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Drums Along the Mohawk

Drums Along the Mohawk

3.7 4
Director: John Ford, Claudette Colbert, Henry Fonda, Edna May Oliver

Cast: John Ford, Claudette Colbert, Henry Fonda, Edna May Oliver


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John Ford directed this outdoor adventure set in the American Colonial period. Gilbert and Lana Martin (Henry Fonda and 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


John Ford directed this outdoor adventure set in the American Colonial period. Gilbert and Lana Martin (Henry Fonda and 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; 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. 1939 was a stellar year for John Ford; along with this highly successful adventure tale, which was nominated for three Academy Awards, Ford also released the ground-breaking western Stagecoach.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Based on a bestselling (but, alas, totally forgotten) novel by Walter D. Edmonds, this historical drama of Colonial America has an epic feel thanks to the sweep of its narrative and the opulent production, including glorious cinematography employing the old Technicolor process. The story of pioneering farmers in New York’s Mohawk Valley during the Revolutionary War, Drums stars Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert as a newly married couple determined to build a home and family despite the dangers posed by nature’s hardships, hostile Indians, and British agitators. When their first house is burned, the young couple finds refuge with other settlers, and a militia springs up to meet the challenge of marauding Indians in league with Tory loyalists. Director John Ford (The Grapes of Wrath) seamlessly blends romance, adventure, and comedy in this expertly made spectacular, which ranked among 1939’s top-grossing movies. In addition to Fonda and Colbert it features many members of the legendary filmmaker’s “stock company,” including John Carradine, Ward Bond, Arthur Shields, and Russell Simpson. Adding immeasurable value to the proceedings is veteran character actress Edna May Oliver; playing yet another horse-faced spinster, she steals practically every scene she’s in. Stirring and evocative, Drums Along the Mohawk brings a fascinating period of American history to vibrantly colorful life.
All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
The first of many collaborations between director John Ford and Henry Fonda, this fine, typically Fordian vision of community life also features the director's first use of the then recently developed Technicolor process. A visually appealing slice of Americana, the film places a youthful, yet stoic Fonda in a series of iconic poses as he and his new wife, an incongruously soigné Claudette Colbert struggle to maintain their farm during the outbreak of the Revolutionary War in the Indian-infested Mohawk Valley. As the farmers fight off Indian attacks, with the well-born Colbert learning to adapt to a difficult new environment, the director links self-sacrifice with heroism. As with much of Ford, the characters' behavior is concerned with the enactment of rituals and the display of pageantry, and the main characters, essentially types. He's more willing to allow the character actors, like Oscar-nominated Edna May Oliver, who plays a feisty widow, to indulge in some theatrics. Despite the hardships the farmers must endure, the film's bright look signals an optimism characteristic of the director during this period, perhaps addressing his Depression-era audience about the grit and cohesiveness required to survive in difficult times.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
Region Code:

Special Features

Closed Caption; [None specified]

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Claudette Colbert Lana Borst Martin
Henry Fonda Gilbert Martin
Edna May Oliver Mrs. Sarah McKlennar
Eddie Collins Christian Reall
Arthur Shields Father Rosenkranz,Reverend Rosenkrantz
Ward Bond Adam Hartman,Adam Helmer
John Carradine Caldwell
Dorris Bowdon Mary Reall
Jessie Ralph Mrs. Weaver
Robert Lowery John Weaver
Roger Imhof General Nicholas Herkimer
Francis Ford Joe Boleo
Kay Linaker Mrs. DeMooth
Russell Simpson Dr. Petry
Spencer Charters Innkeeper,Landlord
Arthur Aylesworth George Weaver
Clara Blandick Mrs. Borst
Robert Greig Mr. Borst
Si Jenks Jacob Small
Noble Johnson Indian
Tiny Jones Mrs. Reall
Beulah Hall Jones Daisy
Mae Marsh Pioneer Woman
Edwin Maxwell Rev. Daniel Gros
Paul McVey Capt. Mark DeMooth
Lionel Pape General
Jack Pennick Amos Hartman
Charles Tannen Dr. Robert Johnson
Chief John Big Tree Blue Back
Tom Tyler Capt. Morgan
Clarence H. Wilson Paymaster

Technical Credits
John Ford Director
Richard Day Art Director
Bert Glennon Cinematographer
Raymond Griffith Producer
Mark-Lee Kirk Art Director
Sonya Levien Screenwriter
Thomas K. Little Set Decoration/Design
Alfred Newman Score Composer
Robert Parrish Editor
Ray Rennahan Cinematographer
Robert L. Simpson Editor
Lamar Trotti Screenwriter
Gwen Wakeling Costumes/Costume Designer
Darryl F. Zanuck Executive Producer
William Faulkner Source Author

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Titles [:12]
2. Wedding Day [:59]
3. Politics [3:08]
4. Frontier Life [3:55]
5. Harvest Time [:19]
6. German Flats [8:00]
7. Clearing the Land [1:56]
8. Skirmish [6:13]
9. Hired Help [3:52]
10. Call to Arms [4:16]
11. Drums Along the Mohawk [3:11]
12. After the Battle [4:51]
13. The Price of Victory [2:14]
14. Casualty of War [3:07]
15. New Life [2:25]
16. Lana's Prayer [2:32]
17. Sarah's Bed [3:29]
18. War Prayer [:56]
19. Under Attack [5:44]
20. Captured [1:57]
21. Going for Help [1:02]
22. Bravery [6:24]
23. Stars and Stripes [:48]
24. End Titles [2:19]

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Drums Along the Mohawk 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I first saw this movie when I was only 5 years old and have loved it ever since. I don't usually like movies made before 1990, but Drums Along the Mohawk is a HUGE exception. I can sit and watch this movie over and over again. "Drums" is never a drag from begining to end. Henry Fonda and Cladette Colbert do a great job in this movie. I personally love the part when Gilbert Martin (Gill) makes the run to the other fort to get more ammunition. The music is also exciting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Romance with just the right amount of reality, his masculine ego, her desire to make a home, coupled with frontier hardships and how distant wars can touch home. Good writing, great plot, superb acting. It's worth your time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Personally, me and may of my fellow classmates at Florida University ((Go Gators)) did not think that this book appealed to us at all what so ever. There is a fine line with just enough and too much details. That book deffinitely crosses over to the "too much" side. The story line is kind of bland, not exactly the best. I could have had more fun eating a lightbulb instead.