Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Take `em to Missouri, Matt", 23 Mar 2013
This review is from: Red River [DVD] [1949] (DVD)
Howard Hawks` 1948 masterpiece Red River is not just a great western, it`s one of the greatest of American movies.
Hawks, in his lifetime, was seldom accorded the respect and admiration he deserved, at least in his native land (never once nominated for an Oscar, despite excelling in several genres) and it took the French and a few discerning UK critics (such as David Thomson, who waxes lyrical about him whenever he has the chance) to trumpet the man`s worth. He was one of the best directors ever to draw breath.
His sense of composition alone marks him out. He could take your breath away with simply a shot of two men on horses against the sky, or Walter Brennan doling out bad food under a makeshift shelter in the rain.
This is a lengthy saga, in glorious black-and-white, of the many years it takes for Matthew Garth (Montgomery Clift, of all people, in his debut film) to attain his rite of passage into true manhood, and for his mentor Tom Dunson (John Wayne, at 40, and at his intense best) to recognise, forgive, and finally give Matt his own cattle brand.
Or it`s the story of a long, long cattle drive from Texas to Missouri, taking in Indian attacks, mutiny, Dunson`s growing tyranny, and a young lady played with candid sensuality by Joanne Dru (in her best role).
There again, it`s a film of treasurable moments. That pre-dawn calm before the cattle drive begins; Clift and John Ireland comparing gun sizes (oh, sure!) like kids; an arrow piercing Joanne Dru`s shoulder blade, her angry conversation with Matt barely interrupted; the shots of cattle hurling themselves at the camera; the chillingly matter-of-fact way Wayne tells two men "...gonna hang ya".
I could talk about this magnificent film for pages and hours, but you really have to see it (if you haven`t yet) then you`ll want to watch it on a fairly regular basis for the rest of your life.
Wayne was never so frightening (watch out for him as you bed down for the night, never mind the coyotes and snakes!), Clift looks liberated, Dru is just the ticket, Ireland is terrific, and Brennan knows exactly how far to take the mumbling old codger-friend bit. Listen to the ways he tells Dunson "You`re wrong..." and the way he knows how and when to keep quiet - things in the script of course, but things unscripted too.
I love this film more than I can say.

Take `em to Missouri, Matt!
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 20 Apr 2013 16:21:49 BDT
schumann_bg says:
I particularly like the gun-comparing scene - is there any other quite like it?! Your review makes me want to see the film again, you make it sound so necessary! I always like Clift's troubled sensitivity ...

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Apr 2013 17:37:35 BDT
GlynLuke says:
Wayne & Clift must be one of the oddest pairings in film. Worked, though.
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GlynLuke
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Location: York UK

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