Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 1936. Edward Small Productions. Screenplay by Philip Dunne, from an adaptation by John L. Balderston, Paul Perez, Daniel Moore, based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper. Cinematography by Robert H. Planck. Produced by Edward Small. Music by Roy Webb. Production Design by John DuCasse Schulze. Costume Design by Franc Smith. Film Editing by Jack Dennis, Harry Marker. Academy Awards 1936.
Rousing film adventure based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper. Randolph Scott plays the heroic Hawkeye, a white man raised by natives who saves two white women and their British army escort when their Huron native guide abandons them in the forest. Hawkeye falls in love with one of the women (Binnie Barnes) while his Mohican companion makes eyes at the other, their personal drama playing out between battles waged by French and British troops in pre-Revolutionary America. The film features a wholly simplistic portrait of natives; for its time it could be accused of trying for a level of realism not seen among its contemporaries, but there’s no getting around the cringeworthy sight of obviously white guys wearing dark makeup and speaking broken English badly. The action scenes are wonderful, however, and Scott cuts a magnificent figure as a plastic hero. The Michael Mann version from 1992 is obviously better for accuracy and depth, but this one is a sturdy piece for its time.