Cinema: Durn Good Show

A Thunder of Drums (M-G-M), the best western released so far in 1961, is three kinds of a durn good show: 1) a flawed but earnest attempt to portray the making of a man and a soldier; 2) a carefully untheatrical, affectionately vernacular attempt to revive the daily life of a frontier fort in the 1870s; 3) a masterly attempt to show what fighting Indians was really like—a hideously silent war of wits with a subtle, cruel enemy who was seldom seen until it was too late.

A young lieutenant (George Hamilton) rides into Fort Canby, Ariz., his new billet.

He is casual,...

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