EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|LAST OF THE MOHICANS, THE (directors: Maurice Tourneur/Clarence Brown; screenwriters: Robert Dillon/from the novel by James Fenimore Cooper; cinematographers: Charles Van Enger/Philip R. Dubois; music: Arthur Kaye/R.J. Miller; cast: Wallace Berry (Magua), Albert Roscoe (Uncas), Henry Woodward (Major Heyward), Lillian Hall (Alice Munro), Barbara Bedford (Cora Munro), Harry Lorraine (Hawkeye, a scout), Tod Lorch (Chingachgook), James Gordon (Col. Munro), George Hackathorne (Captain Randolph), Nelson McDowell (Preacher David Gamut); Runtime: 76; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Maurice Tourneur; Milestone Films; 1920-silent)|
|"This 1920 silent is the most
faithful of the other American adaptations (1932, 1936 & 1992) of the novel
by James Fenimore Cooper."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This 1920 silent is the most
faithful of the other American adaptations (1932, 1936 & 1990) of
the novel by James Fenimore Cooper. The historical drama left the
whites of New England hateful of the Indians for slaughtering a British
fort that had women and children, and it influenced the savage way
Hollywood treated Indians until that changed in modern times. It's
written by Robert Dillon and codirected by Maurice Tourneur and
Clarence Brown, as Brown took over when Tourneur became too
incapacitated during the shoot to finish.
In the summer of 1757, during the French and
Indian War, at Fort Edward, along the Hudson River, the teenager Cora (Barbara Bedford) and her
younger sister Alice (Lillian
the cultured daughters of the British
Colonel Munro (James
Gordon), the commander of the nearby Fort William
entertaining the troops with harp music and dance. The womanizing Captain Randolph (George Hackathorne) has his eyes on Cora, but she shows
little interest in him. Uncas (Albert Roscoe), a friendly to the palefaces Mohican, the
titled character, brings word that the French under Montcalm, in league
with the Indians, is mounting an attack on Fort Edward. The fort is
abandoned and the Munro sisters are guided back to Fort Henry by the
Huron runner called Magua (Wallace
route, through an Indian short-cut, they meet Uncas (Albert Roscoe),
his father Chingachgook (Tod Lorch) and the white scout Hawkeye (Harry Lorraine). Fearing the worst, after
Magua abandons them, they hide in a cave at Glenns Falls. But are soon
hunted down by Magua and his Huron friends. After the girls are
captured and Magua wants to make Cora his squaw and threatens to kill
Alice if not obeyed, Uncas frees the girls and they return to Fort
Henry. With Montcalm planning to attack Fort Henry, the cowardly
traitor Capt. Randolph, his ego hurt that Cora rebuffed him and that
she makes eyes on the "savage" Uncas, reports to Montcalm that the guns
on the left rampart at his fort are useless. This causes Munro to
surrender to the French, who give their word that the women and
children won't be harmed. But that evening the whites sell liquor to
the Hurons and Magua instigates the drunken warriors to go against
their chiefs and attack the ones at the fort who surrendered. It
results in a massacre. Magua
takes Cora and Alice as prisoners, and hopes to have Cora as his squaw.
But while Magua stops off at the friendly Delaware camp with the girls,
Uncas also goes there and pleads his case for the evil Magua to let the
girls go. The Delaware chief decides to let Cora free, but allows Magua
to take Alice as his squaw. The hysterical Cora gets Magua to let her
take her sister's place, while according to the Delaware command it is
not until the next dawn can Uncas try and free the captive. Which he
tries to do atop a cliff, but is too late as Magua causes Cora to fall
off the cliff and then kills Uncas in a knife fight. Hawkeye then
brings Magua down with his shotgun.
It's an exciting tale, pointing out that
there are good Indians and bad Indians, that some whites were bigots
and others not, and that war is hell.
REVIEWED ON 5/26/2010 GRADE: B+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ