Distant Drums

Raoul Walsh

T. it.: Tamburi lontani. Scen.: Niven Busch, Martin Rackin. F.: Sid Hickox. Mo.: Folmar Blangsted. Scgf.: Douglas Bacon. Mu.: Max Steiner. Su.: Oliver S. Garretson. Int.: Gary Cooper (capitano Quincy Wyatt), Mari Aldon (Judy Beckett), Richard Webb (tenente Richard Tufts), Ray Teal (soldato Mohair), Arthur Hunnicutt (Monk), Robert Barrat (generale Zachary Taylor). Prod.: United States Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures. Pri. pro.: 29 dicembre 1951 35mm. D.: 101’. Col. 

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

This is the kind of film – even the film – that marked many an early childhood, including mine, with an overwhelming sense of living through moments in the middle of ‘the best adventure in life’. Distant Drums defined many things: the sense of adventure and cinema, action and meditation, spectacle and silence. The story (a free adaptation of Objective Burma, as Colorado Territory had been of High Sierra) is set in Florida in 1840, and tells of a journey not to a promised land but: to difficulties – snakes, croco­diles, brush impossible to penetrate. The tale is told with a perfect sense of adven­ture, through movement, silently sneaking through, being part of nature, surprises and sometimes fast action, often danger­ously at the borderline between life and death.It’s like a definition: what a true man is (a tone expressed in the narrative by a younger officer: “I saw the man with whom I would share the most remarkable adventure of my life”) and how thrilling a true woman can be. Very concrete and at the same time a dream. Captain Quincy Wyatt – a “soldier, swamp man, gentle­man, savage” – is one of Gary Cooper’s roles whose movements seem to define man’s primal elements, like the elements fire and water. Jacques Lourcelles words it best: “This perfect Walshian hero is therefore a loner, but without melancholy or bitterness. Upstanding, steady, master of danger, these notions – both physical and moral – that characterize his actions need a clear, rectilinear narrative without bravura, filling the eyes with a living, fas­cinating plastic transcription, fully pres­ent in this accomplished, laconic film”.
(Peter von Bagh)

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