'Rio Grande', the last of director John Ford's 'unofficial' Cavalry Trilogy, has often been unfairly judged the 'weakest' of the three westerns. Certainly, it lacks the poetic quality of 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon', or the revisionist view of a thinly-disguised reworking of the events surrounding the death of George Armstrong Custer ('Fort Apache'), but for richness of detail, a sense of the camaraderie of cavalrymen, an 'adult' (in the best sense of the word) love story, and a symbolic 'rejoining' of North and South conclusion that may have you tapping your toe, 'Rio Grande' is hard to beat!
It is remarkable that 'Rio Grande' ever got to the screen; Ford hadn't planned to make it, but in order to get Republic Pictures to agree to his demands for 'The Quiet Man' (he wanted the film to be shot on location in Ireland, and in color), he had to agree to do a 'quickie' western that would turn a quick profit for the usually cash-strapped studio. This is, perhaps, a reason why the film is held in less esteem than it deserves. 'Rio Grande' may have not been born with high expectations, but with John Ford in the director's chair, and John Wayne and the Ford 'family' in the cast and crew, the potential for something 'special' was ALWAYS present!
A few bits of trivia to enhance your viewing pleasure: Yes, that IS Ken Curtis, singing with The Sons of the Pioneers, in the film...while uncredited, he made a favorable impression with Ford, and soon became a part of his 'family'...Ben Johnson, Harry Carey, Jr, and Claude Jarman, Jr, actually did their own stunts while performing the 'Roman Style' riding sequence (Carey said in interviews that they were all young, and didn't think about the danger of it; a production would lose their insurance if they 'allowed' three major performers to do something as risky, today!)...Did you know that O'Hara, playing Jarman's 'mother', was barely 14 years older than her 'son', and was only 29 at the time of the filming?...Harry Carey barely had any lines in the script; most of what you see in the film was ad-libbed!...the popular ditty, 'San Antoine', sung by Jarman, Carey, Johnson, and Curtis, was, in fact, written by Mrs. Roy Rogers, herself, Dale Evans!
Whether you're viewing 'Rio Grande' for the first time, or have sat through many viewings, the film has a richness and sense of nostalgia for a West that 'may never have existed, but SHOULD have'. It would be a proud addition to any collector's library!