In the wilderness of early Colonial days, trapper Tom Hutter lives with his two daughters in an isolated floating fort. Tom's one-man vendetta against Indians has brought the wrath of the Hurons down on him...thereby garnering the reluctant aid of wilderness wanderer Deerslayer and his Mohican blood-brother, Chingachgook. Among adventures, violence and escapes, a batch of dirty secrets emerges...Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Old Tom Hutter:
Thank ye, oh Lord, for delivering my enemies into my hands. When them blood-lustin' heathen Hurons come loping this way, I'm going to give 'em hellfire and damnation right out of the mouth of my cannon. I'm going to smite 'em hip and thigh like the Good Book says... and teach 'em the error of their sinful ways. Amen, Lord.
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The others contributing to the comments section on this 1957 film seem pre-occupied with the so-called Political Correctness and racism of today. One goes so far as to say that he can't understand how children of the 1950's could accept this as entertainment. Well, let me comment on the last thing first. This film was released in the UK in December, 1957, when I was ten and three quarters years of age. At that time, both myself and all my boyhood pals had recently gone through the Davy Crockett phase and subsequently, any movie set in Colonial America and having plenty of yipping injuns; frontiersmen and flintlock muskets and pistols was bound to be popular with us. In this respect and at that very different time, THE DEERSLAYER was bound to be popular with the juvenile audience it was aimed at. It also had beautiful, warm and sunlit scenery, spendidly photographed
in CinemaScope and Color by De Luxe and a memorable score by Paul Sawtell and Bert Shefter.
At the time, I thought this film was marvellous and very exciting, especially the Indian attack on the fort in the middle of the lake. Me and my pals had a new hero in The Deerslayer and incorporated him into our games of cowboys and Indians in which some of us would play the Hurons, mown down mercilessly by the musket fire of the other boys.
This may seem very strange now to younger readers of this site who can't remember the 1950's, but this was the way it was then. Throughout our childhood, we had been indoctrinated by the cinema into believing that what would now be considered racist ideas about native Americans were correct. They were represented as "squalling polecats" and "savages" and "heathens", not as people. Just as anonymous targets to be mown down. A hindrance and a thorn in the side of white settlers pushing the frontier Westward.
So this film is a product of its time and should not be judged by our modern standards. There had been the very isolated film like BROKEN ARROW, that gave a more accurate and sympathetic view of the American Indian, but for every BROKEN ARROW, there were a dozen films of the calibre of THE DEERSLAYER; THE GUNS OF FORT PETTICOAT and DRAGOON WELLS MASSACRE. I do not think that our ideas as children about Red Indians would have been considered racist in 1957, because we kids had never heard that word at that time. But I like to think that we've all grown up a lot in our knowledge and attitudes since then. After all, I realise now that the Indians were fighting for their land, which was being stolen from them by the whites and fighting to preserve their way of life. They had a right to fight back. Looked at today, THE DEERSLAYER may look corny and racist, but it was filmed in 1957, not 2003. For it's time, then, a rousing Boy's Own adventure that would have been popular with juveniles. Modern boys in the eight to thirteen age bracket, though, probably wouldn't like it.
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