7 Year Tea Party Winners: Susan Craft's winner of her trilogy novels - The Chamomile, Laurel, and Cassia is: Lucy Reynolds, The winner of a copy of The Backcountry Brides is: Tammy Cordery, the winner of a silver quill charm is: Kathy Maher, Choice of one of three books by Carrie Fancett Pagels in paperback: Joy Ellis, A Bouquet of Brides Collection by Pegg Thomas winner is: Becky Smith, Janet Grunst's Selah-Award winning novel, A Heart Set Free, is: Sherry Moe.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Drums Along the Mohawk, Reviewed by Pat Iacuzzi

Drums Along the Mohawk DVD Cover

Drums Along the Mohawk

            Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck—20th Century Fox 1939
            Director: John Ford
            Stars: Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert

For the next few months, I’d like to review movies based on historical eighteenth century colonial settings. One of the reasons I’ve chosen these films is that many of us (including myself!) have used them as a quick alternative for researching information on the period. I’ve found this could be a major mistake—and while we may find these stories entertaining, I strongly advise you to investigate the facts of certain historical events and characters through well-researched non-fictional works. Another reason I’ve chosen to review this film genre is because there are so few American historicals made in Hollywood today.
            Drums Along the Mohawk is a favorite of mine because I read the book, a work of fiction, by Walter D. Edmonds in middle school. Based on a major event in the valley (where I grew up) I was well-acquainted with locations and descendents of people mentioned in the book, like Schuyler, Petrie, Bellinger, and Helmer, to name a few. So I felt an instant connection with the story.
            Newly-weds Gil (Fonda) and Lana (Colbert) Martin move out to the rich and fertile land of  Mohawk Valley frontier, a “breadbasket” of the colonies, to build a home and begin their new life.
            Most of this story revolves around the couple as they try to establish a family and home while confronted by danger and unrest caused by Tories (British sympathizers) and their Iroquois Indian allies. Under the threat of constant attack, Gil and Lana and other settlers must survive by escaping to Fort Herkimer in German Flatts.
            A crisis arises when the men of the settlement are forced to  defend their homes against St. Leger’s army coming from the west. The colonists meet the British forces and Indians at Oriskany Creek, on August 6, 1777. Though the patriots, led by General Nicholas Herkimer, lose nearly eight hundred men, the largest loss in the American Revolution, they do win the battle, driving St. Leger back toward Canada. Herkimer, correctly portrayed in the film, is wounded and soon dies.
Another incident occurs when Gil Martin makes a run to save his wife and other settlers trapped in Fort Herkimer and low on ammunition. He is chased by a fleet-footed Mohawk scouting party, but manages to out-run them, arriving at Fort Dayton in time to get help and save the settlers.
This is another true incident, but the actual run was made by Adam Helmer, in September of 1778. He ran thirty miles ahead of an Iroquois and Tory raiding party led by Chief Joseph Brant, to warn the people of the valley to take shelter at Fort Dayton. Though Edmonds stayed true to the actual event, the character was changed for the movie version.      

My rating for this movie: 4 out of 5 stars. Enjoyable, “clean”, and for the most part well done as far as story line goes. Acting is good; strongly “patriotic” considering problems with Germany and looming World War.

GIVEAWAY: Carrie will be giving away a gently used copy of the DVD to a person who responds to this post PLUS attends the CQ Tea Party on Friday.

Have you ever seen this movie?  What did you think?

By: Pat Iacuzzi


  1. I LOVE this movie! Thank you for reviewing it since many people don't know it. Seems more realistic depicting the hardships of living on the frontier than more recent movies. Could we do that today?

  2. I don't recall seeing the movie but I am pretty sure I've read the book. Would love to watch this movie..
    dkstevensne (at) outlook (dot) com


  4. I first saw this movie in high school (I think) as preparation for a school trip. I now have the VCR. I like Claudette Colbert's acting. One thing that stands out in my memory is the feather. Peacock? Every woman should have something so pretty.

  5. I first saw this movie in high school (I think) as preparation for a school trip. I now have the VCR. I like Claudette Colbert's acting. One thing that stands out in my memory is the feather. Peacock? Every woman should have something so pretty.
    I view movies now for writing ideas, but you're right. You have to be very careful about facts and drama.

  6. Hi Carrie,

    I do not think I've ever seen this movie. Surprises me as I love all things colonial and frontier. I really enjoyed The Patriot and The Last of the Mohicans. I like to look carefully at the details. One should never try to shortcut the research process. It can wind up costing dearly. I do like the visual aspect of movies, but you just have to review your facts to make sure they are accurate. You have a good point!


    1. Pat is still without computer access, Mary. I hadn't seen the movie either. Love those other two movies, as well. I agree with you about the research. I think you were at the party. Let me go see!

  7. Pat, I have this movie and look at it every once in a while. I particularly enjoy Edna May Oliver's portrayal of Mrs. McKlennar. What a character! I think people need to see the hardships our forbearers endured to build this country. The ones who survived were a hardy bunch. Thank you for this interesting post. I'm looking forward to hearing about movies I may not be familiar with.


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