Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Red River (1948) Review

Red River (1948)
Dir: Howard Hawks
Starring: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift

Red River is a perfect example of the old Hollywood western. On the surface it's a simple story about a cattle drive, but the thing that resonated with me the most was the father/son dynamic in regards to the characters getting aging. While Dunston is used to being the boss and not having to deal with anyone else questioning his authority, Garth is growing up and becoming his own man. Dunston is stubborn, and refuses to listen to any suggestions of what others have to say (no matter if it may make things easier for the cattle hands), but Garth is learning that sometimes what your parent thinks can be wrong, which is an important thing for anyone to learn. The movie is beautifully shot, and the scenes of the cattle moving through the streets Abilene are very impressive when you step back and remember that this required herding the hundreds of cattle through the sets they had constructed. And John Wayne is really good in this movie. It seems like most modern audiences have kind of written him off, but I think he was the perfect example of an actor who knew how to play to his strengths.  Recently the American Film Institute named it as #5 on their list of the ten top westerns, which my initial response was "It should of been Rio Bravo" I still cannot deny that Red River is a classic and deserves every bit of praise that it gets.

I would recommend the Criterion dual format Blu-ray/dvd set, that comes with both versions of the movie (the original theatrical release and the pre-release versions), plenty of supplemental features, and a paperback of Borden Chase's novel that the film was based on. It's a very impressive package.

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