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Red River is an Epic of Western Filmmaking!,
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This review is from: Red River (DVD)
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.
It is Dunson's dictatorship resolve to get the cattle to market that eventually leads to the supreme conflict in the film, the battle of wills between father and son. Matthew Garth is forced by dire circumstances to lead a mutiny against the tyrannical Dunson, and take the herd to Kansas, leaving Dunson alone in the wilderness. Dunson, stung by the perceived betrayal of his adopted son, promises to catch up with Garth, and kill him. The film's climax is the showdown between Dunson and Garth, on the streets of Abeline.
This is a film that you will enjoy watching for the first time, and for many times afterward. It is one of Wayne's best films, and the film that established him as a Hollywood western film icon. John Ford, a close friend of Waynes, and a premier director of his time, commented upon seeing Wayne dominate the film: "That son of a bitch can really act!"; perhaps the highest form of praise Ford ever gave.
If I had to recommend one western film, this is the one I'd choose.