Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Drums In the Deep South, An Offbeat Little "Western"

Drums In the Deep South
Poster: RKO Radio Pictures
                                Drums In the Deep South, An Off Beat Little "Western"


                                                                              Jay Agan

      Not a western exactly. More of an "eastern". Drums In the Deep South (RKO 1951) is set in 1864 Georgia during The War for Southern Independence.

      James Craig leads a reduced artillery battery (four 12 pounders) on a mission to stall the Union advance. This is achieved by setting up positions on top of "Devils' Mountain" (Played by Wyomings' Devils' Tower.), a huge basalt pillar dominating the terrain over a vital rail line. The considerable elevation gives the guys in gray the advantage in range & the bluecoats end up bringing in larger naval guns to quell them. The interesting part is how the rebs get the cannon to the top. They do it through the cave system INSIDE the mountain. The union protagonist (Guy Madison), also familiar with the mountain & area about, devises a plan to blow the peak out from under.

      As with a lot of Hollywood flicks, the situation is complicated by a love triangle (A quadrangle if you count the lonely Union sargeant in.) It's not enough that Craig & Madison are in love with the same woman (Barbara Payton). Her farm also happens to be in the vicinity of the mountain & under occupation by the blue coats. It goes without saying she's loyal to the Southern cause & does what she can.

      I like this little movie in spite of the triangle slowing things down. It's at times eerie (cave scenes) & fantastic. Instead of epic up front heroics, we see a slightly grittier tale of move/countermove & intrigue.

      A few laughable scenes mar it. Gun crew standing next to the muzzles as they fire (They can be just as deadly "offside".) . A long shot of the union position has a Union cannoneer carrying a humungous cannon ball all by himself, straight up with no strain.

      All in all, not a bad little movie. Best print I've found is on a Digiview dollar disc. Check it out.

                                          Article copyright © 1-25-2011 Jay Agan

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