2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ***** Movie. ** DVD.
"Red River" deserves the adulation that critics, film scholars, and most importantly audiences have lavished on it since its premiere in 1948. One of the earliest "psychological" westerns, preceded by Selznick's "Duel in the Sun" (1946) and followed by King's "The Gunfighter" (1950), etc., "Red River" maintains interest...
Published on Oct. 4 2003 by J. Michael Click
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic "Duke"
The movie is a great old western, typical Duke stuff. Terrific supporting cast, including Montgomery Clift's debut. The package advertises a 4 page booklet but that was not included. The quality is a bit rough, a number of scratchy marks on some scenes. I was disappointed in the product, not the movie.
Published on July 9 2009 by K. Hollingshead
Most Helpful First | Newest First
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ***** Movie. ** DVD.,
This review is from: Red River (Full Screen) (DVD)"Red River" deserves the adulation that critics, film scholars, and most importantly audiences have lavished on it since its premiere in 1948. One of the earliest "psychological" westerns, preceded by Selznick's "Duel in the Sun" (1946) and followed by King's "The Gunfighter" (1950), etc., "Red River" maintains interest after half a century due to the unique tensions between its characters, and the supreme skill with which those characters are played. Set against the backdrop of the first cattle drive along the Chisum Trail, the story basically boils down to an epic conflict between two men of different generations. John Wayne is the older sharp-shooter who builds up an empire through ruthless wiles and steely determination; Montgomery Clift, who is equally proficient with a gun, is the young surrogate son who tends to manage through intellect and reason rather than violence. These two opposing personalities and styles eventually erupt into a mortal combat under the strain of driving over 9,000 head of cattle across the hostile terrain of Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.
As the volatile Dunson, John Wayne gives one of his most finely nuanced performances. Living by a personal code of ethics which doesn't always translate into lawful or even rational behavior, Wayne is neither sympathetic nor deplorable; he's simply human. His performance is bolstered by the contrast provided by the quietly charasmatic Montgomery Clift, whose unspoken love and respect for Wayne's father figure shine through the fear and intimidation he expresses. (Remarkably, this was Clift's first performance in front of the movie cameras; the stage-trained actor seems to have adapted instinctively to the more subtle technique required of film work.) Various other characters come between these two to create some memorable triangles throughout the film. Three-time Oscar winner Walter Brennan is wonderful as Wayne's longtime sidekick whose allegiance eventually shifts over to Clift; Paul Fix also does a fine job in a minor role as the character whose fate jumpstarts the conflict between the two leading men. Most fascinating among the supporting cast is John Ireland who plays the curiously-named Cherry; the Freudian scene in which he and Clift admire each other's pistols, and then commence to shoot them off together is simply astonishing. It's worth noting that Cherry is the first one to try and intervene during the climactic showdown between Wayne and the "son" he contemptuously characterizes as "soft"; equally significant is the fact that the character who finally brings resolution into the movie is a "strong" woman (played by Joanne Dru).
The MGM DVD release of this classic United Artists film is, in my humble opinion, abominable. The source print is visually a disaster, chock full of lines, jumps, flutters, speckles, and other visual noise. The grays are grainy and at one point, the picture even is briefly - and distractingly - out of focus. The sound isn't much better: it crackles and pops and the volume is inconsistent. Adding insult to injury, there are no extras at all, not even cast biographies or production notes, much less a theatrical trailer. This is one classic film that demands - and richly deserves - to be restored, remastered and repackaged.
5.0 out of 5 stars An old time favourite,
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Red River (Full Screen) (DVD)This is one of my husband's old time favourites, and he really loves John Wayne in anything. A great old time movie.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Mutiny on the plains,
This review is from: Red River (Full Screen) (DVD)Howard Hawks' 1948 RED RIVER is an ambitious, sprawling, epic western. It's on a number of top-100 lists, and it belongs there.
The movie tells the story of cattle rancher Tom Dunson and the first drive along the fabled Chisholm Trail. It's based on Borden Chase's "The Chisholm Trail"
The movie hits the ground running. Within the first five minutes there's a romantic leave taking, an indian attack and a burning wagon train. The romantic parting of Dunson (John Wayne) and his intended is a key incident in the development of this bitter and hard-driven character. Dunson and Groot Nadine (Walter Brennan), who left the wagon train with Dunson, are joined by a survivor of the massacre, Matt Garth - who, fourteen years later, will become the quick-drawing Montgomery Clift. The shocked boy is leading a cow, Dunson and Groot have a surviving bull, and with this bovine first couple they make for the open land south of the Red River.
Fast forward 14 years and Dunson has 10,000 head of cattle and a depressed, post-Civil War southern economy that can't afford to buy them. They must drive them to Missouri and sell them to the more prosperous northerners or face ruin. During that drive Dunson descends to near insanity and Matt ascends as a moderating influence and, apparently, becomes the only one who can successfully lead the men and cattle to market. Without giving too much away, something happens on the drive that will drastically change Dunson's and Matt's relationship and jeopardize both of their lives.
It's pretty heavy stuff, and John Wayne is rock solid great as the troubled Dunson. This is one of the greatest roles in the career of a sometimes under-rated actor. Montgomery Clift is fine in his screen debut.
Walter Brennan's Groot is a marvel. That guy was such a good actor. Like all good sidekicks, and Brennan was the best, Groot is part court jester and part moral barometer. It helps that he plays most of the movie without his upper teeth in, too. Brennan was always better when his mouth was half empty.
There are some images that will stick with you for a while. Thousands of cattle crossing the Red River, a midnight stampede with a couple of hair-raising rescues. And there's a neat little bit with an angry John Wayne striding down a long street crowded with cattle - Wayne doesn't break stride, of course, and the cattle move out of his way like a longhorn Red Sea parting for an angry Moses.
For the most part the script is well written, and there's enough amusing scenes (usually including Brennan) to keep the whole thing from collapsing under it's own weight.
For instance, when Dunson and Matt are deciding who's to go along on the drive, Dunson excludes Groot (bum leg.) Groot mutters to himself like a live-action Popeye while Dunson and Matt continue their conversation. A distracted and exasperated Dunson finally says:
Dunson: What are you saying? I can't understand you. Where's your store teeth Matt bought you?
Groot: They're in my pocket.
Dunson: Well, why don't you use them?
Groot: 'Cause they whistle. I use them for eating.
Then there's the Joanne Dru character, Tess Millay. It doesn't help that her first appearance occurs in the third scene. One hour and forty-one minutes into the 2:20 movie, by my clock. My guess is the scriptwriters didn't want to clutter up the action with a romantic subplot until absolutely necessary. Fair enough, but it means that Millay's and Matt's romance has to be telescoped severely. Basically they meet, fall in love, and part in a day. It stretches an audience some. Worse, Dru as an actress simply wasn't right for the part.
4.0 out of 5 stars Quality Western,
This review is from: Red River (Full Screen) (DVD)This is a quality western with a little bit of everything that makes a quality western.
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic "Duke",
This review is from: Red River (Full Screen) (DVD)The movie is a great old western, typical Duke stuff. Terrific supporting cast, including Montgomery Clift's debut. The package advertises a 4 page booklet but that was not included. The quality is a bit rough, a number of scratchy marks on some scenes. I was disappointed in the product, not the movie.
5.0 out of 5 stars Black and white sensation!,
This review is from: Red River (Full Screen) (DVD)John Wayne's Red River is one of the most exciting and classical westerns of our century. So, if somebody hates black and white, screw them, it's their problem. Don't even review the product, genius! Alongside The Searchers, this is one of the Duke's landmark films. Also, John Wayne was our ultimate hero, prevailing in every gunfight and every story. His acting AND his strength certainly prevail here. Also filled with action packed gunfights and suspenseful scenes. The ending is fine.
The DVD transfer is nothing special, and somewhat grainy at times. MGM DVDS are not known to be the best DVD makers on the market. To shape up this classic western, expect a Criterion Collection re release and enjoy!
5.0 out of 5 stars An American Treasure,
This review is from: Red River (Full Screen) (DVD)In the rich history of American film, this piece of work by Howard Hawks makes the short list. It has been used as a template for any filmmaker wishing to make a Western, and further, it is one of those rare pieces of culture by which a society defines itself. If you needed to demonstrate to a foreigner what the American character is all about, you could show them this movie.
As a Western, it certainly has it all: cowboys killing Indians, men leaving women for the call of the trail, gunfights, stampedes, love, betrayal, and finally redemption. It is also gorgeously filmed, beautifully written, and well acted throughout. And finally, it stars John Wayne, an actor that towers over today's crop of male actors like an oak over weeping willows.
This film also stars Montgomery Clift as the surrogate son that eventually challenges Wayne for control of the drive. In terms of acting styles, Clift and Wayne were about as different as two actors could be: Wayne seemed always to act on instinct and charisma, while Clift was one of the young Turks through the 40's and 50's, a proponent of a new style of acting - the method developed by Lee Strasburg (one can easily imagine Wayne giving his crooked sarcastic grin over the very idea of a "school" where young people learn acting). Yet, casting these two together works. By all reports, the two hated each other at the beginning of the production, but had developed an actor's respect for one another by the end of filming. Wayne, after watching Clift in one of his scenes, was quoted as saying something like "damn, that little queer sure can act."
John Wayne, for his part, goes toe-to-toe with the new school of internal acting and more than holds his own. His portrayal of a powerful, unbending man who slowly descends into bitterness and hate is a real treat to watch. His performance was, to use a phrase Wayne would have hated, multi-layered and very, very skillful.
Other performances to watch: the ever-faithful Walter Brennan, one of the greatest character actors of all time, is perfect as Wayne's partner/friend. It is in watching Brennan's reaction to Wayne's increasing dementia that we see how far off track he's gone. John Ireland also is a standout as Cherry Valance, the pistoleer, who is full of casual grace and menace. As if all the above wasn't enough, the great Harry Carey is onboard briefly as Mr. Melville, radiating authority.
Every film lover should own this film and watch it at least once annually.
Every American should treasure it as a source of national pride.
One note: this is one film that simply demands a better DVD treatment. The picture and sound isn't bad, but it isn't widescreen, and there are absolutely no special features. C'mon, Criterion Collections, where are you? --Mykal
4.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, But Still An Essential, Classic Western,
This review is from: Red River (Full Screen) (DVD)One of the handful of timeless Westerns that essentially changed public expectations of the genre. The script and characters were unique for its day, when most Westerns had fallen prey to strict, good-guys-in-white-hats formulas, thus paving the way for for the likes of "High Noon" and "Shane". Wayne's and Brennan's performances are standouts by any measure, and the supporting cast of many John Ford-MGM stalwarts is equal to the task (you even find unique appearances by father-and-son veterans Harry Carey and Carey Jr, not to mention some B-Western bad guys from the Republic lot given a chance to do some real acting). Despite the contrived and awkward ending, the story and characters are riveting and exceptionally engrossing. Director Hawks seems to have had a field day here, as the production values are superb, especially for a western. The only obvious downside (and this is strictly a personal bias) is the shuffle-and-mumble Method techniques of Montgomery Clift, whose acting here and in later years remained somewhat contrived and stilted. As for that old standby, John Ireland, he reveals a more natural style that only highlights Clift's somewhat affected effort in the scenes they share. The ending aside, this is one of those classics that can be watched again and again to reveal new detail with each viewing. The DVD is a bit murky in spots, but it does convey the gritty, nearly film-noir visual style of the original. I was a kid when I saw the film's initial release. It's as impressive today as it was then. get it!
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Western (if you ignore the last 5 minutes),
By A Customer
This review is from: Red River (Full Screen) (DVD)Red River is certainly an epic, but it unravels at the end. I want give anything away if you've never seen it, but COME ON! At the last second a minor character comes in and throws a big melodramatic wrench into this classic and ruins what could have been (and should have been) a stunning finish. Boo!
5.0 out of 5 stars Red River,
This review is from: Red River (VHS Tape)John Wayne at his best in the wonderful old time western. One of my favs.! He has made a lot of great movies but this one is what I consider one of his better ones!
Most Helpful First | Newest First
Red River (Full Screen) by Howard Hawks (DVD - 2003)