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A Distant Trumpet

Poster for the film's French release
Directed by Raoul Walsh
Produced by William H. Wright
Written by John Twist
Starring Troy Donahue
Suzanne Pleshette
William Reynolds
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography William H. Clothier
Editing by David Wages
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) May 27, 1964 (U.S.)
Running time 117 min.
Country U.S.A.
Language English

A Distant Trumpet is a 1964 American Western film, the last directed by Raoul Walsh. The screenplay by John Twist, Albert Beich, and Richard Fielder is based on the 1951 novel of the same name by Paul Horgan.



In 1883, US Cavalry lieutenant Matthew Hazard, newly graduated from West Point, is assigned to isolated Fort Delivery on the Mexican border of Arizona, where he meets commanding officer Teddy Mainwarring's wife Kitty, whom he later rescues from an Indian attack. Soon after a new commander, Major General Alexander Quait, takes charge. When his efforts to capture Chiricahua chief War Eagle fail, he orders Hazard into Mexico to cajole the man into surrendering. Hazard convinces War Eagle to return with him with the promise the Indians will be provided a safe haven at a reservation in Arizona. Enroute to the fort, they encounter Major Miller, who orders the Indians be sent to Florida. Hazard and Quaint journey to Washington, D.C. to request government officials to reverse their decision and allow Hazard to keep his word to War Eagle.


Critical reception

In his review in the New York Times, Bosley Crowther called the film "a deadly dull you even lose interest in watching the horses and the stunt men doing their stuff...Seldom has there been a Western picture on which so much money was spent...from which so little excitement, energy or colorfulness exudes. It's as though Mr. Walsh and everybody were bitten by tsetse flies and went through the business of shooting the picture in a state of drowsiness."[1]

Variety said, "The stunning location terrain of the Red Rocks area of New Mexico and Arizona's Painted Desert gives the production a tremendous pictorial lift. Max Steiner's score is a driving dramatic force but the use of the main theme seems a trifle excessive. The picture would benefit from a lot more pruning by editor David Wages."[2]

Time Out New York feels that despite "an average script and a colourless lead performance from Donahue" the film "[emerges] as a majestically simple, sweeping cavalry Western, a little reminiscent of Ford in mood and manner. Brilliantly shot by William Clothier, it tends to have its cake and eat it by indulging in a spectacular massacre before introducing the liberal message, but still goes further than most in according respect to the Indian by letting him speak his own language (with subtitles)."[3]


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