Learn more Download now Shop now Browse your favorite restaurants Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Shop now Learn more

Red River [DVD] [1949]
Format: DVD|Change
Price:£13.54+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

TOP 50 REVIEWERon 24 March 2015
It has been said that this is a Western for people who don't like Westerns - as well as being one of the greatest for those that do - and it would indeed be hard not to be swept along by this epic road movie before roads were part of the US landscape. Into the story of how 9000 cattle were driven from Texas to Abilene, Kansas, there to be sold to a beef merchant, Howard Hawks has woven a tale of a group of men, of two women left behind who continue to affect the action in the most fundamental ways, of a surrogate father-son relationship. It all gels fantastically, bringing in episodes including a stampede, attack by Indians, desertion, shootings, mutiny, falling in love - it's all in there. John Wayne is very well cast as Tom Dunson, a man who spent 14 years building his cattle stock only to discover no one will buy beef in Texas following the American Civil War. His adopted son Matt, whom he took under his wing as a teenager, has come back from fighting for the Southern cause, and with Groot, his commonsensical right-hand man, they hire a number of other local men, including Cherry Valance, the best shot this side of San Diego, it seems. The banter between the two younger men is fairly electric and hints at certain ambiguities, starting with the famous scene where they compare guns. Given that both actors are very good-looking (Montgomery Clift and John Ireland), this is very effective. When Joanne Dru appears, and immediately gets an arrow through her shoulder (which she takes in her stride), who is also quite a looker, you feel all the archetypes are somehow in place, and we could be in some kind of myth.

The heart of the film, though, is the rapport between Wayne and Clift. It has touches of Abraham and Isaac, I felt, with the proud, unbending father sure of his rightness and lacking all sense of proportion. But it can very plausibly be given a Freudian reading also, suggesting that it can be read at different levels. At all events, it makes it a rollicking yarn where the depths are stirred. All along the cattle go forward like the Red River itself, the swirls of dust being like so much psychological fallout from these incredibly charged and vivid interactions. In addition it has some fantastic scenery, even shot in 4:3, and the music is very effective, both energised and plaintive as needed, and very American in feel.
1010 Comments| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 13 February 2016
Wonderful cinematography and great performances. The blu ray transfer gives very satisfying results.
This is certainly one of the grittier westerns as well as being a cowboy film that actually includes cattle as part of the plot. The film is presented in 4:3 ratio and features a great supporting cast. John Wayne's character is similar to the one in 'The Sands of Iwo Jima' a tough uncompromising man who's hardness alienates his troops. The conflict centers around two men and their conflicting ideas and outlook on life, Wayne is pragmatic, cynical and unforgiving the other is more idealistic and kind. The romance stuff at the end felt a little forced but other than that this is a fine film.

The Masters of Cinema Blu Ray also comes packed with special features as well as a very fine transfer of the theatrical version of the film.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 6 July 2015
I always liked this great classic and recently I was pleased to see that it didn't age a bit. It was and still is one of the greatest westerns ever made and it remains a GREAT WATCH! Below, more of my impressions, with some LIMITED SPOILERS.

PRECISION: this is the review of the 2000 Region 2 DVD, not the recent Masters of Cinema Blu-ray.

The film begins in 1851 with Thomas Dunson (John Wayne) and his trail companion/hired hand, Nadine Groot (Walter Brennan) travelling to Texas. They are dirt poor and other than their clothes and guns they own only one wagon and one head of cattle, a healthy bull. Quite quickly in the film they meet a boy, Matthew Garth, who lost his family and all his belongings, except for one cow. Then we go all the way to 1865, when Matthew is already all grown (he is from that moment played by Montgomery Clift). Together, he and Dunson own a gigantic herd of cattle but Texas is so ruined by the war and so oppressed by war profiteering carpetbaggers that there is no buyer for all this beef.

Completely broke, Dunson decides at that moment to do something unprecedented and in fact quite desperate, namely drive his gigantic herd north, all the way to Missouri. That means a thousand miles trek, which will take a minimum of two months and a half – if they are very lucky… And on the way there will be "dry country, dry wells when we get to 'em. There'll be wind, rain. There's gonna be Indian Territory - how bad I don't know. When we get to Missouri, there'll be border gangs. It's gonna be a fight all the way."… And once this speech made, the film really begins…

The scenario of this film is actually greatly inspired by the Bible, mostly the Exodus but also the Book of Joshua, some New Testament and of course there is the Snake – always present… The Book of Joshua (the conquest of Canaan) came immediately to my mind when we are told how Dunson acquired his ranch and his land. The great cattle drive is a modern re-telling of Exodus, as Dunson and his companions suffer misery and hardship in their land and making this deadly trip to the north is the only way for them to recover their freedom and dignity. The Red River which they must cross on their way is quite obviously the equivalent of the Red Sea. On the way Dunson becomes more and more a Moise-like patriarch, an authoritarian man driven by certitude and showing no mercy to himself or others. Another similarity with Exodus is the dissension appearing amongst his followers, exactly like during Hebrews wanderings in the desert.

There is however also New Testament included in this story and in fact the film ultimately becomes a debate between the Old and New Alliance. Dunson is an Old Testament patriarch, who believes that when people enter a covenant of their free will, they must respect the terms to the end and the price for openly breaking it is death – this terrible, merciless justice he is ready to apply indifferently to companions, loved ones and himself. Matthew Garth, a tough and rough frontier man himself, is nevertheless a more Christian character – he admits that when people break the covenant not for profit or lack of honour but only because their suffering is unbearable, forgiveness rather than punishment must be the solution. Still in accordance with the New Testament, his vision of leadership is to hear the suffering of his people and answer with flexibility of charity, rather than with merciless sternness. The film doesn't openly take sides in the debate – both visions are honourable and they are in fact ultimately shown as complementary rather than antagonistic, exactly like the Old and New Testament complete one another.

Another Biblical element is the presence of the Snake, the great facilitator of all kind of mischief, conflict and violence, who appears quite early in the film as Cherry Valance, a hired hand with a shady past and a terrific reputation of gunfighter. This secondary but important character is played very well by John Ireland, a man gifted with a very masculine handsomeness mixed with a little bit of danger – which is a perfect mix to play a somehow devilish character and also to get the best girls (he married in 1949 Joanne Dru, the main female star of this film). On the surface of the things Cherry Valance is always obedient, does his job well, obeys orders and is loyal to his friends – but in the same time he always ends by making things worse…

The initial scenario of "Red River" was even darker and more tragic, and especially Cherry Valance's character was more significant and the evil he caused was greater, but ultimately both Howard Hawks and the producers took fear and decided at the last minute to smooth the things a little. This is the reason why the very ending of this film is the only moment slightly weaker than the rest. The scenario is however still very, very good.

This is one of the films in which John Wayne shined the most, as his role is definitely different from anything else he ever played – and he aced it! After seeing John Wayne's performance in "Red River" John Ford famously said: "I never knew the big son of a (-----) could act."…))) Montgomery Clift, for whom it was the FIRST ROLE, shows here one of the most impressive debuts EVER! Veteran actor Walter Brennan provides great fun in every single scene in which he appears, and there is also a short appearance by Harry Carey, the legend of old westerns, for whom it was the penultimate role in an amazing career, began in 1909 (!)…

On another hand, the only significant female character, Tess Millay (Joanne Dru), is ultimately not so great. I almost had the impression that Howard Hawks couldn't quite make his mind about Tess and as result she is a patchwork of different ideas rather than one character. In one scene she is proud and courageous, in another she is begging and whining. In one scene she cannot shoot straight, immediately after she is Annie Oakley. Etc., etc. But as her role is ultimately secondary (she appears late) it doesn't damage this film too much.

Even with the small weakness at the very ending and with a rather unsatisfying main female character, this film is still AMAZINGLY GOOD, extremely powerful, in many moments very moving, frequently tragic but also containing wonderful humour – and it is worth reminding here, that is was Howard Hawks FIRST WESTERN! The beauty of the film is greatly increased by the music composed by great Dimitri Tiomkin in person and one of the themes was later transformed into the legendary "My rifle, my pony and me" song from "Rio Bravo".

I love this film, I am certainly going to watch it again and I am so keeping my DVD. A recommended viewing! ENJOY!
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 June 2012
Tom Dunson is a self made cattle baron, he will do what ever it takes to protect the life he has made for himself. The constant fall in the value of livestock means that Tom, and his adopted son Matthew, must drive the gathered herd thru the perilous Chisholm Trail, and then hope to get good value for the beef. With their assembled group of hands they head off North, but many problems will come their way, not least, a fallout due to Dunson's tyrannical ways, meaning there could well be mutiny on the range.

Without a shadow of doubt, Red River is one of the greatest Westerns ever made, boasting incredible performances from the cast, directed with sumptuous skill by Howard Hawks and photographed as good as any film in the genre. Based on the novel, The Chisholm Trail written by Borden Chase (also co writing duties for the film), Red River is a sweeping spectacle that doesn't have a frame that's wasted. Hawks (this his first Western) frames his wonderfully vivid characters in lush expansive landscapes, fleshing them out amongst the constant stream of drama and action. Tho Chase would be annoyed at the changes Hawks made to the story, he surely would have marvelled at the finished product, with Harlan's photography in and around Arizona's locales capturing a cowboys terrain expertly and Dimitri Tiomkin's score stirring the blood and pumping the viewer with Cowboy adrenaline.

If anyone doubts John Wayne as an actor of note then they need look no further than his performance here as Dunson. Tough and durable in essence the character is, but Wayne manages to fuse those traits with a believable earthy determination that layers the character perfectly. With Wayne all the way, matching him stride for stride, is Montgomery Clift as Matthew Garth, sensitive without being overly so, it's the perfect foil to Wayne's machismo showing. Walter Brennan and John Ireland also shine bright in support, while a special mention has to go to a wonderful turn from Joanne Dru as Tess Millay; Howard Hawks' CV shows a ream of strong female characters, and here Dru firmly puts herself in amongst the best of them; check out her first appearance alongside Clift, it's precious.

Red River made a fortune upon its release, it was revered by the critics back then, and it's still being revered today. Rightly so, because it is quite simply magic cinema, a case where everything comes together perfectly, it's in short, a film that even none Western fans should be able to marvel at as entertainment, or at the very least give credit to the Tech accomplishments on offer. 10/10
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 7 August 2015
They say it's a classic and so there are good and bad guys and a certain trust in pioneers and cowboys. Yet it's actually a more complex film, where peope are often weak, there is not always need for action and gripping rhythm, so you get a lot of tension based in dialogue, suspended scenes (the fantastic night scene where cowboys confront one another, and some ambiguity in the characters that makes this film more than just a well done classic. Western by Hawks is a place for men, simple men made of basic instincts, and not always transparent motifs.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 6 December 2013
I agree with other opinions about this great film however I need to add a comment about the "video conversation".
"The Masters Of Cinema Series" made an extra which consisted of 2 men {Don Sallit & Jaime N. Christley}
seated in front of an unlit fireplace with a camera focused on them both,
I found this to be soooooo boring and adds very little to the film.
To add commentary to a film, I found this is usually done with the film in motion, not the way these 2 men perform
with a seemingly endless talkfest which goes on and on and on in no particular direction, and with no way for the viewer
to escape until it ends, perhaps it was their way of getting 5 hours of fame {it seemed like that long anyway}.
However the other extra from the 'Lux Radio Theatre' from March 7 1949, with John Wayne... Walter Brennan...Joanne Dru
reprising their roles was a welcome addition.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 24 August 2013
I agree with reviewer Ralf Bader but will give the dvd 4 stars because the film itself is 5 stars and surely doesn't deserve less. I usually see other reviews where there's a complaint about the quality of the picture or the sound or anything else and often feel it's over-reaction. But...... they should have paid much more attention to the production of this dvd. It's a shame and hopefully a new remastered version will surface soon. Having said all this please do not let it put you off from buying the dvd as it is one of the best westerns ever made. Great performance by John Wayne. I was really impressed by Clift too. Maybe it's not his type of role but he does a great job especially considering it's his first film.
11 Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 14 October 2013
A tremendous movie about the old west. Even though it is black and white it is still worth watching. A good solid story, about the forging of the Chisholm Trail from Texas to Kansas and the east/west railroad. Some marvellous photography. Even without the benefit of CGI the number of cattle especially in the stampede looks awesome. If you like westerns this must not be missed. Highly recommended! [See also my review of the Blu-ray version]
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 20 January 2014
This fine duster, in the way of old, is a great launch vehicle for Montgpmery Clift's movie career. In the established tradition of such films it is top drawer. If you know your guns etc it is technically flawed, but hey, so is The Wizard of Oz" For western movie buffs this film in blu ray format should be a part of your collection.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 24 August 2017
Another side to John Wayne in this one a powerful story. Montgomery Cliff plays an excellent part with Joanne Dru providing the light romance.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)