Drums Along the Mohawk's historical inaccuracies and oversights hinder its myriad narrative joys and rich aesthetic design... [But] if Ford was, per Jonathan Lethem, "a poet in black and white," he became a sharp impressionist in color. The finely calibrated stillness of Ford's shots, occasionally ravished by the greens, reds, and blues of the colonial wardrobe, gives the film a painterly quality, as if Ford had animated a William Ranney portrait.
John Ford’s Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) is one of the two recent Twilight Time Blu-ray releases from Darryl F. Zanuck’s Fox whose Technicolor is so jaw-dropping that one is periodically persuaded to overlook all sorts of dramaturgical and/or ideological excesses... Drums was in fact Ford’s first colour film, and is clearly one of his most beautiful pictorially, if also one of his most objectionable when it comes to racial stereotyping.
One of Ford's most pure films, not a shot wasted. It is simpler, true, missing a richness of the following masterpieces (Young Mr. Lincoln, How Green Was My Valley), but its surface is exquisitely honed and moving. Its concise drama is of a cycle of starting a home, the terror of a new home, finding the love for that home, the abject destruction of the home, and beginning again from scratch.