TV.
(Reviewed 11th May 2002)