GenreWestern ScreenplayDavid Chandler CountryUnited States
Release dateApril 1951 (1951-04) (United States) Based on"Stand at Spanish Boot" WriterDavid Chandler (screenplay), Harry Brown (from "Stand at Spanish Boot") CastStephen McNally (Sam Leeds), Coleen Gray (Sally), Willard Parker (Mayor Joe Madden), Arthur Shields (Rev. Griffin), James Griffith (Lt. Glidden), Armando Silvestre (Pedro-Peter) Similar moviesLast of the Renegades, Treasure of Silver Lake, The Desperado Trail, Apache Gold, Ulzana's Raid, The Gambler
Thinking to strengthen the towns appeal to outside business, mayor Joe Madden (Willard Parker) decides to rid Spanish Foot of its prostitutes and its most infamous gambler, Sam Leeds (Stephen McNally). No sooner are they run out of town, however, than the prostitutes are killed by marauding Apache Indians. Leeds survives to bring the news back to town, but the mayor isnt buying his story. Its only after the Apache attack that the townsfolk come to fully appreciate Sam and his gun.
Apache Drums is a 1951 Technicolor American Western directed by Hugo Fregonese and produced by Val Lewton. The drama features Stephen McNally, Coleen Gray, and Willard Parker. The film was based on the novel Stand at Spanish Boot, by Harry Brown. Apache Drums was the last film Val Lewton produced before his death.
A gambler is thrown out of a western town, but returns when the town is suddenly threatened by a band of marauding Apaches.
A notorious gambler is thrown out of a small town named Spanish Boot, but he quickly returns when he discovers the town is threatened by the Mescalero Apaches led by Chief Victorio.
Stephen McNally as Sam Leeds
Coleen Gray as Sally
Willard Parker as Mayor Joe Madden
Arthur Shields as Rev. Griffin
James Griffith as Lt. Glidden
Armando Silvestre as Pedro-Peter
Georgia Backus as Mrs. Keon
Clarence Muse as Jehu
Ruthelma Stevens as Betty Careless
James Best as Bert Keon
Chinto Guzman as Chacho
Ray Bennett as Mr. Keon
When the film was released The New York Times gave the film a mixed review and wrote, "Apache Drums is tense and exciting fare when its green and red-painted Indians, yelping and keening, ride to attack or literally bite the dust with authentic thuds. When it is loquaciously appraising its principals, it is, to quote one of them, kind of dull and tame."
Recently, film critic Dennis Schwartz reviewed the film favorably, writing, "Its the kind of effective kickass B western where the cavalry comes in the nick of time to rescue the white folks from the attacking Indians. Director Hugo Fregonese (Untamed Frontier) gives a nod to Lewtons eye for detail and shadowy photography...David Chandler turns in a crisp screenplay thats always tense and filled with exciting action sequences except when he keeps things too chatty, which tamps down the narrative with a dull soap opera romantic feud...Pretty darn good stuff for such a modest western, showing that it takes all kinds to be brave and that the worst situation might bring out the best in a man."
Time Out Londons review was also complementary, writing, "Beautifully staged by Fregonese, especially the climactic attack on the church where the survivors make their stand, with painted Apaches erupting through the high windows like demons from hell. Val Lewtons last production, it is full of touches instantly recognisable from his RKO series: the subtle ambivalence undermining attitudes and ethical principles, the generous stance against racism, the concern for childhood (the gambler distracts the frightened kids with an exhibition of sleight of hand), the love of traditional songs (the kids led into a chorus of Oranges and Lemons; the minister countering the Apache chanting by launching into The Men of Harlech)."