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Drums Along the Mohawk Reviews

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Bob S

Super Reviewer

February 17, 2009
Admittedly not Ford's best, not even his best in 1939 but Drums Along the Mohawk is still one of the better movies about the American Revolution and it contains some of Ford's most beautiful compositions.
dietmountaindew
dietmountaindew

Super Reviewer

May 31, 2010
full of stereotypes, especially the description of indians as ape-like barbarians or christianity-converted dim-witts. i watched it just because i was curious how claudette colbert looks in color movies, and her costumes are sorta plain without the genius touch of paramout's travis banton, not doing colbert justice. henry fonda feels lacklusterly awkward with his un-becoming pig-tail. the reason i could be able to abscent-mindedly finish viewing it is its striking photography of inland wilderness, and how soothingly wide the blue sky is rendered along with limitlessly grand pastures, cliffy hills and the massive forests of tall pines(who knows what kind of tree is that..)..it manifests the aloof charm of primitive inland america despite the people in it weren't (portrayed) half as charming as its breath-taking landscapes. i would certainly watch it again to doze off while gazing at those striking views of celluloid nature.
Edward B

Super Reviewer

November 6, 2006
It would have been emotionally uplifting at the time it was released, but it doesn't hold up today.
garyX
garyX

Super Reviewer

November 2, 2007
John Ford was responsible for many of the best westerns ever made, but this tedious frontier soap opera is certainly not one of them. Henry Fonda plays a frontier farmer caught up in the war of Independence with new wife Claudette Colbert, a pairing that is of course always watchable, but the story relies far too much on melodrama and frankly bores. Highlights include Fonda's hollow-eyed and shellshocked account of his first battle (which happens off-screen) and Edna May Oliver's cantankerous old broad, and it does pick up a little at the end during the seige of a fort, but it's far too little too late. Add to this the fact that the patriotic climax in which the newly created stars and stripes is raised to signify victory over the English is accompanied by the strains of "God save the King" and I couldn't help thinking that Ford must've been asleep at the wheel for this one...
Apeneck F

Super Reviewer

July 14, 2007
loved it
Henrik S

Super Reviewer

September 6, 2010
I love John Ford and the The Quiet Man might very well be my favourite movie but this flick is plain and simple a horrible, dull and very racists piece of crap. Claudette Colbert makes for a cute lead with Bambi eyes but her role is very one-dimensional and limited to the faithful wife of the American Soldier. Henry Fonda is colourless and bland. What upsets me the most is the ridiculous portrayl of the First Nations and black people, they are either ravaging monsters and blabbering idiots. To make things worse, at the very end of the movie, to the sound of the national anthem everybody pledges allegiance to the flag, including the idiot Indian and servant black woman !

Of course, this being John Ford's first colour film, there are some lovely scenes of great cinematic beauty to be seen in this movie (inspired by Gone with the Wind it seems) but that does not excuse the lack of story and the blatant racism.

Utter Rubbish.
HX
Dracula787
Dracula787

Super Reviewer

May 16, 2009
I?ve always had a love hate relationship with John Ford, love the filmmaking hate the politics. One of the most notable periods of Fords career was the period from 1939 to 1940 when he released four movies, three of them classics. The classics were Stagecoach, Young Mr. Lincoln, and The Grapes of Wrath, then there was Drums Along the Mohawk which is said to be quite good, but not up to the level of the other three in the winning streak. I felt compelled to check it out, and I?m probably going to concur with popular opinion. This was Ford?s first color film, and it has that really beautiful look of other late-thirties color flicks. I also liked that the film was a look at the American Revolution?s western front fighting against Native Americans allied with the British, not a section of history that?s examined very often. Aside from those two interesting aspects, the film is mostly lacking. The characters were boring, and the film?s view of Native Americans seemed unsavory even by Western standards.
cody f

Super Reviewer

December 17, 2008
Fun film about a Newlywed couple who move to the frontier of upstate New York during the American Revolution. While they are there they have problems with the weather, Indians, and the damn British! This is Ford's 1st color film and it looks great. It was all shot on location in Utah and it is one of the best looking films of its time. There is a chase scene where 3 Indians are chasing Fonda through the plains and wilderness that is intense and gorgeous.
January 3, 2014
Visually wonderful, a 1939 technicolor piece, but oh it is so dated. It is ultimately about how the American settlers were able to displace the native people from their own land, and how unreasonably they were to side with the British who would have given them a chance to save their way of life. And Claudette Colbert, who spends most of the movie, wailing or fainting, is about 20 years too old to play a young bride.
Sarfaraz Abbasi
September 1, 2013
Drums Along the Mohawk produced by pioneer Darryl F. Zanuck, directed by John Ford (Stagecoach). Starring legendary Henry Fonda, legendary Claudette Colbert and Edna May Oliver (the standout in the film playing wealthy widow who owns vast farm), Ward Bond (The Searchers), Chief John Big Tree (the hilarious character - when all acted seriously), Russell Simpson. Film is based on the novel of same name by Walter D. Edmonds. This is first color film by John Ford, and so was for Claudette Colbert. Made over the budget of $2 million. Film was nominated for two Academy Awards, namely, Best Supporting Actress for Edna May Oliver, and Best Cinematography.

Set in 1776 - during American Revolution on the Albany, New York frontier - Gilbert (Henry Fonda) and Lana (Claudette Colbert) are newlywed couple heading to start their new life at Deerfield at Mohawk Valley. But they are ambushed by Indians and British ; as their house is burnt to ashes.

Fabulous photography as well as direction (John Ford) - Film begins mildly, and by caressing your brain with its simple and doable characters, all of whom gave their true dedication of acting (especially the Indian on-the-side-with-Americans / the priest / and other meadow-owners). I shall not tackle the matter of acting; as much as I would like to touch the subject of creating an atmosphere that was complete mastery - and all that credit goes to the crew involved in fabricating that small set-designing.
August 3, 2013
Drums Along The Mohawk is a very enjoyable and very underrated historical film. While the film could use more polish in terms of its plot, for the most part, it is a very engaging film that is well written, well acted, action packed when it needs to be, and funny when it wants to be. If you enjoy an interesting historical film, this is one worth checking out because it succeeds in a large portion of the criteria for such films. I'm not particularly sure of why some people seem to hate this film nowadays, but, oh well.
July 11, 2012
I love Henry Fonda in this movie he was brilliant and so brave in the film!!!! :D
June 12, 2012
"drums along the mohawk" has the fantastic performances, brilliant direction, and clean cinematography that i have come to expect from a john ford film. the story is often sad, with a few random humorous moments thrown in for good measure.
starlett2005
May 1, 2012
Drums Along the Mohawk is a stunning film. It is about a husband who takes his new wife to his farm in upstate New York. Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda give excellent performances. The screenplay is well written. John Ford did a great job directing this movie. I enjoyed watching this motion picture because of the drama and romance. Drums Along the Mohawk is a must see.
Virus
May 7, 2009
John Ford's first color film is quite good. One of about 3 really good to great films he made in 1939. Henry Fonda is great and so is the rest of the cast.
gillianren
June 7, 2008
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].
Woody
December 14, 2007
Mildly entertaining whenever there is some action on screen and the cinematography is pretty good -- even though John Ford preferred black and white film to color.

However, the melodrama between Fonda and Colbert really dragged the story down, in my opinion.
jazza923
May 13, 2005
CHALK UP ANOTHER GREAT FILM FROM 1939. EXCELLENT DRAMA, LOOSELY BASED ON THE GREAT BOOK HAS EXCELLENT PERFORMANCES FROM CLAUDETTE COLBERT AND HENRY FONDA. EDNA MAY OLIVER IS SUPERB IN A SUPPORTING ROLE. EXCELLENT PRODUCTION VALUES, A FINE FILM IN EVERY RESPECT.
Othello
July 2, 2004
(VHS) (First Viewing, 5th Ford film)

Pauline Kael calls this film "one of John Ford's less inspired epics," and I think she's being generous. [b]Drums Along the Mohawk[/b], a tedious look at frontier life at the time of the American Revolutionary War, has Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert suffer through thunderstorms, Indian raids, wars, etc., and very little of it is of any interest.

Admittedly, the film does get mildly interesting when the horribly stereotyped Indians roast the suffering couple's log cabin while doing a war dance, and eccentric widow Edna May Oliver does generate some energy. The early Technicolor cinematography is very beautiful at times, but as lifeless as a painting. A colossal mess. I don't know why I even bothered.
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