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Drums of Tahiti (1954)

Approved | | Adventure | 23 April 1954 (USA)
An American living in 19th-century Tahiti gets involved in intrigue against the French colonial government.


William Castle


Robert E. Kent (story and screenplay), Douglas Heyes (screenplay)


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Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Victor McLaglen, Jon Hall, Frances Farmer


Complete credited cast:
Dennis O'Keefe ... Mike Macklin
Patricia Medina ... Wanda Spence
Francis L. Sullivan ... Commissioner Pierre Duvois
George Keymas ... Angelo
Sylvia Lewis ... Mawaii
Cicely Browne Cicely Browne ... Gay Knight
Raymond Lawrence Raymond Lawrence ... Shoreham


In 1877, Tahiti secretly plans to revolt against France, aided by British gun-runners who are no match for police commissioner Duvois. Now, prosperous American Mike Macklin is persuaded by Queen Pomare to help. As an excuse for sailing to San Francisco, he must enlist a "wife" of convenience; enter gold-digging showgirl Wanda Spence. Will Mike tame her or ignore her in favor of inauthentic dancer Mawaii? A hurricane's brewing, the natives are restless...and so is the volcano! Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

23 April 1954 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Intrigues sous les tropiques See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.75 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Referenced in Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

DRUMS OF TAHITI (William Castle, 1954) **1/2
26 April 2014 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

Being the sole remaining unwatched costumer in William Castle's filmography (the rest of which is made up of Westerns, Thrillers and Comedies), I decided at this very late stage to include the film under review in my current Easter Epic marathon that is now winding down to a close as the end of the month approaches. While the previous such effort of the director that I had just watched, THE IRON GLOVE (1954), had been included by virtue of its swashbuckling nature and British monarchy background – that complimented other similar stuff that I had watched earlier in the month – DRUMS OF TAHITI belongs to another facet of the genre, i.e. South Sea adventures, which I had expressly kept out of this year's choices to cut down from my considerable selection of unwatched Epic titles.

Having said that, I had already watched four period pieces starring this one's leading lady, Patricia Medina – namely FORTUNES OF CAPTAIN BLOOD (1950), its sequel CAPTAIN PIRATE (1952), THE LADY AND THE BANDIT (1951) and LADY IN THE IRON MASK (1952) – in all of which, incidentally, she was flanked by handsome British star Louis Hayward. In this Sam Katzman cheapie, Castle pairs her with rugged American actor/director Dennis O'Keefe – best-known for starring in Anthony Mann's classic Film Noir, RAW DEAL (1948); interestingly, the actor's two directorial efforts were made just prior to and right after this one! For the record, Medina would star twice more for Castle in DUEL ON THE MISSISSIPPI (1955) and his last pre-Horror effort, URANIUM BOOM (1956) – both of which, as if you did not know, currently lie in my unwatched pile; besides, accompanying them in that seemingly bottomless pit, are these further costumers featuring Medina: THE FOXES OF HARROW (1947), THE FIGHTING O'FLYNN (1949), SANGAREE (1953), SIREN OF BAGDAD (1953) and PIRATES OF TRIPOLI (1955)…

At any rate, the acting honours in the film are stolen by rotund British character actor Francis L. Sullivan as a French Police Commissioner stationed in Tahiti and kept busy by British gunrunners seeking to aid a native uprising led by their aging queen. Needless to say, tavern owner O'Keefe is Sullivan's chess-playing crony by day and adventurer-foil by night; equally typical of such fare, O'Keefe's star attraction (Sylvia Lewis) is enamoured of her boss and eventually butts heads with incoming romantic interest Medina. Curiously, much of the relatively short running-time is spent in San Francisco where O'Keefe picks up a wife for himself (guess who?) as a ruse to cover his clandestine activities from under the nose of best man Sullivan; Medina tries to abscond with her $2000 fee to New York but, eventually, not only does she go through with her part of the bargain but she falls for her newfound life companion during a volcanic eruption on a nearby island where the boatload of guns are stashed! As can be seen from the above synopsis, this is a very modest programmer but Castle does insert a couple of neat 3-D tricks throughout (a knife thrown at Sullivan when he discovers a batch of guns being smuggled in at the start of the picture; Lewis bringing her fiery props in extreme close-up during her number; Sullivan popping a champagne bottle during the muted wedding party in which he is deliberately made to pass out, etc.) to liven up things somewhat.

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