Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Last of the Mohicans (TV)

The Last of the Mohicans – British title
Der letzte Mohikaner – German title
Mohikanlarin sonuncusu – Turkish title
The Last of the Mohicans – English title

A 1971 British television production [BBC (London)]
Producer: John McRae
Director: David Maloney
Story: The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (James Kent Cooper)
Teleplay: Harry Green
Photography: Ken Westbury [color]
Music: Dudley Simpson
Running time: 8 episodes x 45 minutes

Hawkeye – Kenneth Ives
Chingachgook – John Abineri
Colonel Munro – Andrew Crawford
Alice Munro – Joanna David (Joanna Hacking)
Major Duncan Heyward – Tim Goodman
Magua – Philip Madoc (Phillip Jones)
Cora Munro – Patricia Maynard
Uncas – Richard Warwick (Richard Winter)
General Webb – Noel Coleman
General Montcalm – George Pravda (Jiri Pravda)
Lieutenant Grant – Prentis Hancock
David Gamut – David Leland
Lieutenant Otley – Michael Cullen
Private Jones – Roy Skelton
Staff Major – Ken Haward (Kenneth Barker)
Webb’s Sergeant – Hilary Minster (Roger Minster)
Munro’s Sergeant – Bill Wiesener (William Wiesener)
Munro’s Surgeon – Vernon Joyner
Huron Sagamore – David King
Huron Chief – Terence Brook
Delaware Chief – Michael Lynch
Tamenmund – John Wentworth (Arthur Powell)
Chaperones – Barbara Ashcroft, Audrey Cameron
French soldier – James Snell

The story is based on the intrepid 18th century Indian scout Hawkeye aka Natty Bumppo and his loyal Native American blood brother Chingachook. Set in Canada during the French and Indian Wars, the story found Hawkeye doing his best to safeguard the lives of Colonel Munro, his daughters Cora and Alice, and the other British settlers at Fort William Henry. The fly in the ointment was the villainous, bloodthirsty Indian warrior Magua, who had his own plans for the toothsome Munro girls. In contrast, noble Mohican Uncas hoped to save Alice and especially Cora from the evil Magua, and to bring the Indians and white settlers together in peaceful coexistence.

Filmed in the Scottish Highlands, this rendition of James Fenimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans is the most faithful to the Cooper novel of all of them (and there have been many including the popular 1992 Hollywood version which was markedly different from the novel in many places). Perhaps the next most accurate Last of the Mohicans is the 1920's B&W version - though not nearly as faithful as this Masterpiece Theater piece.

Masterpiece Theater originally presented in in their first year, 1971, as a series of 8 episodes of 45 minutes each and later had a non-Masterpiece Theater version of 13 episodes of about 30 minutes played by a few public TV stations in the mid-1970s. The main difference was the Masterpiece Theater version had an introduction by Alastair Cooke.

The 13 episode version (same as the Masterpiece Theater version except there was no introduction) does exist and has been released on DVD (2007). The producer of this 1971 version (John McRae) says that the BBC destroyed the production masters in about the mid-1970s but he feels it was one of his best efforts and also says that it was nominated for the Emmy at the time (but didn't win).

1 comment:

  1. This was a great series. The BBC also made another good one in the mid 1950s, about early American settlers called Cabin in the Clearing. Long forgotten, and probably not available to see anywhere now.