Music directors ought to pay a little more attention to the fact that "My Country 'Tis of Thee" is to the same tune as "God Save the King" (or, currently, queen). The great dramatic flag-raising scene here is made a little ludicrous because of it. It's most likely that these people would only have known "God Save the King," in no small part because I'm not sure the other had been written yet. The point is, we are celebrating that the Americans won the war, that the US is its own country now (leaving aside the failed experiment of the Articles of Confederation), and so we're raising our flag--to the strains of our opponnents' national anthem.
This is part of the pre-war patriotism. Just before the US got into World War II, when isolationism was at its height, you get a lot of movies about America's Great Past. Sometimes, what you get is something like this. John Ford, in his first colour film, brings us part of Our Glorious Revolution. We have a young, loving couple--heck, we have Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert!--who are building a new life together against the backdrop of the American struggle for independence. Their farm is burned, but they persevere. We can [i]all[/i] persevere against the hordes of those who would oppress us, right?
Right. Now, I don't know and can't look up what Ford's pre-war politics were, but given his post-war politics, he was probably pretty strongly anti-Hitler. I think Ford was trying to indicate that we had to fight for our freedoms. I think Ford really wanted us to know that, as is tediously repeated by certain factions these days, freedom isn't free. Yes. Absolutely, you have to fight for your freedoms. But not everyone, even Ford knew, had to actually take up guns in actual fights. Check out his defense of Joseph Mankiewicz and defiance of Cecil B. DeMille one of these days.
Oh, I don't even know. It's hard to examine films of this era to know what they're actually trying to say. Well--[i]Gone With the Wind[/i]. And this is another film which had its few Oscar nominations swamped by [i]that[/i] little juggernaut. But [i]Drums Along the Mohawk[/i] is a mediocre film. It's not bad. It's not good. It's good enough so that I'm not actually giving it a bad rating. The use of colour is less glaring than in a lot of other early films. Henry Fonda's always worth watching; I think this is one of the movies that made his actual children pretty angry, because he's a pretty good father here. And Claudette Colbert is delightful as always.
But don't spend too much time analyzing the politics. It's easy to do, and in some ways, it's pretty fun. Just don't overdo it. It'll take away from your enjoyment of what's a decent little film, and that sort of analysis is best saved for more thoughtful films. Like [i]Invasion of the Body Snatchers[/i].