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Red River (1948)

John Wayne , Montgomery Clift , Arthur Rosson , Howard Hawks  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (203 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru, Walter Brennan, Coleen Gray
  • Directors: Arthur Rosson, Howard Hawks
  • Writers: Borden Chase, Charles Schnee
  • Producers: Howard Hawks, Charles K. Feldman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: November 19, 1997
  • Run Time: 133 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (203 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6304696612
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,292 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Red River" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

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

Product Description

One of the finest westerns ever made, this "monumental, sweeping and powerful" masterpiece (Variety) features impassioned performances, stunning cinematography and adventure on a grand scale. Starring John Wayne, Montgomery Clift (in his screen debut), Walter Brennan, Harry Carey, Sr. and Noah Beery, Jr., Red River is a hard-hitting, action-packed adventure that captures the grandeur, majestyand dangerof the wild American West.Wayne gives "one of the best performances of his career" (Cinebooks) as Tom Dunson, a self-made cattle baron who'll do anything to protect his way of life. So when plummeting livestock values demand that he drive his herd through thetreacherous Chisholm Trail, Tom proves that he'll risk anything to reach his destination even his own sanity.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
162 of 165 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ***** Movie. ** DVD. October 4, 2003
"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.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Red River is an Epic of Western Filmmaking! June 27, 2005
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Let it be known to one and all: "Red River" is one of the best Western movies of all time! It is a supperlative western film, telling the story of the first cattle drive from Texas to Abeline, Kansas, which would later be known as the Chisholm Trail.

The American West is known for it's rugged individualism, and starring in this epic film is Hollywood's #1 rugged individual, John Wayne. Wayne plays Tom Dunson, who on a wagon trail of settlers going west, decides to strike out on his own for Texas country and establish his own cattle ranch. In leaving the wagon train behind, Dunson also leaves behind the love of his young life, saying he will send for her when he finds his homestead. But that same day, the wagon train is attacked by Indians, and his love is brutally killed. The only survivor of the massacre is a spirited young boy, who is found wandering in a daze with his cow. The boy, Matthew Garth, is adopted by Dunson. The stage is then set for the remainder of the story, the struggle to establish the greatest cattle ranch in Texas, and the massive cattle drive to get the cattle to market.

Howard Hawks directs this masterpiece of filmmaking, and takes Borden Chase's (Saturday Evening Post) serialized storyline, and spins a visual saga of obsession and rivalry between Dunson and and his adoptive son Matthew Garth. The film co-stars Montgomery Clift as Matthew Garth. The cast is very favorably rounded out with the addition of Walter Brennan, Joanne Dru, and John Ireland. The film's musical score by Dimitri Tiomkin is as perfectly composed for the old west as the black and white rendering of the western barren landscape in the film.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ONE OF THE WAYNE'S BEST & MOST NUANCED PERFORMANCES April 17, 2006

"RED RIVER" depicts Capitalism and Rugged Individualism with maximum human stress added, resembling a "Mutiny On The Bounty" culminating during a desperate cattle drive along the "Red River". By no means is this film any less dramatic or hard-hitting for having been made in the Western genre.


It was Wayne's and Hawks' first collaboration [1948]. It went a million dollars over budget, costing 4 million dollars, and it introduced Montgomery Cliff in a leading role. There were nominations and awards received:

Best Editing (nom) Christian Nyby 1948 Academy
Best Story (nom) Borden Chase 1948 Academy
Best Director (nom) Howard Hawks 1948 Directors Guild of America
U.S. National Film Registry (win) 1989 Library of Congress

But most of all, we see the Duke in a very nuanced and unexpectedly complex role where things are going far from right from the get-go. Sure, he's a hero, but he's not a simple or predictable one. His dark side is very near the surface and the kind of stress that a desperate cattle drive raises presses everyone to his limit. The results are -- "RED RIVER"!


Throughout the film, virtually every scene has major hurdles for our characters to overcome, especially Wayne, and they are going to have to deal with these hurdles like human beings -- NOT GOD-LIKE ICONS. In essence, there are no short cuts for the cast in the way of simple and expected outcomes. This makes the film AWESOME during every one of its 133 minutes. The rare dark side seen of Wayne is shocking in its unusual and mostly [until the finale] unsentimental excellence. WOW!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
Couldn't resist the temptation! Threw my old DVD copy away to upgrade to this superb Criterion Collection edition. Great Howard Hawks western that never ages. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Anthony McGill
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
goof quality
Published 3 days ago by Robert W Marcotte
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
good movie
Published 4 days ago by Lurch 57
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent movie! Filmed in Elgin Arizona
Excellent movie ! Filmed in Elgin Arizona. Ending is a bit corny but movie is still 5 stars !
Published 5 days ago by BASIAMAN
5.0 out of 5 stars Riding the Trail with an American Classic
I don't know what else you can say about this movie - it is an epic of the old west and the code of the American cowboy. Read more
Published 9 days ago by micki 2
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a great western and Wayne does a good job playing Dunson ...
Red River is not your typical John Wayne western. Wayne is Tom Dunson a Rancher who moved to Texas 14 years be most of the action takes place. Read more
Published 11 days ago by Bwhami
5.0 out of 5 stars which builds up to a great ending!
Duke classic, which builds up to a great ending!
Published 16 days ago by Spence Adcock
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 16 days ago by Rick
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Always one of the best John Wayne movies
Published 17 days ago by charles mcdine
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great movie! I love almost all of John Wayne's movies!
Published 22 days ago by Lynn Bee
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