A quite good if not perfect adaptation of the James Fenimore Cooper classic, 1936's The Last of the Mohicans captures a great deal of the excitement that makes the novel a favorite among youthful readers and those who remember their youth fondly. Although there are some aspects of the story's treatment of Native Americans that rub modern sensibilities the wrong way, it should also be noted that this version takes care to individualize the natives, something a bit unusual for the time in which the film was made. There are some other quibbles to be had with the screenplay, including a bit too much emphasis on the love stories and some dialogue that comes across as artificial and awkward, but on the whole, this is a fine adaptation that emphasizes adventure and danger. Also chief among its assets is Randolph Scott, whose physical presence is a decided bonus. Scott knows this character and plays him with both a matinee idol sheen and a sense of inner purpose that combine beautifully to create a memorable portrait. Although the era's practice of hiring white actors to play Indians may upset some, Bruce Cabot turns in a delightfully evil performance as Magua, and Robert H. Barrat is a sturdy Chingachgook. There's also the pleasure of Binnie Barnes, whose beauty and way with a line are both plusses.
by Craig Butler review