Drums Along the Mohawk
|Drums Along the Mohawk|
DVD release cover
|Directed by||John Ford|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck (executive producer)|
Walter D. Edmonds
Edna May Oliver
|Music by||Alfred Newman|
|Editing by||Robert L. Simpson|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release date(s)||November 3, 1939|
|Running time||103 minutes|
|Budget||over $2 million|
Drums Along the Mohawk is a 1939 historical Technicolor film based upon a 1936 novel of the same name by American author, Walter D. Edmonds. The film was produced by Darryl F. Zanuck and directed by John Ford. Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert portray settlers on the New York frontier during the American Revolution. The couple suffer British, Tory, and Indian attacks on their farm before the Revolution ends and peace is restored. The film—Ford's first color feature—was well received, was nominated for two Academy Awards and became a major box office success, grossing over US$1 million in its first year. This was also the first time Claudette Colbert would be filmed in color. While filming Claudette Colbert had actually worried she might have not looked as good in color as she did in black and white.
In 1776, American colonists Gilbert Martin (Henry Fonda) and Lana Borst (Claudette Colbert) marry and leave her luxurious home in Albany, New York for a small farm in Deerfield on the western frontier of the Mohawk Valley in central New York. Lana has difficulty in adjusting to frontier life, but soon is working alongside her husband.
The American Revolution begins. Lana is pregnant and miscarries when the Martin farm is burned to the ground in an Indian attack led by a Tory, Caldwell (John Carradine). With no home and winter approaching, the Martins accept work on the farm of wealthy widow Mrs. McKlennar (Edna May Oliver).
Life returns to peaceful normality; Mrs. McKlennar and the Martins prosper. However, an attack by Tories and Indians threatens the valley, and the militia is called up. Ill-equipped and poorly trained, the settlers barely manage to defeat the enemy at Oriskany. Gil returns home wounded and delirious. Lana is again pregnant, and while Gil recovers from his wounds, she gives birth to their son.
The Tories and Mohawks attack German Flatts, and the settlers take refuge in Fort Herkimer. Mrs. McKlennar is mortally wounded, and ammunition runs short. Gil makes a dash through enemy lines to secure help from nearby Fort Dayton. As the Indians scale the walls of the fort, reinforcements arrive from Fort Dayton. The Indians are overwhelmed. After the battle, the settlers learn the revolution has ended, and the American flag is unfurled above the fort.
- Henry Fonda as Gilbert "Gil" Martin
- Claudette Colbert as Magdelana "Lana" Martin
- Edna May Oliver as Mrs. McKlennar
- John Carradine as Caldwell
- Ward Bond as Adam Hartman
- Roger Imhof as Gen. Nicholas Herkimer
- Arthur Shields as Rev. Rosenkrantz
- Chief John Big Tree as Blue Back
- Francis Ford as Joe Boleo
- Jessie Ralph as Mrs. Weaver
- Robert Lowery as John Weaver
- Kay Linaker as Mrs. Demooth
- Russell Simpson as Dr. Petry
- Spencer Charters as Innkeeper
Critical reception 
Frank S. Nugent reviewed the film for the New York Times of November 4, 1939 and wrote, "Walter D. Edmonds's exciting novel of the Mohawk Valley during the American Revolution has come to the...screen in a considerably elided, but still basically faithful, film edition bearing the trademark of Director John Ford...It is romantic enough for any adventure-story lover. It has its humor, its sentiment, its full complement of blood and thunder...a first-rate historical film, as rich atmospherically as it is in action...Mr. Fonda and Miss Colbert have done rather nicely with the Gil and Lana Martin...Miss Oliver could not have been bettered as the warlike Widow McKlennar...Mr. Shields's Rev. Rosenkrantz...Mr. Imhof's General Herkimer, Mr. Collins's Christian Reall, Spencer Charters's landlord, Ward Bond's Adam Helmer...They've matched the background excellently, all of them."
Academy Award nominations 
- 52 FEATURE FILMS ON FOX '39-40 LIST: Five Will Cost $2,000,000 Each--Zanuck to Supervise 24 Large Productions 'THE RAINS CAME' ON BILL 'Drums Along Mohawk,' 'Little Old New York,' 'Brigham Young' Scheduled Edmonds's Story in Color Elsa Maxwell Featured New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 Apr 1939: 29.
- In reality, Forts Herkimer and Dayton were within sight of each other on opposite sides of the Mohawk River. The attack in the film combines two scenes from the novel: an early raid involving a small settlement fort near Deerfield, and a passing mention of a brief 1782 siege of Fort Dayton very late in the novel.
- Frank S. Nugent (2009-11-04). "John Ford's Film of 'Drums Along the Mohawk' Opens at the Roxy". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-28.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Drums Along the Mohawk (film)|
- Drums Along the Mohawk at the Internet Movie Database
- Drums Along the Mohawk at the TCM Movie Database
- Drums Along the Mohawk at AllRovi