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 l... more »ater. 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.« less
Joseph F. M. (joe424) from HICKSVILLE, NY Reviewed on 1/28/2011...
They don`t make them like this anymore. No sex, no nudity a movie that the whole family can enjoy. Great stars, good story. A little bit of history of New York in the years before the Revolutionary War.
Still the best movie about the American Revolution ever made
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 07/04/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"There are relatively few movies about the American Revolution. I think this is due to the fact that the American side lost most of the battles of that war. The battle at Saratoga, the surprise attack at Trenton, and the siege of Yorktown are part of the short list of American victories, and except for the occasion television movie or mini-series, they are rarely touched upon. Consequently, "Drums Along the Mohawk" remains the best of American movie about the revolution even though it was made before World War I and even though the redcoats are not really involved in the fight."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. The Battle of Oriskany in 1777, fought in a forest, was a American victory although their commander General Nicholas Herkimer (Ralph Imhof) died of his wounds in one of the moving scenes of the film. This was the third film that John Ford made in 1939, following "Stagecoach" with John Wayne and "Young Mr. Lincoln" with Fonda; his next film would be "The Grapes of Wrath." Colbert and Fonda are the stars, but they are upstaged by several members of the supporting case, such as Edna May Oliver as Mrs. McKlennar and Arthur Shields as the Reverend Rosenkrantz. The old lady has such an iron will that she can make Indians take her bed out, with her in it, while they are burning down her home, and the reverend has a memorable scene in which he eases the suffering of a tortured settler. Fonda is young and earnest, while Colbert comes to terms with what it means to be living on the American frontier in troubled times. More than anything else "Drums Along the Mohwawk" is about people coming to the realization that they are Americans, an interpretation more than amply justified by the film's final scene. These are not the Sons of Liberty living in Boston and dealing with the King's troops and all those burdensome taxes. These are small families living out on the frontier for whom the idea of the United States of America was as odd as a flag with thirteen red and white stripes with a circle of white stars on a blue field. Perhaps it is because it takes place off the main stage that "Drums Along the Mohawk" manages to hit the right notes."
A Revolutionary War classic
T O'Brien | Chicago, Il United States | 06/26/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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!"
John Ford and the American Revolution
Scott T. Rivers | Los Angeles, CA USA | 03/28/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Based on Walter D. Edmonds' historical novel, "Drums Along the Mohawk" (1939) remains among the few memorable films about the American Revolution. Director John Ford's first Technicolor production benefits immeasurably from the Oscar-nominated cinematography of Bert Glennon and Ray Rennahan. Though episodic and slow moving in its narrative structure, Ford doesn't shy away from the brutal savagery of frontier life. Henry Fonda and Edna May Oliver deliver standout portrayals, thus compensating for a miscast Claudette Colbert - the weak link in an otherwise excellent ensemble. Not top-drawer Ford, but entertaining nonetheless."
HISTORICAL ADVENTURE COMES TO LIFE
Steamboater | 03/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Apple-cheeked Claubert and tall and gangly Fonda are so young, they're a pleasure to watch. All performances, including Ward Bond and Edna May Oliver, are exceptional and the color is amazing. "Drums Along The Mohawk" is an epic of the frontier that you'll want to watch again and again. Although the film takes place in upper New York State, viewing the terrain, it was probably shot in northern California. No matter. The film begins with hope alive and better things to come yet is dashed by the realities of the frontier and war. Battle scenes between indians and settlers can be a little frightening so I'd recommend that if you're going to let small children see this, an adult should sit with the child. A perfect film."
Lavish colour production from Hollywood's Golden Age
Simon Davis | 06/19/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""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. While her makeup and pristine outfits throughout tells us this is indeed a Hollywood production I believe it is one of her more appealing performances combining equal measures of doubt about what she has done moving to the wilderness, to a longing to build a happy life with her husband. Henry Fonda an actor who I normally find fairly bland and unexciting on screen performs very well in this production playing the role of Gilbert who works like ten men to clear his property, often under very trying circumstances, and set up a workable farm with which to support his family.Claudette Colbert by 1939 was at the peak of her popularity and success and that same year turned out what I feel was her greatest film performance in the classic "Midnight". At the time of release of this film Henry Fonda was also enjoying a triumph in "Jesse James" with Tyrone Power so it was easy to see why this film was also a great success upon release. As with most Epic productions of this type the supporting cast adds greatly to the overraul impact of a film and "Drums Along the Mohawk" had two of the best in Edna May Oliver and John Carradine. Oliver a superb character actress had the important role of Mrs. McKlennar and the character embodies all the standard qualities that she always brought to her film roles, a no nonsense flinty character with a deep down heart of Gold. Her big scene where her home is invaded by rampaging Indians is a delight to witness as she almost bosses them out of destroying her home! John Carradine a regular performer in these Fox productions is also effective in the devious role of Caldwell who is out to further his own ends no matter what it takes.The beautifully staged action sequences of this film are terrific and really add to the excitement of the piece. The attack on the fort and the destruction of the farmers properties are two of the highlights and are staged to the maximum effect that only John Ford could bring to such things.Overraul "Drums Along the Mohawk" is an engrossing piece of cinema both from its more personal representations of settlers moving into a hostile land and making a new life, to the standard excitement of the action western type of film complete with Indians, besieged forts and spectacular scenery. In all these respects "Drums Along the Mohawk will not fail to both impress and entertain."