(director: Kurt Neumann; screenwriters: Maurice Geraghty/Milton Krims; cinematographer: Karl Struss; editor: Wm.B. Murphy; music: Edward L. Alperson Jr.; cast: Scott Brady (Jonathan Adams), Rita Gam (Onida), Neville Brand (Rokhawah), Lori Nelson (Cynthia Stanhope), Allison Hayes (Greta Jones), John Hoyt (Butler), Vera Vague (Aunt Agatha), Rhys Williams (Clem Jones), Tommy Cook (Keoga), John Hudson (Captain Langley), Ted de Corsia (Kowanen); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Edward L. Alperson; Twentieth Century-Fox ; 1956)
“A stilted but cordial B Western set in the pre-Revolutionary Mohawk Valley of New England.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A stilted but cordial B Western set in the pre-Revolutionary Mohawk Valley of New England, that tells about trouble between settlers and the Iroquois that was provoked by a hateful white man. It’s helmed by Kurt Neumann (“The Desperados Are in Town”/ “Rocketship X-M”) and written by Maurice Geraghty and Milton Krims. The screenplay proves to be ridiculous, especially in its unconvincing romantic story. Much of the battle footage was lifted from John Ford’s much superior Drums Along the Mohawk; some critics said more should have been lifted to save this absurd film from itself.
Jonathan Adams (Scott Brady) is a womanizing Boston artist commissioned by the Massachusetts Society to paint landscapes in a remote New England valley located near Fort Alden. He’s having an affair with his earthy barmaid model, Greta (Allison Hayes), blessed with a pleasing disposition, when his snobby but beautiful Boston fiancée Cynthia Stanhope (Lori Nelson) arrives at the fort for a surprise visit with her stuffy chaperone, Aunt Agatha Stanhope (Vera Vague).
At this time, the embittered first settler in Mohawk Valley, John Butler (John Hoyt), agitates for a war between the peaceful Indians and the settlers by stirring up both the Indians and the settlers. Butler is a crazed man, filled with hate, who wants the war so both sides could wipe each other out and he will retain the valley for himself. He warns the wise Mohawk chief, Kowanen (Ted de Corsia), that the settlers have brought in muskets and that many more of them are to follow. The chief doesn’t buy into Butler’s venomous message, but his young hotheaded son Keoga (Tommy Cook) and the revengeful Tuscarora brave Rokhawah (Neville Brand), whose father was killed by white men, scheme to steal the muskets from the fort. The Indians get caught in the fort after sunset and are repelled, but the Indian girl who let them in, the chief’s daughter Onida (Rita Gam), doesn’t get a chance to escape through the tunnel in the artist’s room. The artist finds her beautiful and helps her escape the next morning in his wagon. Grateful that his daughter was returned safely and a possible war is averted, the sensible chief welcomes the white man to stay overnight. But Butler stirs up the settlers that Adams was killed by the Indians. Captain Langley (John Hudson), the army officer in charge of the fort, believes the Indians are peaceful and visits the Mohawk village. He finds Adams there and urges him to return to the village to show that he’s not harmed. But Butler ambushes Keoga as the two were heading back to the fort. When Adams brings Keoga’s body back to the Indian village, Rokhawah stirs up the tribe to declare war and get revenge for the killing. Adams is held as their prisoner. Butler is forced out of the fort, when the army wises up to him, and he is killed by the warriors. The battle begins in earnest and many die, but when the Mohawk chief learns that all the friction was caused by Butler he calls for peace. It ends with Adams choosing to marry Onida and live with the Mohawks. The acting was so lame and the dialogue so limp, that neither the war story nor the romantic melodrama was believable.
There are also two pleasant but forgettable songs: the title song “Mohawk” and “Love Plays the Strings of my Banjo.”
REVIEWED ON 6/15/2007 GRADE: C+