by Jack Nilan            EMail :

Mohawk (1956)

Jack   D

IMDB    5.3

Tribe(s) : Mohawk, Tuscarora

Language : English



   This movie is about Jonathan Adams (Scott Brady who is Lawrence Tierney's brother), who goes out to the frontier to paint the Indians. Like the painter, the movie has beautiful colors. Everyone looks like they are dressed up for Halloween. Adams gets caught up in war between the local Indians and a greedy land developer, Butler.

In the first scene we hear:
Aunt Agatha: What are they? Wagon driver: Iroquois. Aunt Agatha: Are they friendly? Wagon driver: I don't call a poisonous snake my friend on account of he don't bite me.
Then we find out that there are two nations from the Iroquois confederacy around, the Mohawks and the Tuscarora. "The ones with the shaved heads is Mohawks, the long hairs is Tuscaroras".

Brady has his hand's full when his fiancee, Cynthia, arrives from Boston, to join his friend Greta the barmaid. Soon Brady adds Onida, the daughter of the Mohawk chief to his list of admirers.

Butler heads out to the Mohawk camp, and warns them that more settlers and muskets are coming. He wants to them to attack so that troops can be called in to wipe them out. The Mohawk Chief Kowanen thinks there is plenty of land, but the Tuscarora Rokhawah (Neville Brand in one of the worst Indian portrayals ever) wants trouble.

Kowanen's wife says:"The great spirit brought the Iroquois to the tree of peace and told us to listen to the eagle that sees afar. And the wise men told us we must bind ourselves together by holding each other's hands so strongly, nothing could break them apart. White man can not destroy us unless we forget the great laws and so destroy ourselves first."

In one of the worst scenes, the Indians sneak in to the fort, to steal rifles and hit the three guards over the head with hatchets and each one just goes down. No blood, no scream, nothing. Looks like a high school play. Brady hides Onida after the attack and then brings her back to camp. Rokhawah ends up slapping Onida and Brady quickly knocks out he knife wielding brave. Kowanen's son Keoga tells Rokhawah: "He who fills his mouth with big words ends by eating dirt."

Hiding in the woods Butler shoots and kills Keoga. Rokhawah tells Kowanen: "And you will talk for peace because your women own your mind, and a white man owns your daughter." But the Mohawks do decide to go to war. We then see some war dancing scenes and Onida frees Brady so he can go save the day.

We then finally see some really good scenes, but unfortunately they are clipped from 1939's Drums Along the Mohawk. We see Henry Fonda running with the Mohawks chasing him. Then we see the Mohawks burning the fields, and houses. I guess because they felt it had the work Mohawk in it they could use the clips.

Brady has Butler thrown outside the fort as the Indians attack and kill him. The Indians are fought off and then we see another scene from Drums Along the Mohawk, as troops come marching in. The Indians then attack and we flash back and forth between scenes from the two movies. Then the troops from Drums Along the Mohawk come rushing in. It was really bizarre. The producer must have had very little respect for the intelligence of his 1956 audience.

Awful dialogue, horrible action scenes and a bad story. A good white man gets the beautiful Indian princess. The bad white man gets killed. The bad Indian gets killed. This movie has all the bad things that the bad movies about Native Americans had. Maybe it can be classified as one of those movies that is so bad that it is good.

A great bad scene appropriately closes the movie:
Brady: "Why are you closing your eye?"
Onida: "I'm waiting to be kissed"
Brady: "In front of all these people?"
Onida: "Theres some things worth learning from the white man."