Entertaining and, of course, inspiring derring do to protect and preserve the British Empire
Sep 4, 2011
The Drum (or Drums as it was released in the U. S.) came out the year before The Four Feathers. Sabu plays Prince Azim, a young princeling from a British protectorate up near the Khyber pass. His uncle, Prince Ghul, has just killed Sabu's father, the rightful ruler, and chased Sabu out. Prince Ghul is played by Raymond Massey with sneering lips, bulging eyes and dark makeup. After several adventures as Prince Azim tries to escape Prince Ghul's assassins, young Azim reaches Captain Carruthers (Roger Livesey), whom he had met earlier while his father was alive. Carruthers, his wife (played by Valerie Hobson) and a small contingent of British troops are setting out for the principality to inforce a peace treaty, not knowing that Ghul is organizing the mountain tribes in a revolt against the British. Will Prince Azim be believed when he tries to tell the British governor of the plot? Will Carruthers, his wife and his troops be betrayed at a great dinner where Prince Ghul plans to use hidden machine guns as part of the entertainment? Carruthers is no fool; he has his own spies at work. Will Prince Azim, who has sneaked back into the principality to save Carruthers, be able to warn the British in time by beating the huge holy drum of Tokot?
Even though all the natives are either childlike or evil, the last half of the movie picks up a lot of steam. And it's always reassuring to witness the unflappable, exquisite manners of the British ruling class in movies of this period.
Dinner in the residency, for instance, is interrupted when something is thrown through a window. Carruthers starts forward, which will expose him to whomever is outside.
His wife, clutching her throat, says, "Darling, not you."
"Darling," Carruthers replies, "Of course me." He strides forward and finds a bloody...well, you need to see the movie.
Sabu was just 14 when he made this movie, his second. He handles himself well and has a good deal of natural charm. He was a very likeable actor whose career petered out as he grew older. Roger Livesey, with his inimitable, husky voice was a first-rate actor. In this movie, he's mainly the derring-do, upper-class Brit officer. To see just how good he was, watch him in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, I Know Where I’m Going and, in old age, as the Duke of St. Bungay in The Pallisers.
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About the reviewer
C. O. DeRiemer (Charley2)
Since I retired in 1995 I have tried to hone skills in muttering to myself, writing and napping. At 75, I live in one of those places where one moves from independent living to hospice. I expect to begin … more