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War Drums (1957)

Approved | | Action, Drama, Romance | 21 March 1957 (USA)
The friendship between a white man and an Apache chief is tested when they fall in love with the same woman during a time of frontier conflict.


Reginald Le Borg (as Reginald LeBorg)


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Cast overview:
Lex Barker ... Mangas Coloradas
Joan Taylor ... Riva
Ben Johnson ... Luke Fargo
Larry Chance ... Ponce
Richard H. Cutting ... Judge Benton (as Richard Cutting)
John Pickard ... Sheriff Bullard
James Parnell James Parnell ... Arizona
John Colicos ... Chino
Tom Monroe Tom Monroe ... Dutch Herman
Jil Jarmyn ... Nona
Jeanne Carmen ... Yellow Moon
Mauritz Hugo ... Clay Staub
Ward Ellis Ward Ellis ... Delgadito
Jack Hupp Jack Hupp ... Lt. Roberts


Mexican girl Riva comes between two friends, Apache chief Mangas and trader Fargo, both of whom love the girl. She weds Mangas to the disappointment of Fargo and the dismay of Mangas's tribe. Fargo brokers peace between the Apache and the white settlers, but unscrupulous gold-hunters trigger war. It is up to Fargo to prevent a bloodbath. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Deadlist Thunder That Ever Rolled Across The West!


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

21 March 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Chief Red Sleeves See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Color by Deluxe)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to July 1956 Hollywood Reporter news items, the set was beset by several accidents, including a fire that destroyed a wardrobe trailer and a lightning storm that destroyed a generator, which delayed production for a few days. See more »


In the beginning of the movie, Luke (Ben Johnson's character) makes a reference to "President Lincoln". Later in the movie a newspaper is shown dated Oct. 21, 1860 which was before Lincoln was first elected president on November 6th of that year. See more »


Mangas Coloradas: [to Luke] To be killed by a woman would bring great shame to my family.
See more »


Referenced in A Question of Honour (1966) See more »


Ay Mi Sombrero
Traditional Mexican folk song
Joan taylor dances to instrumental version around campfire.
See more »

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User Reviews

I take the knife, I take the arrow, I take the lance! Red Sleeves is on the warpath!
3 April 2018 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

War Drums is directed by Reginald Le Borg and written by Gerald Drayson Adams. Its stars Lex Barker, Joan Taylor, Ben Johnson, Larry Chance and Richard H. Cutting. Music is by Les Baxter and cinematography by William Margulies.

Story pitches Barker as Apache chief Mangas Coloradas, who in spite of his strong friendship with white man Luke Fargo (Johnson), finds himself having to take arms up against his friend and his kind.

Familiar territory on the surface here, it's a story that has featured numerous times in Westerns across the decades. Yet even though the execution is sadly drab, and the ridiculous casting for some of the principal characters is irksome, the honourable intentions withing the story keep it from the dustbin.

The pro Native American angle is played with some feeling, though it required more depth and dramatic verve. Also of note is the deft handling of Taylor's character arc, who goes from being abused by all the men around her, into a warrior woman of substance, giving the pic a strong feminist bent.

Musical score is of the traditional Cowboys and Indians fare so beloved of "B" Western movie makers of the era, sitting somewhat uncomfortably with the more serious strands of the narrative. The Kanab locations in De Luxe Color are most pleasing, as is the stunt work on offer.

Though there's a few servings of action, such as ambush, Apache's fighting each other to the death, even a girl scrap! Pic never really gets out of a low gear for excitement purpose, while the ending just sort of fizzles out without fanfare. But for undemanding Western lovers there's enough here to not class it as a waste of time. 6/10

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