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That's so you can tell the two tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy apart
in this colonial travesty. And that line of explanation is actually in
the film Mohawk.
The Tuscaroras are currently house guests of the Mohawks having moved up from the south do to white settlement on their hunting grounds. They've got an understandable attitude as expressed by their chief Neville Brand who wants war with the whites and the Mohawks as allies. But the Mohawk Chief Ted DeCorsia hasn't had any problems with them and he's reluctant to join.
But DeCorsia might not have a choice because a man named Butler played by John Hoyt wants to start a nice little war. It seems as though his family once was the only white folks in the whole Mohawk Valley and he wants it that way again. He stirs up the Indians by first giving them weapons and then shooting Tommy Cook who is DeCorsia's son. That way when everybody kills everybody off, this dill-weed will have the whole valley to himself once again.
Our hero in this piece is a painter, Scott Brady who is romancing three different women of differing hair color, probably deliberate cast that way by the producer. There's his blond fiancé from Boston Lori Nelson, the blacksmith Rhys Williams's daughter Allison Hayes, and a fiery brunette Indian princess Rita Gam. If you care to see the film, you'll find out who he winds up with.
By the way John Hoyt's character is not in any way the same as Walter Butler who was a Tory in the American Revolution and responsible for leading the Indians in the famous Cherry Valley Massacre. He was one of the jury in The Devil and Daniel Webster and he's also portrayed in D.W. Griffith's film, Revolution by Lionel Barrymore. I thought when I heard Hoyt's name in the film that I would see some of that story in this film, but it was a tease.
The only thing really to recommend Mohawk is a nicely staged battle scene when the Indians attack the stockade. The same one used by John Ford for Drums Along the Mohawk, an infinitely better film.
The cast can barely keep straight faces throughout this film. When Mohawk wrapped they should have burned the film and roasted a turkey over it in the true spirit of Thanksgiving.
Kurt Neumann gets screen credit for directing Mohawk, but I'd estimate that about one third of the film was shot by John Ford. Not that Pappy was around at all while this abysmal excuse for a B eastern/western was made, mind you. A little more than fifteen years earlier, he had directed a film on the same subject, the majestic Drums Along the Mohawk, for 20th Century Fox, with Henry Fonda in the lead. Somehow, some way, the producers of Mohawk got the rights to use the magnificent action scenes - attack on a frontier fort, a lone man running through the woods to get reinforcements while pursued by three Indians - within the context of their cheapo-cheapo production, which essentially is to westerns what Robot Monster is to sci-fi: As awful as it is, if you catch it in the right mood, you may find it to be so bad that it's entertaining. The plot, totally anachronistic as compared to Ford's ultra-authenticity, has Scott Brady (later Shotgun Slade on TV) as a loverboy (though a solid actor, he wasn't cut out for such a part). He's a painter who talks gorgeous Hollywood starlets (er . . . make them frontier lasses) into taking off most of their clothes for one of his portraits. Lori Nelson (pert blonde), Allison Hayes (star of The Fifty Foot Woman - the original, that is), and Rita Gam (as a Mohawk babe) all fall for him, and his character has more in common with Hugh Hefner than Henry Fonda in Ford's film. The point is, most of Mohawk was shot on a studio set in about three days, with a frontier fort that is mostly a big painting the actors stand in front of. Then someone screams something on the order of "The Mohawks are coming!" and, whoooosh - we cut to stock footage from Ford's film that is on a grand scale. The entire chase of Fonda is included, only when it comes time for a close-up, there is Brady's face instead of Hank's. It's that kind of a movie. Remember, you were warned.
Let me just say that I did not expect much from this film when I popped it into the DVD player. It is on a 4 movie set from Platinum Great Westerns Vol 8. that I paid only $4.00. Well, they must of remastered this one, quality is excellent. Almost looks like a 3D color movie at times. The flick itself...pretty good not a western at all though. Set out east in 1790 with the blue coats and settlers invading upon the Indian's habitat. Commissioned Boston artist Scott Brady frolicking with 3 beautiful women, fiancee Lori Nelson, bar maid Alison Hayes, and Indian princess Rita Gamm. Sinister demented land owner John Hoyt plays the white skins against the red skins so both wipe each other out and the valley will be all his. Crazed Mohawk Neville Brand doing frenzied war dances, only makes matters worse. Ends with exciting attack on the fort, bad guy gets his in spades, and Brady picking the right gal for marriage. The movie is no deep drama by any means, but it moves very quickly, nice to look at in a 1950's avante garde way, some (not all) of the outdoor sets are really on a studio sound stage so there are paintings as backdrops that are VERY obvious. Fun movie though to enjoy for what it is.
Kurt Neumann directed "Mohawk" with unusual skill, and the cast of this amazingly entertaining adventure-drama is far above the usual B-film independent acting ensemble of amy era. The storyline is also quite clearly developed and an interesting historical treatment. In the film's first eight minutes, we meet and care about a dozen characters and set up a strong confrontation between the Mohawk tribe led by T4ed de Corsia and Mae Clarke and the soldiers and settler at Fort Alden, led by John Hudson and the villain of the piece, John Hoyt. Besides these fine actors, the film features Vera Vague, Lori Nelson, Neville Brand, Tommy Cook, Allison Hayes, Rhys Williams and Harry Swoger, plus Rita Gam and Scott Brady as the leads. Its literate script abounds in interesting scenes; the outdoor scenes work well. Gam and de Corsia seem perfect for their parts, giving their speeches expressing the Amerind point of view unusual intensity. Many reviewers liked this film, using terms such as lively, interesting and memorable to describe it. There are small glitches in production, and the movie needed a bigger budget. But I have seen it in B/W, color, English and Spanish; and I can recommend it to those who enjoy Grecianzed Near-Easterns and literate sci-fi and detective films for the same qualities those genres possess--it's about as far from anti-individualist mean-streets naturalism populated by debased postmodernist or character-flawed ugly types as one can get--which is why we go to movies. Its realism is heightened by considerable artistry; the battle scenes are epic; and its psychology works very well on several levels of meaning. A credit to all concerned.
This hokum film set during pre-Revolutionary War deals with a painter
named Jonathan Adams (Scott Brady), tangling with diverse dames as he
paints wonderful outdoor scenes and beautiful women . He is away from
Boston so long that his fiancée , Cynthia Stanhope (Lori Nelson), along
with her Aunt Agatha (Barbara Allen), newly arrive from the east to
Fort Alden ( 1778, Otsego County, Cherry Valley, the Fort existed and
was destroyed in French and Indian War) seeking him . Cynthia finds him
juggling the gorgeous Greta Jones (Allison Hayes), a shopkeeper's (Rhys
Williams) daughter, as a model. Mohawk Chief Kowanen (Ted De Corsia)
holds his tribe in check but rebel warrior Rokhawah (Neville Brand)
wishes into raiding the fort for guns . Onida, Kowanen's daughter (Rita
Gam), agrees to let the raiders into the fort after sundown and finds
herself caught in Adams' hut after the attackers getaway . Later on ,
the artist Adams and Onida fall in love but he is taken prisoner .
Meanwhile , Butler (John Hoyt), an Indian hater , is seeking to provoke
a war so that he might get rule of the whole Mohawk valley . Then he
murders Kowanen's son, Keoga, and this causes the chief into declaring
war against white men . After that, the courageous Adams trying to
thwart Iroquois uprising .
This peculiar B frontier western in 1950-style contains adventure , intrigue , fights and an inter-racial love story . It's a quickie with lack luster and low budget but it manages to be at least an enjoyable adventures movie because contains action, sensational outdoors and outlandish thrills situations abound . The story is neither realistic nor ambitious, but sympathetic with good scenarios, costumes and landscapes . It's made on the ideas and leftover from previous movie the very superior ¨Drums along the Mohawk¨ by John Ford with Henry Fonda and Claudette Colbert . The film displays a haunting and rich cinematography capturing flavor of colonial life by Karl Struss, Neumann's usual . The motion picture produced by Edward Alperson is finely directed by Kurt Neumann (The fly, Cronos, She-Devil, Tarzan and the leopard woman). This vigorous picture with some humor unintentionally interwoven obtained limited successful but results to be enough agreeable. It's a good stuff for young people and exotic adventures lovers who enjoy enormously with the extraordinary dangers on the luxurious landscapes and marvelous Technicolor photography.
I remember as a teenager passing a theater poster of a scantily clad Rita Gam and wishing I had the money to go in. I know now what I didn't then-- it was my lucky day. Even a longer look at that shapely leg wouldn't have made up for all the bad acting (deCorsia's wooden Indian should be planted in front of a cigar store), the stupefied poetic dialogue ("You shine like a moon above the stars,"), the ridiculous Hollywood casting (malt-shop teen Tommy Cook as Indian warrior), and the ultra-cheap production values (backgrounds painted by art class dropouts). Heck, they couldn't even stage minimal outdoor battle scenes, using stock shots from 1939's Drums Along the Mohawk instead. Note too, how artificially the Indians emerge from the forest as though they're expecting a parade to pass by. At least the producers knew enough to play up the sex angle with a bevy of Indian maidens apparently recruited from a Las Vegas stage show. I'm just sorry that director Kurt Neumann's name is attached to this misfire. He did manage a number of quality low-budget sci-fi flicks like The Fly (1958), Kronos (1957), and the ground-breaking Rocketship X-M (1950). Maybe there's a lesson here, like it's easier to direct bug-eyed monsters than a bunch of phony Indians.
"Mohawk" is a 1956 color film starring some darn good-looking young
people, beautiful scenery, and a different point of view towards
Indians. Scott Brady is an artist living in a fort that exists in peace
with the Mohawk Indians, except for one rabble-rouser (John Hoyt) who
grew up in the area and wants the Indians out. The script is
interesting for the period, because the Brady character is constantly
reminding people that the white man took land from the Indians.
The cast is populated with some gorgeous starlets: Lori Nelson, Allison Hayes, and Rita Gam. Scott Brady, who ended up becoming a character actor, actually started out as a poor man's Robert Wagner and is an attractive lead here.
Mae Clarke of the Cagney grapefruit is the Indian Chief's wife. All of the Indians have shaved chests. The most familiar actor to most will be Neville Brand as one of the Indians.
Okay, and the guys will love it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The IMDb credits state this film was done in Pathecolor, but I have to
admit, this was the oddest looking movie I've experienced yet.
Repeatedly one has characters in vibrant color back-dropped by scenery
or sets in black and white. At times various scenes appear entirely
sepia hued, and there are frequent transitions between day and night
within the same time frame. More than anything, it appeared to me that
someone was hired to colorize a black and white film, and simply
decided to do only half the job. Since no one else mentioned this in
the other reviews I've read, I might assume it's a quirk of the print I
viewed from the Mill Creek Western Collection. So if you have that set,
you'll probably experience what I just did.
Now I don't know what to make of Scott Brady. He portrays sort of a womanizer in the picture and his taste runs the gamut, but all of his girlfriends are quite attractive. It made me chuckle actually, because in his 1959/1960 TV Western Series 'Shotgun Slade', he also fancied himself somewhat of a ladies man, but in a somewhat laughable sort of way. You'll just have to catch a couple of those episodes to see what I mean.
The other reviewers on this board recap this story pretty well so no need to go into detail here. The kick for me was the casting for this flick, with Rita Gam, Lori Nelson and Allison Hayes all vieing for Brady's attention. TV and movie Western fans will no doubt enjoy catching Neville Brand here as a Tuscarora Indian Chief who wants to mix it up with the white soldiers. He's kept in check somewhat by Mohawk Chief Kowanen (Ted DeCorsia), but the picture does manage a fairly thrilling battle to close out the show. And say, did I get this right? That's Mae Clarke as Kowanen's wife Minikah, who a quarter century earlier caught a grapefruit in the smacker from Jimmy Cagney in "The Public Enemy". There's a bit of trivia you'll be glad to know.
What's rather interesting to me now that I've watched the picture, I actually rather enjoyed it even though it's pretty clichéd in most respects. Maybe it's because the principal players didn't seem to be taking things all too seriously and just had a good time putting this thing together. The one scene that really stood out for me was when Jonathan Adams (Brady) and Indian babe Onida (Gam) went for a swim, and wound up playing with a Mohawk version of Frisbee.
This western has a great defect: The Mohawk look exactly like your next door
neighbor with a bit of make up, like they were dressed for a costume party,
in other words they do not look real at all.
Rita Gam although she is very pretty, is a joke, because she is supposed to be a Mohawk.The most ridiculous scene in the film is Neville Brand doing the Indian war dance. Scott Brady is a painter and Lori Nelson, Allison Hayes and Rita Gam are all in love with him, lucky guy. Still, this film is enjoyable, the women are pretty and the story flows predictably, but easy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Charming, if silly western, clean and wholesome to the core (despite outrageously stupid scenes with stereotypically stupid Indians) and photographed with lush 1950's Technicolour which makes the scenery look lovely. The story has an artist Scott Brady trying to stop the war between whites and Indians, while romancing his fiancée Lori Nelson, his model Alison Hayes (who looks gorgeous in the aforementioned Technicolour) and an Indian princess Rita Gam. Directed by sci-fi expert Kurt Neumann from the script by Maurice Geraghty and Milton Krims, this is romantic, entertaining and as much fantasy as any fairytale.
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