Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Drums Along the Mohawk (John Ford, 1939) D

The problem with Drums Along the Mohawk don't stem from John Ford's direction (which is adequate, if not especially inventive) or the lead performances from Henry Fonda (warm, but the same old same old) and Claudette Colbert (she tries, but everything lets her down). No, exception for occasional bursts of intelligence (the scene after the major battle where Fonda walks around looking for his wife and all you hear on the soundtrack is the crying of a baby; an amazing close-up of Claudette Colbert as she watches Fonda go off to war) Drums Along the Mohawk can't make up for an atrocious screenplay. The film consists of a wedding, a house burning, finding a new house, going off to battle, a birth and a major showdown with the dirty "Injuns" with no real connection between any of these scenes. Nothing the characters do advance the plot- everything bad that occurs to Fonda and Colbert just seems to "happen" to them and not because of the choices they make- and they don't grow at all as people. They remain one-dimensional stick figures from the beginning to the very end. Legendary character actress Edna May Oliver, who was brilliant in David Copperfield and should have won the Oscar for Pride and Prejudice, isn't given much "acting" to do either besides inject her usual no nonsense humor whenever she appears on screen.

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