2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Respect for an old classic,
This review is from: Red River [DVD]  (DVD)
Red River concerns the story of an epic cattle drive. John Wayne portrays Thomas Dunson the ranch owner, and Montgomery Clift portrays Matthew Garth his adopted son. At the heart of the film is the relationship between the two men. Dunsons behaviour as the pressures mount becomes increasingly psychotic and at times murderous. This heads inexorably to a showdown between the two.
Red River has long been a favourite of mine. Yes it has its flaws. Manco is right in that the ending is a little contrived. But then killing off John Wayne was akin to box office suicide at that time. And as with the slightly contrived ending to "The Searchers", the overall picture may have been too bleak for audiences at that time. Studios have this funny idea that films need to make money. Yes Borden Chase the writer was not a happy bunny. I cant say for Alan Le May who wrote "The Searchers" but then writers are often not happy with the screen versions of their work.
That aside lets look at the good points. They far outwigh the bad. Did John Wayne ever give a better performance. Perhaps in "The Searchers" where he ages in a similar way. The film hits all the criteria buttons for a true epic. The scale of the cattle drive and the time spans of the story. The film has been described as a Western version of "mutiny on the Bounty" with Wayne carrying off the Bligh character to good effect. A powerful performance in comparison to the strange casting of Montgomery Clift as Matthew Garth in the Fletcher Christian role. I was never entirely convinced that the effette Clift was capable of taking on the larger than life Wayne. I know who my money would have been on. The cattle drive has never been surpassed and who can dislike the scene where the cattle drive starts. Magnificent and quite rightly paid homage to by Peter Bogdanivich in his film "The Last Picture Show". Howard Hawks the director was at his peak which he maintained with "Rio Bravo". The less said about the later Westerns the better. He definitely fell away from his artistic heights with age. I would also like to mention the excellent supporting cast. John Ireland and Walter Brennan deserving of a special mention.
My recommendation is to buy this film and watch it. It is a film full of what are now iconic images and it is undoubtedly one of the great Westerns. You will yearn to be with them on the Chisholm Trail.