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Drums Along the Mohawk

Claudette Colbert , Henry Fonda , John Ford    DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Lawless frontier. Indian attacks. Settlers protecting themselves the only way they know how-with guns and courage. In the years before the Revolutionary War, the East was as wild as the West would be one hundred years later. Henry Fonda delivers one of his most memorable performances ever as a young frontier leader protecting his family in the backwoods of New York state. Claudette Colbert so-stars as his spirited wife. With a fine supporting cast that also includes Edna May Oliver and John Carradine, this is one of John Ford's most exciting historical dramas.


Nineteen thirty-nine is often proposed as the movies' halcyon year, and three reasons why were directed by John Ford: Stagecoach, Young Mr. Lincoln, and Drums Along the Mohawk. In that exalted company Drums... would have to be accounted "merely superb"--even if it's the best film ever made about the American Revolution and, oh, only about eighth-best picture of its year.

Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert play newlyweds in New York's Mohawk Valley at the time of the Revolutionary War. That war is more a distant rumor than a direct concern of people with cabins to raise, crops to harvest, and firstborn on the way. When it comes to their valley, in the form of hitherto-peaceable Indians whipped up by a gaunt Tory with an eyepatch (John Carradine), life changes as though with the passing of a cloud shadow.

In this, his first color film, Ford created indelible images of the dawning of America: a lone wagon making its way through acres of long grass rippling in the wind; the Indians, at the onset of their first raid, seeming to materialize out of the mist, out of the very trunks of trees; a ragged line of farmers with flintlocks passing along a split-rail fence, then resolving into a column, an army, marching toward a distant horizon. (Utah's Wasatch mountain country stands in persuasively for upstate New York in pioneer days.) Edna May Oliver scored a best-supporting-actress Oscar nomination as a memorably crusty frontier widow, while Ward Bond--oddly omitted from the opening credits--claimed a place of honor in the John Ford Stock Company playing Fonda's best friend. --Richard T. Jameson

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Revolutionary War classic June 26 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Drums Along the Mohawk is a very good movie about a period in American history that not many movies have been made about. Set during the Revolutionary War, the story is about two newlyweds and their new life in the Mohawk Valley. The couple is trying to establish themselves with a home and farm of their own, but are interrupted when the British and the Mohawk Indian tribe begin to raid all along the valley. The settlers must deal with the raiding Indians while also trying to survive. There is plenty here for fans of Henry Fonda also. The action scenes are excellent, especially the attack on the fort. However, it is also very effective when the characters talk about a battle and how horrible it was rather than the viewer actually seeing it. An enjoyable film that is still very good!
Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert play Gil and Lana Martin, the newlywed couple struggling to survive. Both are very good and believable as husband and wife. This was a good period for Fonda when he made The Grapes of Wrath around this time. There is an excellent supporting cast, most notably Ward Bond as Adam, Gil's friend and neighbor, Edna Mae Oliver as the widow Mrs. McLenard, who puts up Gil and Lana when their house is destroyed. She has some incredibly funny scenes especially when some marauding Indians invade her house, but she refuses to leave even as they drag her out on her bed. This is an excellent movie with a great cast and excellent story. Do not miss this Revolutionary War classic!
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Format:VHS Tape
"Drums Along the Mohawk" was one of many lavish classic productions released in 1939 and marked the first real venture by Director John Ford into classic movie status. This production is lavish in all departments from the lush colour photography which even in 1939 was still only employed on a handful of productions, to the beautiful on location photography utilised throughout the story, to the many exciting action filled sequences employed around which the storyline is structured.
"Drums Along the Mohawk" tells the rather simple story of Mohawk Valley farmer Gilbert Martin who courts and marries refined city bred Lana Magdalena (Claudette Colbert)and brings her back to the valley to begin a new life as a farmer's wife in the untamed American wilderness. What ensures is a story of hardship in the face of the unpredictable environment, attacks from Indians, the revolutinary war, and in carving out a new world and new way of life. Much of the story focuses on Claudette's characters efforts to adjust to this strange and foreign new environment and to make a home for her new husband and she succeeds admirably in the task. It has often been stated by critics that Claudette was far more suited to sophisticated urban comedies and always looked far too modern a screen personality to fit into period productions. While she certainly had no peer in that area she is highly effective in historical roles as witnessed by her great work in "Cleopatra" and "The Sign of the Cross". In "Mohawk" she displays all the fear and uncertainity of moving to a new land and leaving behind her all that is familiar.
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5.0 out of 5 stars MOHAWK VALLEY IN TECHNICOLOR Nov. 2 2001
Format:VHS Tape
DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK shows how the depredations of Indian warriors, guided by British tacticians,tempered ragged backwoods militia into a tough able army, united behind Washington and the new American flag. To find suitable Mohawk Valley scenery, director Ford took his company to a timbered Utah plateau. Morman farmers were happily recruited as extras and mild Navaho and Piute Indians were transmuted into fierce Iroquois tribesmen. To heighten the drama, historical sidelights are deleted from the novel by Walter D. Edmonds and Colbert is given more sophistication than the original Lana possessed. The popularity of Claudette Colbert (since her 1934 performance in IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT) rested largely on her charm and aptitude for deft, bubbling comedy roles. To an interviewer, she once mentioned that out of every six pictures, she would like to play four comedies, one drama and one spectacle. In DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK, Claudette has her chance at drama with a good many spectacular overtones. As Lana Martin, the city bred wife of a New York frontiersman, she enacts a difficult emotional part with extraordinary skill and sensitivity. Fine battle scenes, handsome Technicolor (Colbert's dresses are always lovely and clean and the Indian's blanket is as spotless as a cardinal's robe!) and superior performances by Miss Colbert, Henry Fonda and Edna May Oliver place this film in the category of classic U.S. historical films.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Relatively Early, Excellent John Ford Movie Aug. 31 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Relatively early, I say, because I think Ford really hit his stride in the 1940s once he started his John Wayne cavalry pictures.
"Drums Along the Mohawk" is a wonderful treatment of an era curiously left alone by most American movie studios, the Revolutionary War. Henry Fonda is a farmer on the Mohawk River in upstate NY, who brings home a "city" bride, Claudette Colbert. Much of the early part of the film is her adaptation to this backwoods life, so different from her father's home. Colbert's character is emblematic of the original settlers of the American continent, who left familiar ways behind them and set off into an adventure undreamed of. Bit by bit, her citified ways have to be jettisoned if she is to be a good wife to her honest and plain-speaking husband. Gradually their smaller domestic drama is engulfed in community concerns as the Revolutionary War whips up the warpath of the Indians surrounding the colonists, and they must fight for their very existence as that new concept, Americans.
There are some really pricless episodes in "Drums Along the Mohawk", such as when Fonda holds his newborn baby for the first time, Colbert goes into hysterics at her first encounter with an Indian, Edna May Oliver confronts Indian braves invading the sanctity of her home, and someone has to get word out of the beseiged fort to the soldiers for relief.
You'll be very glad to see "Drums Along the Mohawk", I assure you.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars He love old movie from this period
I bought this movie for my father. He love old movie from this period . the settlers and the Indians struggle to get along or not.
Published 1 month ago by Rosemary Gale
5.0 out of 5 stars great
Another great film from the passed, Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert are at their best. Great action. A must see for all
Published 4 months ago by Vicki Rigsby
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but not as good as I thought it would bhe
Read the book many years ago -Walter D. Edmonds was a great writer of American history novels. The movie was interesting for costumes, picturizations of early colonial life, and a... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Douglas MacKay
4.0 out of 5 stars Good history
Doing family history very informative as some of my ancestors are mentioned in the movie also a good film to watch.
Published 8 months ago by Evelyn Heppenstall
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
Loved this movie years ago - still a great movie! The storyline is very good. Claudette Colbert was great in "It happened one night" and in this movie too.
Published 12 months ago by Lulu
3.0 out of 5 stars History of the mohawk valley
Henry Fonda was miscast in this. He is too smooth and gentle to be a frontiers man of the time. Claudette Colbert was not right for the character but as the movie progressed she... Read more
Published 15 months ago by P B
3.0 out of 5 stars a little slow
I was expecting a real drama, but it was well done but not a fast action show at all, it ended the way I expected it to
Published 17 months ago by terry
4.0 out of 5 stars classic
this is a good, old fashioned western albeit generally overdone and begging the truth as most hollywood westerns of the day were done. All in all, well acted and well cast
Published on July 11 2012 by Michael B. Neuman
5.0 out of 5 stars "Drums Along The Mohawk (1939) ... Fonda/Colbert/Oliver ... John Ford...
20th Century Fox presents "DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK" (1939) ~ (104 min/Color) ~ Starring: Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert, Edna May Oliver, Eddie Collins, John Carradine, Jessie... Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2011 by J. Lovins
3.0 out of 5 stars Missing a special scene
This past fall, I met a former stunt woman by the name of Jackie Hamblin Rife in Kanab, Utah. She told me that "Drums Along the Mohawk" was her first movie. Read more
Published on April 23 2009 by James Nelson
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