HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
Shinsengumi
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Arena
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Spear
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Streetwalkin'
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Hustlers
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Ma
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Marriage Story
Santa Claus is a Bastard
Star, The
Tom & Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale
Shadow
Christmas Carol, A
Legend of the Demon Cat
Adventures of Sinbad, The
Wounds
Love & Peace
   
 
Newest Articles
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
   
 
  Drums Along the Mohawk life on the frontierBuy this film here.
Year: 1939
Director: John Ford
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Henry Fonda, Edna May Oliver, John Carradine, Ward Bond, Roger Imhof, Arthur Shields, Chief John Big Tree, Francis Ford, Jessie Ralph, Robert Lowery, Kay Linaker, Russell Simpson, Spencer Charters, Wayne Victor Frank
Genre: Western, Drama, Romance, Historical, Adventure
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: On the eve of the American War for Independence in 1776, Lana Borst (Claudette Colbert) marries Gilbert Martin (Henry Fonda) and leaves her luxurious home in Albany, New York for his small farm in Deerfield on the western frontier of Mohawk Valley in central New York. The well-bred rich girl initially has trouble adjusting to frontier life, not least being startled by scary-but-friendly Indian brave Blue Back (Chief John Big Tree), but eventually settles comfortably into tending the farm alongside her husband and neighbours. However, rabble-rousing Tory, Caldwell (John Carradine) orchestrates an Indian attack upon the colonial farms, burning the Martins place to the ground, while Lana suffers a miscarriage. With no home and winter approaching, the young couple accept work on the farm belonging to wealthy widow Mrs. McKlennar (Edna May Oliver). Through their hard work and perseverance the community starts to prosper again, but Caldwell and his Indians lurk on the horizon…

Somewhat overlooked by fans, Drums Along the Mohawk is one of the most accomplished works by the great John Ford and certainly among the finest films about colonial times. For all its grit and gunpowder, one could easily call it a “woman’s picture”, since top-billed Claudette Colbert is essentially the focal point. Ford uses her gradual transformation from prim and prissy society belle into a gently stoic pioneer heroine as an extended metaphor for the resilience of the American frontiersmen. Which is not to sell short the contributions of the marvellous Henry Fonda - an actor who almost radiates decency and stoicism in his youth - nor Edna May Oliver, who arguably steals the show as the gutsy, sharp-tongued widow with a heart as big as all outdoors. Her sudden bedroom encounter with two drunk Indian braves deftly illustrates Ford’s skill as he tweaks the scene from horrific to comedic and back again without missing a beat.

Despite the rosy glow of Bert Glennon’s cinematography, this is a film that delves into the toil, mud and back-breaking work that tamed the American west, an unflinching look at the sufferings endured, although leavened with humour, romance and adventure. It’s shockingly brutal at times, especially throughout the Indian attacks when sharp editing clips blink-and-you’ll-miss-it instances of child death, possible rape and likeable characters meeting disturbingly violent ends. As often with Ford, the wild landscape becomes something that must be endured and yet defines the American character, enabling us a greater understanding of why history shaped the way it did. At this stage in Ford’s development, Indians were the living embodiment of that frightening and untamed landscape, even though he uses the alternately worldly-wise and childlike Blue Back to inject some wry humour.

Ford is firmly on the side of the colonial families, yet not blind to their faults. They are sometimes naïve, pernickety and can exhibit more bravery than sense, although women remain the more pragmatic in spite of the occasional gossip-monger or jealousies. Reverend Rosencrantz (Arthur Shields) uses his pulpit to spread gossip and advertise local businesses, while the army too readily leaves these farmers to fend for themselves. Yet Ford embraces all, regardless of human foibles. His is an admirably inclusive vision of America for its time, notably the closing sequence wherein, as the American flag is hoisted, Ford cuts from men to women, black to white, Native American to colonial. Nary a word is spoken, yet this sequence is considerably more eloquent than all the achingly sincere speechifying in Revolution (1985) or The Patriot (2000).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3387 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: