Last of the Mohicans (1971)
Director: David Maloney.
Starring: John Abineri (Chingachgook), Barbara Ashcroft (Chaperone One), Ken Barker (Webb's Staff Major), Audrey Cameron (Chaperone Two), Noel Coleman (General Webb), Andrew Crawford (Colonel Munro), Michael Cullen, Joanna David (Alice Munro), Tim Goodman (Major Duncan Heyward), Prentis Hancock (Lieutenant Grant), Kenneth Ives (Hawkeye), David Leland (David), Philip Madoc (Magua), Patricia Maynard (Cora Munro), Hilary Minster (Webb's Sergeant), George Pravda (Montcalm), Roy Skelton (Private Jones), James Snell, Richard Warwick (Uncas), Bill Wiesener (Munro's Sergeant).
Masterpiece Theatre version
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire movie.
A frontiersman known as Hawkeye and his two Mohican companions Chief Chingachgook and his son Uncas head back to Fort William Henry (defended by 500 soldiers) in today's New York State. He reports to the commander of the fort, Colonel Munro. The report is that they have seen nothing. The Colonel thinks the report is way too brief, but the scouts insist that they saw nothing unusual. The Colonel's right hand man is Major Duncan Heyward from Virginia colony. The Colonel tells him that although he has been in the service for 40 years, he has hardly been five years in his beloved Scotland. The goal of the Colonel is to drive French General Montcalm back into French Canada.
Back in Scotland are Colonel Munro's daughters, the brunette Cora and the younger blonde Alice. They are attending a dance. Lt. Grant pays a great deal of attention to the sisters. He will be heading to New York colony and Fort William Henry (a day's march north of Fort Edward) soon and the two daughters want to make the trip with him. The gossips at the ball take note that Cora's grandmother was half-"Negro".
At Fort William Henry the guard brings in a drunken Indian. He was caught trying to assault one of the white women. The punishment is 250 lashes, which is doubled to 500 spread over two days, for insolence.
At Fort Edward the commander General Webb does not think that Montcalm will attack Fort William Henry. So he refuses to send any additional troops to the neighboring fort. Colonel Munro's two daughters arrive at the fort. The daughters meet General Webb and Major Heyward. Heyward takes an immediate liking to Alice. Gen. Webb is a bit flustered. He is not used to two unmarried women showing up more or less out of the blue at his fort.
Colonel Munro receives a message that his daughters are at Fort Edward. He is happy and yet worried too. After all, the area is a war zone and not a safe area. In the fort Hawkeye and company see the French marching toward Fort William Henry with their Indian allies.
At Fort Edward the Indian named Magua will guide the party taking the two daughters and Major Heyward to Fort William Henry. They can't take the main wagon trail for fear of being discovered. They have to go by the forest trail. Meanwhile, at Fort William Henry the French and Indians arrive. They start firing a cannon at the fort and then begin firing their weapons.
At Fort Edward an Indian runner from the northern fort brings a mess from Colonel Munro that Montcalm has some 5,000 men and is attacking the fort. Webb still can't believe that it is possible. He simply says: I don't believe it. The party escorting the two daughters stop for lunch. A small group of Hurons attack the party. Major Heyward kills one and Cora manages to knock out another with a blow to the back of the head. But it is Hawkeye and company that comes to the rescue. They kill some and chase the others away. The daughters are very grateful to Hawkeye and his men. Hawkeye informs the group that they are not even within 10 miles of the forest trail. When Magua hears this he runs off. He deliberately misled the group. It turns out that Magua was a brave not from the peaceful Delaware tribe, but from the Hurons. Itinerant preacher David arrives on his horse. Magua finds, joins and then leads a group of Hurons in pursuit of the party headed to Fort William Henry.
Hawkeye says they will have to make a forced march to a place he knows where they can camp in greater security. They find a cave where they will stay the night. The group gets to know each other. The Mohicans tell the daughters that the Mohicans have no land. They were dispossessed by the whites. They used to have the land between the Hudson River and the ocean. Then came the Dutch and their fire-water. Chingachgook says that his son Uncas is the last of the Mohicans. Hawkeye talks about this fondness for his rifle. One can only load a musket once every minute, while he can load his rifle three times a minute. Outside the wolves have frightened the horses, which the party had to abandon.
The daughters have still not arrived at Fort William Henry and Col. Munro is worried. Perhaps they are stranded in the forest. Lt. Grant volunteers to search for his daughters. The rescue party of five leaves the next morning at first light. One soldier is killed just as the party starts moving away from the fort. Another party that tried to get through to Ft. Edward returns to the fort with three dead and one wounded. One of Grant's men is hit and killed by an arrow. There are only three of the five now left.
Preacher David stands up outside the cave and gets wounded. There are around forty braves set for the attack on the cave. The party kills four as they try to ford the river, but others get across. The Hurons rush the cave. Meanwhile, the Hurons also kill the last two of Grant's men. The one soldier with Major Heyward is shot and killed. The men are able to kill twenty of the forty Hurons. Then Hawkeye kills another one.
Cora tells the men that they will stay behind with the wounded preacher and everyone else will leave. Major Heyward demands that he stay. Hawkeye and company leave the cave from a rear entrance. As they leave the area they find the dead body of Lt. Grant tied to a post. After Hawkeye and company get away, Magua enters the cave from the rear entrance. The women scream.
Major Heyward wants to know from Magua what he plans to do with them. Magua throws Lt. Grant's pistol to him. The rescue party of five are all dead. At Fort William Henry Col. Munro sends three Indian runners with the same message for help to Fort Edward. Back at the cave Major Heyward reasons with Magua. He tells him that General Montcalm will give him nothing for his hostages. Instead, he should take the daughters to Colonel Munro. He will pay for his daughters with fire water, a gold medal, a crown-filled pouch(es), a long rifle and gunpowder. Magua seems to like the idea. Major Heyward tells the women: "Now we have hope."
Magua shoves off with his hostages in three canoes. Hawkeye and his companions see them. The fleet-footed Uncas runs along the river following the canoes. Magua lands his canoes and then starts walking. Major Heyward becomes worried about the direction in which they are walking. Magua speaks with Cora in private. He says he was born a chief; a chief among chiefs. Before the palefaces came he was happy. Then he got hooked on fire water and became a "rascal". Colonel Munro found the drunken Magua, had him tied up and had him whipped with sticks. Magua shows Cora the nasty scars on his back, saying: "Scars left by your father at the whipping post." He adds: Take him back his daughters? Never! It's blood for blood!. Cora asks why should his innocent daughters pay the punishment. She then asks the unrelenting Magua to at least release her sister, saying that to loose both his daughters would kill her father. Magua says he will let Alice go back to her father, but he will take Cora with him. She will fetch water, hoe corn and cook venison for him. Cora says she will resist.
Hawkeye and the Mohicans find the canoes. When it is time for Magua to move out, Alice tells her sister that she will go with her for it is better to die together. The sisters stir up a real commotion and Major Heyward takes advantage of it to try to disable one of the braves. Preacher David starts blowing out the gunpowder from the Indian's muskets. As Major Heyward struggles, Hawkeye and company arrive. Two Hurons are killed and the others have to run away. Cora says to Hawkeye that they are in his debt once again. Hawkeye suggests the women cut the bottoms off their long dresses. Alice is worried about showing her limbs to the men, but Cora says it is necessary for their survival in the forest. Hawkeye then tells the women that they should say thanks to Uncas, because he was the one who kept up with the canoes.
The group now heads for a place to stay for the night. They head to an old abandoned block house where Hawkeye and Chingachgook once fought against the Indians. They were in fact the only two survivors of the fight at the block house. Because the ground is seen by the Hurons as a cemetery, they will avoid the area.
The Hurons come near the block house, but leave quickly. Because of the burial mounds, they run from the spirits of the dead. Cora thinks the Indians are barbaric, especially those engaging in scalping. Hawkeye tells her that the also British soldiers scalped. Cora says: "I do not believe it!" Hawkeye says that some of the Indians do it for the scalp bounty, while others do it to set free the spirits of the dead warriors. Major Heyward sets up a feint to catch the attention of a French sentry, who is then killed by one of the Mohicans.
At Fort Edward General Webb is still maintaining that Munro exaggerates the number of French in the area. But he decides to send out a patrol to get an assessment of the number of enemy and of the situation at Fort William Henry.
Hawkeye finds out that Montcalm has been besieging Fort William Henry. He decides to wait for night to try to get through the enemy lines to the fort.
Magua reports to Gen. Montcalm. He has brought with him the body of the dead sentry. He says that Hawkeye and the Mohicans killed him. Hawkeye is bringing the daughters of Col. Munro to Fort William Henry. Montcalm gives the order to alert the pickets!
Hawkeye and the others are very close to the fort now. Alice sees her father and shouts out to him. The Colonel hears her. He sends out a group of soldiers to make sure the arriving party get into the fort. Mission accomplished, but Hawkeye and the Mohicans stay outside to scout some more. Inside the fort, the survivors report that they suffered one dead, Private Jones. The daughters tell their father that Hawkeye was in command in the forest, and their father says he will be commended and rewarded.
Hawkeye and the Mohicans have been captured by the Hurons They are tied to poles while the Hurons with Magua directing them dance around the captives. Each warrior takes his knife and cuts the chests of the captives. Montcalm is bothered by all the noise made by the Hurons and he comes to check it out. He shouts: "Call your men to order, Magua!" Montcalm then tells his soldiers to haul down the captives. Hawkeye tells Montcalm that he is a British scout. Magua defends his actions by saying it is a Huron custom. A slow death honors the brave. Montcalm is not having any of it, gets the three captives free and even forces Magua to give back to Hawkeye his long rifle.
The surgeon at Fort William Henry really resists the desires of the daughters to serve as nurses. He says that he cannot expose ladies to naked men. But Cora is very stubborn. She stands up to him and to her father. Her father finally gives in and tells the surgeon to employ his daughters, adding "and that's an order."
At Ft. Edward the assessment of the enemy strength comes in. Montcalm has 20,000 soldiers and 2,000 Hurons. In addition, they have a battery siege cannon.
At Ft. William Henry Major Heyward makes it known to his commanding officer that he wants to marry his daughter Alice. Dad is a bit shocked and is opposed to the idea. He demands to know why he does not want to marry the older daughter Cora. What is really bothering the Colonel is the thought that the Major rejected Cora because of her mixed ethnic background. Heyward assures him that he has nothing against Cora; it's just that he is in love with Alice. The Colonel finally tells Heyward: "You shall have Alice!"
Hawkeye arrives. He explains that he and the Mohicans were released by Montcalm. The French commanders want to parlay with the Colonel. Montcalm also has some dispatches for the Colonel. The Colonel agrees to parlay with the French General. He thanks Hawkeye for his help in the rescue of his daughters.
The parlay begins. Montcalm says that he will storm the fort. Montcalm then gives the Colonel the three dispatches that Munro had send to Fort Edward with three Indian runners. All three runners have been killed. General Montcalm then gives the Colonel a dispatch from General Webb. The Colonel turns white when he reads the dispatch. He turns to Major Heyward and says: "We are destroyed! General Webb has ordered me to surrender the fort."
Colonel Munro tells Major Heyward that General Webb has found it "convenient to destroy us." Munro asks Montcalm for a 24 hour truce so he can consider his options. Montcalm grants him the truce. The Colonel and Major Heyward return to their fort. Heyward speaks with the two daughters to try to persuade them to leave the surgeon's service. The women refuse. Colonel Munro walks along the parapet. Magua sees him from a distance and prepares to shoot him with a rifle. Montcalm stops him from firing at the last second. He then asks Magua why he wants to kill the Colonel. Magua tells him why.
Major Heyward tells Alice that he has grown to love her. She responds positively to him and will leave with him. Col. Munro hears the French celebrating. In response he asks for music and dance at Fort William Henry. The dance begins. The Colonel tells Major Heyward: "I have to surrender."
Montcalm has a hard time controlling the Hurons. Colonel Munro speaks with Montcalm. He tells him that he will surrender the fort, but only if they can walk out with honor. Montcalm agrees. Magua becomes very angry about this agreement. He tells the General that the Huron have no scalps. They want the scalps of the British for the pale-faced chief dishonors the red man. "I am ashamed before my people" Montcalm talks about burying the hatchet, but Magua says he will only bury the hatchet after it is covered in blood.
At night the Hurons have a big celebration. It is a war dance. They burn an effigy of Col. Munro. Montcalm appears and says: "What is this, Magua?" Magua lies and says it is a dance to celebrate victory. Despite Montcalm's disapproval, the Hurons start the dance again. Magua stabs the effigy.
The British soldiers, their wives, the two daughters and their Indian allies start leaving Fort William Henry. The French go in the fort as the British leave.
As the British are leaving the fort, the Hurons watch from the side of the road. One Huron warrior sees a bright red shawl of a woman refugee and starts to take it from her. A wounded British soldier stops him, but the Huron strikes him with his club, knocking him down and out. He then strikes the woman knocking her down. He takes the shawl. All hell breaks lose as the warriors go to the attack. Magua struggles with preacher David. Magua gets free of him and grabs Cora, but she fights him. So Magua takes Alice over his shoulder. He knows that Cora will follow after Alice. (Preacher David also goes with them. The Indians thinks the preacher is crazy and won't kill him.) Hawkeye and the Mohicans arrive at the very end of the fight and so can't help much. The Colonel and Major Heyward are still alive and that's saying something because all the others have been slaughtered by the Hurons.
Hawkeye tells the Colonel that they will follow Magua and his small band and find them. They will start in the morning. (The Hurons will also stop for the night.) Hawkeye adds that Magua will have to go by foot at first, while they will go by canoe to catch up with him.
While canoeing the river, a different group of Hurons sees Hawkeye's party. They give chase. Shooting from the canoe, Hawkeye kills two braves, while Major Heyward kills one. Chingachgook is only grazed by a bullet. They are able to get away the their pursuers. They land their canoe. Hawkeye sends Uncas out to scout the land for half a mile north.
Preacher David tells the daughters that they are going to Magua's village. Magua decides to split the group. He takes Alice and the preacher, while Cora is forced to go with the other group. Magua arrives in his village with his two captives. He is greeted by the chief. The squaws take charge of Cora, while the chief says that the preacher will live, but will be tortured.
Uncas tells Hawkeye that Magua split his party going in two different directions. Cora has been taken to the turtle people (a band of the Delaware Indians). It just so happens that because of friendly relations between the Mohicans and the Delawares, Chingachgook is a chief of both tribes. Major Heyward comes up with a plan to get into the Huron village to get Alice. He pretends to be a healer sent by the French to help heal the sick of the Hurons. Preacher David goes with him. (After a lot of quick talking, the Huron chief accepts Heyward's story. He gives him the job of curing the ill daughter of one of his tribesmen. The sick woman is in the hut with Alice.)
Magua visits Cora. She is now dressed is Indian clothing, but she does not realize that she is actually dressed as an Indian bride ready for marriage to Magua. When she learns the truth she takes off the various bridal symbols. Magua says she will be whipped for this.
A Huron hunting party returns to the village bringing the captive Uncas along. The chief is informed that one of the young braves fled from Uncas in fear. The chief confronts the younger man and scolds him in front of everyone. The "coward" is then killed with a knife by one of the other warriors. When the braves grab Uncas he fights with them. He manages to reach a post and the chief says that means he is a man, he is safe.
Col. Munro moans that Montcalm saw the massacre but did nothing. The Colonel says that through his daughters, God is punishing him. He thinks that God is mocking him. Hawkeye tells him to stop thinking that way. Chingachgook comes in to say that the Hurons have taken Uncas as their prisoner.
Magua comes to the Huron village just after Alice and the preacher leave the chief's hut. Magua sees Uncas and refers to him as the "bounding deer". He tells the chief that this means that Hawkeye and Chingachgook have to be nearby. Magua then tells the chief that two score of Hurons have died at the hands of Hawkeye and the Mohicans. He adds: "Le this Mohican die!" Uncas defiantly tells him to get his "Huron dogs" and let them see how a Mohican warrior can die.
Hawkeye and Chingachgook make their way to the Huron village. Magua tells Uncas that he had a dream the previous night. He saw the dim future of the red man. He saw white men in numbers more plentiful than the leaves on the trees. Only the shadow of the red man was left upon the land. Then he heard a voice telling him to gather the various tribes together and drive out the white man. Uncas replies that "Only in friendship is there hope for the red man." Magua is disgusted with the remark and he tells Uncas that the white men have already killed him.
The ill Huron woman dies. Alice, the preacher and Heyward are now very worried. But Heyward comes up with another idea.
Hawkeye and Chinggachgook take out two Huron sentries.
Heyward and the preacher take the dead body off the cot. Alice then lays down on the cot. They cover up her face with the blanket on the cot. They then carry Alice out from the hut. Heyward tells the Huron chief that they are taking the Indian woman into the woods where her spirit may find a new home. The chief lets them go. Heyward tells the chief that she shall return.
Chingachgook cuts a hole in the hut and unties Uncas. Uncas then starts insulting the Huron warriors about their lack of bravery. The two guards go into the hut to admonish Uncas and are killed by Chingachgook and Uncas.
Alice is reunited with her father. Uncas thinks he can get Cora away from the Delaware village. They have to be careful because 200 warriors will be on the attack in the morning. The group travels to the Delaware village, stashing their weapons outside the village area. While there, Magua comes to the Delaware village. Hawkeye and company are now nervous, but Hawkeye tells them that they will rely on Delaware tribal law. What Magua gets or doesn't get will depend on this law.
Magua learns that Alice is there along with Cora. He then asks if the Delaware have seen any signs of white men in the Delaware hunting grounds. They have not. Magua then buys their good will by giving them gifts -- some of the items taken from the massacred British bodies. Magua then says that Hawkeye is in the camp. He is there among the prisoners. The chief calls for the interpreter of the laws. This proves to be a very elderly Delaware. He demands to speak with the leader of the group of prisoners. Heyward steps forward and claims he is the leader -- that he is Hawkeye. But the real Hawkeye steps forward as himself. Now the chief is confused. He asks Magua to point out the real Hawkeye. Magua points out the real Hawkeye. But the Major says that Magua lies. So the law interpreter sets up a rifle contest between the Major and Hawkeye. The major misses the target pot altogether, while Hawkeye destroys it with one shot without any deliberate aiming. The Major objects to the contest so they set up another firing contest. Again the Major misses. But then Hawkeye also misses. When they say that both shooters missed the target Hawkeye tells them to look inside the target pot haning from the tree branch. The man shot through the bottom of the swirling pot and the bullet went out through the mouth of the pot.
The law interpreter decides to side with Hawkeye. But Magua says he cries out for justice. He is entitled to Cora at least. Cora asks for mercy from the elderly man. She wants permission to depart in peace. She asks: Will you take my father's daughter and give her to this villain? She then wants Uncas to speak on her behalf. But the law interpreters says of Uncas: a warrior who deserts his tribe is doubly a traitor. So Uncas moves the medallion hanging on his chest to show that he has a symbol of the turtle tattooed on his chest. Uncas says that Hawkeye is his friend. Hawkeye confirms this: "I have never harmed a Delaware." The law interpreters says that the friends of Uncas are the friends of the Delaware.
Magua counters by saying that Cora is his by right of conquest. Uncas says that he will take Cora back from him by conquest. But the law interpreter tells Magua to take who he brought and go in love. Cora shouts "No!" but again the law interpreter tells Magua to go with her. Uncas shouts to Cora that they will come for her. Then he shouts to Magwa: "Huron, there shall be men on your trail." Magua leaves.
Magua takes Cora with him into the forests. He calls for his companion who comes and serves as rearguard.
Hawkeye sends an Indian boy out to retrieve his long rifle and the weapons of his companions. He then starts planning the coming battle with the Hurons. He tells the Colonel that this will be an Indian battle, not an infantry regiment facing and infantry regiment. The Indian boy is able to get the guns, but the rearguard gets to take a shot at him. The boy gets back to Hawkeye, but as soon as the frontiersman takes the weapons from him, the boy collapses. He has been shot in the back.
Magua reaches the Huron village. He tells the elders that the Delawares and the Yankees are coming to fight them. The elders want to know what Magua has done. Magua says that an important Delaware chief has returned. He says they now seek his blood and his prisoner.
Chingachgook gives the battle plan. Twenty warriors will be in the forest on the right of the valley. Hawkeye will be the leader. Twenty warriors will be in the woods on the left of the valley and will be led by Chingachgook. And lastly 100 warriors will move up the valley under the leadership of Uncas. Major Heyward will go with Hawkeye, while Col. Munro will go with Chingachgook. Preacher David will fight with his sling shot and will accompany Hawkeye.
Uncas visits Cora. He tells her: "You will be Magua's woman." He adds: "You shall hear your father die." But Uncas will die first.
Uncas calls on the great Manitou, who is great, wise, good and just. The Delaware then move out to attack the Hurons. The Hurons ready themselves to meet the onslaught. Chingachgook and the Colonel are the first to run into the Hurons. The Hurons fire first, but without much effect. After some fighting, Chingachgook calls for Hawkeye and his men and then for Uncas and his men to join in on the fight. They are able to rout the Hurons.
In her hut Cora taunts the boys guarding the door. She says they are boys and not warriors. She tells them to be men and fight for the honors of a warrior. The boys rush off to fight. Cora uses the opportunity to make a run for it. Magua retreats back to the village. He finds Cora gone. He and his small group of Hurons then start chasing after Cora. Cora starts canoeing away. Magua and his men reach the canoes and start paddling after Cora. And right behind Magua comes Hawkeye, Chingachgook and Uncas. Hawkeye says it will soon be dark and so decides to start the chase in the morning. Alice wonders where Cora is sleeping this night. She tends to the wounds of her father. Major Heywared asks her: "You will stay with me?" Yes, says Alice.
With the morning light Hawkeye, Chingachgook, Uncas and preacher David paddle after Magua. Cora runs from Magua who is close on her heels. Uncas runs ahead of the other three men. Cora tries to hide amid the ferns. When she no longer hears the sound of running, she pops up from the ferns. Magua and his men are directly behind her.
Uncas comes upon the place where Cora was recaptured by Magua. Hawkeye tells everyone: "Spread out!"
At camp the Colonel awakens. He asks to talk to the fellows, but Alice has to inform him that they have already left in pursuit of Cora and Magua. Hawkeye and company catch up with Magua. Preacher David hits the first man, taking him out with a stone from his sling shot. Magua and his men start running but run right into the guns of Hawkeye and friends. One, two and three Hurons go down. Cora decides that she will go no farther. Magua takes out his knife and threatens her with death. She says: "If I am to take a man, I will take Uncas." Magua gets even madder. Uncas sees him threatening Cora so he jumps down from a high point. Magua is able to grab him and stab him. In the meantime, a Huron warrior decides to kill Cora and stabs her to death. When Magua sees this, he becomes furious and kills Cora's killer. Uncas gets up, but Magua finishes him off with a hatchet blow. Hawkeye gets ready to shoot Magua, but Chingachgook stops him. He wants Magua for himself. Chingachgook chases and catches Magua. The two men fight hand to hand. Chingachgook is able to stab Magua. Magua readies himself to hatchet Chingachgook, but Chingachgook ducks underneath Magua and lifts him up and over to head him flying down to the river below.
The bodies of Uncas and Cora are taken back to the Delaware. The old law interpreters says a few words for the occasion. Chingachgook says: "My race is gone. I am alone." But Hawkeye is there to tell him he is not alone. The old man says: "I have lived to see the last of the Mohicans." Hawkeye and Chingachgook leave the ceremony together.
There are some flaws in the mini-series. Much of the film takes place in the dark of forest and/or army and Indian quarters. Most of the fighting is in the daylight, but this is a smaller part of the film. The film bogs down at times. They were probably trying to be truer to the novel by James Fennimore Cooper by putting in a lot of conversations between white man and red man. Some of it seemed superfluous to the story. Other than this, the movie moves along pretty well. There are quite a few actions scenes to keep one's interest as the British go from one crisis to another. The acting was not great, but it was not all that bad either. The love story in this version of the tale is a rather minor part of the movie as compared to the one starring Daniel Day Lewis. All in all it's an o.k movie to watch.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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