142 of 147 people found the following review helpful
'Rio Grande', the last of director John Ford's 'unofficial' Cavalry Trilogy, has often been unfairly judged the 'weakest' of the three westerns. Certainly, it lacks the poetic quality of 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon', or the revisionist view of a thinly-disguised reworking of the events surrounding the death of George Armstrong Custer ('Fort Apache'), but for richness of detail, a sense of the camaraderie of cavalrymen, an 'adult' (in the best sense of the word) love story, and a symbolic 'rejoining' of North and South conclusion that may have you tapping your toe, 'Rio Grande' is hard to beat!
It is remarkable that 'Rio Grande' ever got to the screen; Ford hadn't planned to make it, but in order to get Republic Pictures to agree to his demands for 'The Quiet Man' (he wanted the film to be shot on location in Ireland, and in color), he had to agree to do a 'quickie' western that would turn a quick profit for the usually cash-strapped studio. This is, perhaps, a reason why the film is held in less esteem than it deserves. 'Rio Grande' may have not been born with high expectations, but with John Ford in the director's chair, and John Wayne and the Ford 'family' in the cast and crew, the potential for something 'special' was ALWAYS present!
A few bits of trivia to enhance your viewing pleasure: Yes, that IS Ken Curtis, singing with The Sons of the Pioneers, in the film...while uncredited, he made a favorable impression with Ford, and soon became a part of his 'family'...Ben Johnson, Harry Carey, Jr, and Claude Jarman, Jr, actually did their own stunts while performing the 'Roman Style' riding sequence (Carey said in interviews that they were all young, and didn't think about the danger of it; a production would lose their insurance if they 'allowed' three major performers to do something as risky, today!)...Did you know that O'Hara, playing Jarman's 'mother', was barely 14 years older than her 'son', and was only 29 at the time of the filming?...Harry Carey barely had any lines in the script; most of what you see in the film was ad-libbed!...the popular ditty, 'San Antoine', sung by Jarman, Carey, Johnson, and Curtis, was, in fact, written by Mrs. Roy Rogers, herself, Dale Evans!
Whether you're viewing 'Rio Grande' for the first time, or have sat through many viewings, the film has a richness and sense of nostalgia for a West that 'may never have existed, but SHOULD have'. It would be a proud addition to any collector's library!
55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 1999
Rio Grande, shot in glorious black and white, is in a way the most colorful of the three cavalry movies that John Ford made with John Wayne. As in "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon" Wayne is in the starring role but a fetchingly mature Maureen O'Hara is able to hold her own with Wayne and become as powerful a figure in the story. Much of the fun of watching this picture is the on screen chemistry of Wayne and O'Hara, they are totally believable as lovers and as equals. It must be duly noted that they are supported by the John Ford stock company and they are seldom showcased as well as this. Of particular note are superb efforts by Harry Carey, and Ben Johnson who carry their parts in an easy and natural style, and Victor Mclaglen who reprises his Sgt. Quincanon from "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon". The DVD edition was digitized from the original negative and it is indeed beautiful. The soundtrack is also clear although a trifle shrill at times. Wayne, with mustache and crumpled hat never looked better, Victor Young's score is rousing, and Ford is at his sentimental and poignant best in this "must see" western classic.
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2001
This film marks the first of five films that John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara made together. Once John Ford got a somewhat reluctant Republic mogul Herbert Yates to agree to produce his long-time dream "The Quiet Man" - Yates added a "condition." That condition was that the same team, Maureen O'Hara, Duke Wayne, do a western film first, to make up for the money he anticipated 'losing' on "The Quiet Man."
Yates must have had to eat a lot of crow because not only was "Rio Grande" a box office success, but "The Quiet Man" went on to become an all-time classic masterpiece. "Rio Grande" is an exceptionally wonderful film, and I feel is equal to "The Quiet Man" in it's own genre (Calvalry/western). It is romantic, sensitive, full of action, and everything you would expect from hero John Wayne...and his lovely lady, Maureen O'Hara - plus a happy ending.
This is a subject close to my heart because I maintain a website on Ms. O'Hara and have interviewed her, as well as many of her peers, including Harry Carey, Jr., Anna Lee and John Agar. The chemistry of O'Hara and Wayne in itself is an interesting study and long underrated by Hollywood historians....
60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
This is the third of Ford's films which focus on the U.S. Cavalry and its violent encounters with the Apache. Wayne's role in each is quite different. He is a subordinate officer in Fort Apache, a commanding officer about to retire in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and again a commanding officer in this film but estranged from his wife Kathleen (Maureen O'Hara), and son Jeff (Claude Jarman, Jr.) among the men he commands. Lieutenant Kirby Yorke (Wayne) resembles Woodrow F. Call in Lonesome Dove (played by Tommy Lee Jones) who refuses to show any favoritism or even affection whatsoever to his son. (In fact, Call denies his fatherhood.) Of course, Ford ensures that husband and wife are reunited by the end of the film; also, that father and son become close after Trooper Yorke plays a key role in helping to rescue children captured by the Apache and thereby earns his commanding officer's (and father's) respect. A similar relationship exists in Red River except that the conflict is resolved without a brawl. Personally, I would have preferred less reliance on Irish ballads, the focus on Yorke's marital conflicts, and what I view as the macho element of which Ford was so fond. Nonetheless, Wayne's performance is outstanding and the sequence by which the children is rescued is brilliantly portrayed. In additional to much improved sound and image, this DVD version also offers several excellent supplementary features which include a scene-specific commentary with Maureen O'Hara, a mini-documentary "Along the Rio Grande with Maureen O'Hara," and "The Making of Rio Grande" hosted by Leonard Maltin.
46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2008
Rio Grande is a 1950 western film and the third installment of John Ford's "cavalry trilogy", following two RKO Pictures releases: Fort Apache (1948) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949).
John Wayne stars in all three films, as Captain Kirby Yorke in Fort Apache, then as Captain of Cavalry Nathan Cutting Brittles in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and finally as a promoted Lieutenant Colonel Kirby Yorke in Rio Grande (the York/Yorke character's last name was spelled slightly differently in Fort Apache and Rio Grande).
The film is based on a short story "Mission With No Record" by James Warner Bellah, that appeared in the The Saturday Evening Post on September 27, 1947, and the screenplay was written by James Kevin McGuinness.Ford wanted to make The Quiet Man first, but Republic Pictures studio president Herbert Yates, insisted that Ford make Rio Grande first, using the same combination of Wayne and Maureen O'Hara; Yates did not feel that the script of The Quiet Man was very good, and wanted Rio Grande to be released first to pay for The Quiet Man. (To Yates's surprise The Quiet Man, on its eventual release in 1952, would become Republic's number one film in terms of box office receipts
The film was shot in Monument Valley, and other locations in southeastern Utah around the town of Moab and along the Colorado River.
In Rio Grande, Colonel Yorke is posted on the frontier to defend settlers against hostile Apaches. Col. Yorke is under considerable stress between the Apaches and the young-raw recruits sent to the post-in numbers far inadequate to the needs of his command.
Tension is added when Yorke's son (whom he hasn't seen in fifteen years), Trooper Jeff Yorke (Claude Jarman Jr.), is posted to the fort. Not wanting the other men to think he is favoring his son, he ends up being harder on him. Jeff is watched over by a pair of more seasoned troopers, Tyree (Ben Johnson) and Boone (Harry Carey Jr.).
With the arrival of the estranged Mrs. Kathleen Yorke (Maureen O'Hara) who has come to take the under-age Yorke home with her, even more tension is added. The Colonel and Mrs. Yorke figure out it would be best to let young Jeff grow up and make the decision whether to stay or leave for himself; he chooses to stay. The tension brought about in the fight for their son rekindles the love they once had for each other.
Yorke is visited by his former Civil War commander, Philip Sheridan (J. Carrol Naish), now Chief General of Army. Sheridan has decided to order Yorke to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico, an action with grave political problems since it could well be seen as an act of war against Mexico.
If Yorke fails in his mission to destroy the Apache threat he faces the threat of court-martial. Sheridan, in a quiet act of acknowledgment of what he is asking Yorke to risk, promises that the members of the court will be men who rode with Yorke through the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War. Yorke accepts the mission. Now Col. Yorke must fight to save, and put back together, his family and his honor.
Some aspects of the story, notably the regiment's crossing into Mexico, and undertaking a campaign there, loosely resemble the expedition conducted by the 4th Cavalry Regiment (United States) under Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie in 1873.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2005
I love this movie - Maureen O'Hara never looked prettier and John Wayne is his outstanding macho self. Wayne had to complete The Quiet Man in Ireland in order to do this film and John 'Pappy' Ford made exceptionally effective use of the Monument Valley locations. The added bonus is the music of Stan Jones and the Sons of the Pioneers, the number one western music group of all time. Stan (who wrote the classic "(Ghost) Riders in the Sky") wrote almost all the music, also has a speaking role, as does Ken Curtis, the Pioneers' lead singer and who later became "Festus" on Gunsmoke. The story is a classic - a mother's love for her only son along with the anger of a spoiled southern aristocrat caught in the ravages of the Civil War, the former husband whose pledge of Duty, Honor, and Country of the career military man broke up their marriage, and the realization and acceptance by both of that pledge is as integral to the man as were her ties to the South. This should be in the top five of John Wayne movies for collectors - great music, acting, scenery, photography, and message.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2009
RIO GRANDE(1950)---John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Victor McLaglen, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey, Jr., Claude Jarman, Jr., Chill Wills, J. Carroll Naish
The last film in John Ford's "cavalry trilogy" and, IMO, the best of the three. John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara are one of the great "screen teams" and they are in top form here. Wayne is "Lt. Col. Yorke", O'Hara is "Kathleen", his estranged wife, and Jarman is their son, who has enlisted in the Army and has been posted to his father's command. O'Hara has accompanied Jarman to his posting hoping to persuade his father to let her "buy out" his enlistment and return him to civilian life. To her chagrin, Jarman wants no part of that and refuses to allow it.
The film is "classic Ford". The characters are developed slowly and fully and, as always, the location photography is stunning---the film was shot in Moab, Utah. There is plenty of action involving an Apache uprising. McLaglen is a delight as the "top kick" for Wayne's unit. Ben Johnson and Harry Carey, Jr., give fine performances. The scene where Johnson, Carey, and Jarman ride teams of horses bareback, "Roman style", is just incredible---especially so given the fact that each actor is doing his own riding---no stunt-doubles for any of them. Ben Johnson, who was a National Champion Rodeo Cowboy prior to entering films, is probably the best horseman to ever appear in the movies.
Anyway, this is another movie that I would recommend very highly to any fan of westerns, John Ford, or John Wayne.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2006
Ford's cavalry trilogy is, in its way, just as much Victor McLaglen's trilogy, for he appears once again in 'Rio Grande', still superbly filling the tough-soft sergeant part, still providing the Ford horse-play comedy element with just a touch of parody, still, one might add, probably fulfilling Ford's own particular vision of revering the heroes who have helped conquer the West...
The McLaglen sergeant seems drawn on the spreading of lines, but in retrospect, one realizes that somehow, paradoxically, he has inspired a remarkable degree of realism into the three motion pictures... (They would be not the same without him.)
'Rio Grande' has a very strong domestic flavor...
John Wayne - a casualty of the Civil War - is a cavalry officer, under strict orders, with great family problems... He's a northerner who, not surprisingly, has left his wife, a southerner, because he obediently did his military duty and burned several southern plantations - including the one owned by his wife's family... Maureen O'Hara - bringing a fitting maturity to her stereotyped assignment in the film - never forgives her husband for burning her plantation, and abruptly takes their son and goes away, effectively ending their marriage...
Fifteen years later, Wayne, promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Cavalry officer, attempts to maintain the truce calm at his southwestern post, which is besieged by marauding renegade Apaches who are continually using the border with Mexico as an escape route after their raids, a lost cause since the U.S. and Mexican governments agreed that their military forces will not cross the Rio Grande under any circumstances...
He hurries to put down an Indian uprising when his past and his wife cross his path again... He is confronted by a new recruit: his West Point dropout son (Claude Jarman Jr.) and, later, the arrival of his frigid wife, desperate to buy her son out of the cavalry...
Everything, domestically and militarily is, of course, resolved successfully and, indeed, predictably, but it is the texture of the film that gives it its enjoyment - the gentle study of the reconciliation of a colonel and his estranged wife; the interplay of a father compelled to send his son on a dangerous mission; the peculiar supporting contributions of the 'beloved brute sergeant,' or the cavalry side-kicks, Ben Johnson and Harry Carey, Jr.
The three films (even considered singly) give a feeling of frontier military life, however colored by a director's highly personal viewpoint, that has hardly been approached, let alone surpassed...
There's a beautiful scene in which Wayne and Maureen are serenaded by soldiers of his troop... We can observe a husband meditating about all that went wrong with his marriage, and watch the inclination and desire that exist in his longing sideways brief look at his wife...
With first rate acting and lushly sentimental score, 'Rio Grande' can never be missed... It is the last of John Ford's cavalry movies and the most sentimental...
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2005
Many Great Westerns have been the results of Director and Star partnerships none more so than John Ford and John Wayne From STAGECOACH (1939) to THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE (1962). Just about in the middle of this period they made three films regarded as Ford's Cavalry Trilogy. As well as John Wayne, Victor McLagen (A former Ford favourite) would also appear in all three! FORT APACHE (1948) SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949) and RIO GRANDE (1950).
In RIO GRANDE John Wayne reprises his role of Kirby Yorke from FORT APACHE. John Ford had just completed WAGONMASTER (1950) starring Ward Bond in the title role along with Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jnr both who no doubt for a matter of convenience retained their names of Travis (Tyree) and Sandy (Boone) from WAGONMASTER. Ben Johnson also played Sgt Tyree in SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON. The film also stars Maureen O'Hara as Wayne's estranged screen wife, Claude Jarman Junior as their son and last but not least J. Carrol Naish as Lt Gen Phil Sheridan.
The story is basically a study of reconciliation between the Wayne and O'Hara characters during the Apache wars. Beautifully shot in black and white plenty of images on the skyline, as well as that of the troops encampment and on the move.
The horse riding sequences are outstanding it's reputed that Johnson, Carey and the young Jarmen did all the Roman (standing on two horses whilst going at full gallop) style riding. Ben Johnson was a former stunt rider and double and it's these three who are the real heroes of the piece!
As usual with most John Ford films we have several comic set pieces as well as the frequent accompaniment by "The Sons of the Pioneers" (A singing group previously lead by Roy Rogers). John Wayne was in a purple patch at this stage of his career having had critical acclaim for the aforementioned SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON and Howard Hawkes RED RIVER (1948). Any John Ford / John Wayne aficionado will have a field day with this release, but any Western fan should find much to enjoy in this top quality Collector's Edition DVD
This Rio Grande Collector's Edition DVD along with Trailers (All digitally remastered). Plus extras
"THE MAKING OF RIO GRANDE" Hosted by Leonard Maltin
"ALONG THE RIO GRANDE WITH MAUREEN O'HARA"
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great movie, but want to comment on the DVD. Other reviewers to the contrary, I felt that this was a poor transfer, with digital artifacts present and indeed quite distracting in a couple of scenes. Not good. My old VHS copy is more of a pleasure to watch. Also, the last reviewer was incorrect; as Maltin makes clear in a pretty boring "Making of" segment, this wasn't shot in Monument Valley.