Any short list of the all-time greatest Westerns is bound to include this 1948 Howard Hawks classic about an epic cattle drive. Red River
features one of John Wayne's greatest performances. Like his Ethan Edwards in John Ford's 1956 masterpiece The Searchers
, the Duke plays an isolated and unsympathetic man who is possessed by bitterness. Wayne is Texas rancher Tom Dunson, who adopts a young boy orphaned in an Indian massacre. That boy, Matthew Garth (played as an adult by Montgomery Clift in his screen debut), becomes Dunson's assistant and heir apparent--until Dunson's temper gets out of control during a long cattle drive and Matt intervenes to stop him. From that moment on, Dunson swears he will kill Matt. Red River
has everything a great Western ought to have: a sweeping sense of history, spectacular landscapes, stampedes, gunfights, Indian attacks, and, of course, Walter Brennan as Dunson's crusty old cook and comic sidekick, Nadine Groot. As a special bonus, the film also features the legendary Harry Carey (upon whom Wayne would base some of his gestures in The Searchers
) and his son Harry Carey Jr., who became a fixture in Ford and Hawks Westerns. Red River
is essential for anyone who loves Westerns, or movies in general. This one's a real beaut. --Jim Emerson
New 4K digital restoration of the rarely presented original theatrical release version, the preferred cut of director Howard Hawks, with monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. 2K restoration of the longer version of Red River. New interview with filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich about Red River and the two versions. New interview with critic Molly Haskell about Hawks and Red River. New interview with western scholar Lee Clark Mitchell about western genre literature. Audio excerpts of a 1972 conversation between Hawks and Bogdanovich. Excerpts from a 1970 audio interview with novelist and screenwriter Borden Chase, PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien and a 1991 interview with Hawks’s longtime editor Christian Nyby; a new paperback edition of Chase’s original novel, previously out of print.