Last of the Mohicans (1936/1992)


D: George B. Seitz

United Artists/Reliance (Edward Small)

US 🇺🇸 1936

92 mins


W: Philip Dunne [based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper]

DP: Robert H. Planck

Ed: Jack Dennis & Harry Marker

Mus: Roy Webb

Randolph Scott (Hawkeye), Binnie Barnes (Alice Munro), Henry Wilcoxon (Maj. Duncan Heyward), Bruce Cabot (Magua), Heather Angel (Cora Munro)

It was a bold decision to attempt to bring James Fenimore Cooper's sprawling novel to the stage in the 1930's, before filmmaking practices or budgetary issues could really do justice to such a story, and while I can admire the attempt, it really does make a boring film.

Set amidst the French-Indian war, a British officer and his cohort are ambushed by the enemy and a Huron tribe who have become part of their numbers. The women are captured and the last members of the Mohican tribe mount a rescue attempt.

Stage-bound and dialogue heavy with cliched "Native Indian" speech, this adaptation is full of history but quite light on adventure. It wasn't the first film to attempt to bring Cooper's work to the screen, as a few silent versions had preceded it, followed by a some further versions and a couple of television series' before Michael Mann directed the definitive version in 1992.

I would have to say that this version is for historical interest only.


The Last Of The Mohicans (1936)
The Last Of The Mohicans (1936)

D: Michael Mann
Warner Bros./Morgan Creek (Michael Mann & Hunt Lowry)
US 1992
122 mins


W: Michael Mann & Christopher Crowe [based on the novel by James Fenimore Cooper]
DP: Dante Spinotti
Ed: Dov Hoenig & Arthur Schmidt
Mus: Trevor Jones & Randy Edelman
PD: Wolf Kroeger

Daniel Day-Lewis (Hawkeye), Madeleine Stowe (Cora Munro), Russell Means (Chingachgook), Eric Schweig (Uncas), Jodhi May (Alice Munro), Steve Waddington (Maj. Duncan Heyward), Wes Studi (Magua)

Technically brilliant and ambitiously directed, this adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's literary classic leans more to the romance side of the story over the adventure and war of Colonial America, as Hawkeye, the white, adopted son of a Native American Indian rescues the two daughters of a British officer and falls in love with one of them.
Though there's a severely lack of characterisation which makes the love affair rather unconvincing, director Michael Mann counteracts this with some breathtaking photography, occasional moments of heart-pounding action and a stirring music score which is amongst the best movie themes of all time, at least as far as I'm concerned. 
It may be light on action and a little overlong, and the entire movie as a whole is probably less than the sum of all its parts, but it's still the definitive version of James Fenimore Cooper's novel

Daniel Day-Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans
Daniel Day-Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans