Drums Along the Mohawk (Ford, 1939)

Drums Along the Mohawk (John Ford, 1939)

Drums Along the Mohawk is not one of Ford’s best, but still nothing to be ashamed of. The film follows a young newlywed couple as they settle west, and attempt to start a farm of their own. When the film focuses on the couple and community they belong to, it is excellent. However, the film features a rather black and white, good guys versus bad guys storyline (and, of course, the Indians are the bad guys), which is probably the film’s biggest weakness. All the characters we get to know are rather saintly, and all the ones attacking them are ‘savages’. I guess I expected better from Ford. If nothing else, though, it provides the only conflict the film has since all the members of the community get along perfectly. So I guess the good guys/bad guys aspect is sort of a necessary evil.

The film won an Oscar for Best Cinematography back in 1939, and for good reason. Not only is the setting beautiful, but the way it’s captured on film is also magnificent. Many scenes were filmed at or just after sunset and the colors are gorgeous. There is a chase scene towards the end of the film that is great (though an overbearing score kind of distracts from it; no music at all during the scene would have been nice). All in all, kind of a mixed bag.  7.25/10


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