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Customer Review

184 of 192 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ***** Movie. ** DVD., October 4, 2003
This review is from: Red River (DVD)
"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.) Various other characters come between these two to create some memorable triangles throughout the film. Three-time Oscar winner Walter Brennan is wonderful as Wayne's longtime sidekick whose allegiance eventually shifts over to Clift; Paul Fix also does a fine job in a minor role as the character whose fate jumpstarts the conflict between the two leading men. Most fascinating among the supporting cast is John Ireland who plays the curiously-named Cherry; the Freudian scene in which he and Clift admire each other's pistols, and then commence to shoot them off together is simply astonishing. It's worth noting that Cherry is the first one to try and intervene during the climactic showdown between Wayne and the "son" he contemptuously characterizes as "soft"; equally significant is the fact that the character who finally brings resolution into the movie is a "strong" woman (played by Joanne Dru).
The MGM DVD release of this classic United Artists film is, in my humble opinion, abominable. The source print is visually a disaster, chock full of lines, jumps, flutters, speckles, and other visual noise. The grays are grainy and at one point, the picture even is briefly - and distractingly - out of focus. The sound isn't much better: it crackles and pops and the volume is inconsistent. Adding insult to injury, there are no extras at all, not even cast biographies or production notes, much less a theatrical trailer. This is one classic film that demands - and richly deserves - to be restored, remastered and repackaged.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 26 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 25, 2007 4:07:21 AM PDT
Amen to the comments on the DVD !! I was very disappointed ,after seeing DVD releases of other John Wayne classics, to find that this DVD has neither the picture or the sound quality of the others. I too am surprised that it has not YET been cleaned up and restored since it is considered one of his best movies. It will's just a matter of time. I'm glad I paid less than $6 for this one.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2007 11:40:50 AM PDT
Peter says:
Perhaps of equal interest is that there are two versions of the film. This is the longer version. The shorter has an altered musical score, an added narration by Walter Brennan, one night scene waiting for Dunson is deleted, and the final shootout is truncated. It would be nice if both versions were available. Brennan's narration lends a nice human touch to the film.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 2, 2009 7:19:42 PM PDT
Yes Both Versions Should Be On DVD And Restored With Special Features. This Was The Film That Made The Duke a Actor. Any One Who Says John Wayne Couldnt Act Just Look At This Film. And The Seachers.....

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 26, 2010 9:24:29 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 26, 2010 9:26:22 AM PST
... and maybe ignore The Conqueror.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2011 4:27:21 PM PDT
I saw this movie Red River on the movie channel in St. Louis, MO Saturday March 19, 2011. The clarity and the color and the quality of the movie was just excellent. I wanted to call all my friends to watch it, but I was in someone else's home! The reviewer who wrote about John Wayne as 100% man was correct; he was just great as were all the characters. The lone woman was able to break up the quarrel at the end of the movie with some challenging words.

I do not have TV because I would sit night and day and watch all the old movies that are just classics without comparison,.

St. Louis, MO Patricia

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2011 5:38:27 PM PDT
Interesting, Patricia! I had no idea that the film had been colorized. Here's hoping that the film will be restored and remastered for release on blu-ray soon! And I know exactly what you mean about becoming addicted to watching old films on TV ...

Happy viewing!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2011 10:55:04 PM PDT
As well....and thank you for your comment....the music in the Mar 19 movie on TV was startling and appropriate.....I had never heard the music before. It just added a beautiful artistic 'sense' to the entire movie.

I am usually not one for all those men in a movie; I was rather 'strongly encouraged' to watch it by the woman I was caring for. It really affected me as it showed this, several strong men in real combat situations on a cattle drive.

I love US history and this movie had much history....the Chisolm Trail....they had no maps to go by...the movie missed out on having singing by the cattlemen did this to raise their spirits after a long day and the coming of more days of hard, hard work on the trail.

No guarantee of a retirement, no protection except their rifles and other such weapons, threats of Indians, no cell phones to get the latest word on the weather, food as it appeared and then not always really of qualty, the 'rub' of other men of dubious character.

Everyone in the movie was thin!

Enjoy spring! I am in St. Louis, MO and pray that spring is REALLY here!

Patricia in St. Louis, MO

Posted on May 23, 2011 4:38:35 PM PDT
J.E. Viosca says:
Thank you for your review/warning of this DVD edition. I'll have to wait for a restored version, which this film absolutely deserves and should have had long ago.

In reply to an earlier post on May 29, 2011 10:30:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 31, 2013 9:56:53 PM PDT
3rdGen says:
The fact that this movie was filmed in black & white adds to it's mystique. Many die-hard movie fans wouldn't have it any other way. As for me, I can't help thinking how this movie would look if it were restored in glorious color as well as in black & white. Red River might very well reflect John Wayne's best job of acting, ever.

Posted on Oct 25, 2011 5:51:46 PM PDT
P. Anderson says:
It's interesting...the comment about John Wayne being 100% man.

I'm a Wayne fan--but I find I'm really only interested in him when in the films of Hawks and Ford. He's less interesting to me anywhere else. If it hadn't been for Ford and Hawks, Wayne would have never been anything special, I suspect. His "manliness" to me is contrived on the screen except in the hands of these insightful "manly" directors.
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Location: Pineville, Missouri, USA

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