Drums Along the Mohawk
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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!
Directed by John Ford
Gilbert and Lana Martin (Henry Fonda & Claudette Colbert) are a young couple trying to make a home in New York State's Mohawk Valley, but repeated attacks by Indians drive them, along with other settlers in the valley, into a nearby fort, where they watch helplessly as the natives lay waste to their farms and cabins. A spinster with a large farm, Sarah McKlennar (Edna May Oliver), comes to their rescue when she hires Gilbert to work as a field hand and gives the Martins a place to stay. The rugged life of the farm and frontier doesn't always sit well with Lana, who was raised in wealthy and comfortable circumstances - but in time she develops a thicker skin and learns to love their new life in the Mohawk Valley, especially after giving birth to their first son. Gilbert joins the militia, who must do battle both with the local Indian tribes and the British soldiers who are provoking them to battle. Gilbert returns wounded, and as he recuperates, a healthy crop rises in the fields, but their satisfaction is short lived when the Indians once again hit the warpath.
Oscar Nominations for Best Supporting Actress (Edna May Oliver) & Best Color Cinematography
1939 was a big year at the Academy Awards ceremony for director par-excellence John Ford, as he also garnered a nomination for Best Director for Stagecoach (1939)
1. John Ford [aka: John Martin Feeney] (Director)
Date of Birth: 1 February 1894, Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Date of Death: 31 August 1973, Palm Desert, California
2.Read more ›
"Drums Along the Mohawk" does not start off as a movie about the American Revolution. Instead it begins as a movie about settling the frontier, which, at that point, was upstate New York. The focus is on a pioneer couple, newlyweds, Gilbert (Henry Fonda) and Magdalena (Claudette Colbert), called Lana. Martin is a farmer who brings his bride to the Mohawk Valley where their home is burned out by Indians allied with the British. The couple are taken in by neighbors after that happens and Martin joins the militia, but the settlers are going to need more men than that to fight the Indians and save the fort from attack.
Based on a novel by Walter D. Edmonds the screenplay for "Drums Along the Mohawk" is by Sonya Levien and Lamar Trotti, although William Faulkner worked on it without receiving credit as well. Edmonds' history novels were all set in upstate New York and "Drums Along the Mohawk" is about the warfare between the settlers and the Six Nations of the Iroquois allied with the British.Read more ›
"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.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Great to see just what my family and my wife's family did back then.Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
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 22 months ago by Rosemary Gale
Another great film from the passed, Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert are at their best. Great action. A must see for allPublished on June 3 2014 by Vicki Rigsby
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 morePublished on Feb. 28 2014 by Douglas MacKay
Doing family history very informative as some of my ancestors are mentioned in the movie also a good film to watch.Published on Feb. 15 2014 by Evelyn Heppenstall
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 on Oct. 31 2013 by Lulu
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 morePublished on Aug. 4 2013 by P B
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