Re: '36 Mohicans!

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Posted by Rich on January 21, 2000 at 16:01:31:

In Reply to: '36 Mohicans! posted by myrrh on January 21, 2000 at 11:58:53:

Try these musings on the subject ... from our Mohican Musings:

Throughout these pages, we've discussed Cooper's novel at some length, and, of course,
delved deeply in the 1992 film version of LOTM. Barely touched is the previous "classic"
film version of the story, the 1936 edition.

The movie stars Randolph Scott as Hawkeye and Binnie Barnes as Alice. Here we find a
virtual reversal of the Cora/Alice roles from what we have become used to in Michael
Mann's film. In the novel, Cora is the older, darker sister attracted to Uncas who dies on the
cliffs. Here, Alice is the older, dark-haired sister. She & Hawkeye share a love interest. Cora
& Uncas are attracted to one another, and it is the Cora character who leaps off the cliffs to
join Uncas. Confused?

You might be surprised to hear & see some amazing similarities between this film and the
1992 version. Look past the cheesy music, the cardboard-like characterizations of the Indian
roles, the uninspiring scenery! What you'll find are some incredible influences upon Michael
Mann by this screenplay written by Phillip Dunne. Though there are, at times, some minor
word changes, and perhaps a line is spoken by a different character, there are certain scenes
which are lifted, almost verbatim, from this early classic.

Heyward arrives at Albany via carriage ... You'll hear, "... loyal subjects ... France is your
enemy ... You do want you want with your own scalp ..." Following a version of The
Ambush, Cora (or is it Alice?) again stops Heyward from shooting at the Mohicans, and
Hawkeye utters, "If your aim's as bad as your judgment, I don't imagine there's much
danger of you hitting them!" The horses are killed. Soon after is Canoes. The group separates
to avoid the pursuing Hurons. Alice & Hawkeye discover a burned out cabin. The scenes of
Cameron's Cabin & The Burial Ground are combined into one, as Alice & Hawkeye have,
and resolve, a conflict based upon misunderstanding. They all reunite at the cave. The party
arrives at Fort William Henry. There's even a 1936 version of The Kiss - maybe, The Peck?
Uncas is the courier ... things vary wildly here, but then comes a sequence of scenes that are
strikingly similar ... the word "remake" is truly applicable! The colonials debate Munro &
Heyward; "... not a butcher ... You forget yourself ... his word's good on the frontier ...
making peace with the French ..." even the "... serious disagreement" line! The colonials leave
... "... should've skinned out of this ... got no families ... clear the French outposts ..." Shown is
Hawkeye, Chingcachgook & Uncas actually struggling with Britsh troops attempting to stop
the desertion. They land, all three of them, in jail. Alice goes to the stockade to speak with
Hawkeye ... "... You should have gone when you had the chance ..." She then proceeds to
argue the Mohicans' case with her father & the Major "... He knew the consequences ... He
didn't send me ... I would do anything to keep you from getting hurt ... Justice! ... the sooner
British guns ... Sedition! ... It's all there, nearly word for word! And, watch Binnie Barnes.
Think Madeleine Stowe may have patterned her mannerisms after her? Webb sends his
messengers who are ambushed by Magua. There is a Parlay. The scene is visually very
similar to what you are used to in the 1992 version. The Indians look on ... " Col. Munro ...
gallant antagonist ... My scouts intercepted this dispatch ... I know the temper ... You've had
your answer! ... I beg you ..." Magua fires up the Indians who proceed to assault the
surrendered fort ... a heart (or is that jelly?) is cut out ... Munro is shot ... Alice shoots a
warrior ... the Munro sisters are taken captive ... the Mohicans escape the prison ... the
French intervene and restore order (a touch of historical accuracy here?) ... The most poignant
moment of the film ensues, as a dying Col. Munro is brought before Gen. Montcalm and is
presented his sword. The Mohicans, with Heyward, track the sisters. Heyward threatens
Hawkeye with judgment after this is all resolved ... Uncas takes Cora from the Huron
village ... they are pursued to the cliffs ... Magua & Uncas fight ... Uncas is killed ... Cora
jumps ... The others arrive and Chingachgook fights, and kills, Magua ... there is burial &
prayer, "Great Spirit ... a warrior goes to you ... I, Chingachgook, The Last of the
Mohicans." Alice needs to be rescued. Heyward shows his heroic side ... this time,
however, it is Hawkeye who is to be burned at the stake, saved in the nick of time by Capt.
Jack's arrival with Gen. Abercrombie's British forces. Before a military court, Heyward
exonerates Hawkeye, who signs on as a scout for the march against Canada.

Differing in many aspects - and in some, a bridge from the 1826 novel to the 1992 film
version - this 1936 movie is clearly the inspiration for the Michael Mann story we have
come to know and love. Catch it sometime, if you haven't yet.

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