Red River (1948)

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    There are 142 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by lasbugas.

    • Red River (1948)



      Photo with the courtesy of lasbugas


      Plot Summary
      Tom Dunson builds a cattle empire with his adopted son Matthew Garth.
      Together they begin a massive cattle drive north from Texas to the Missouri railhead.
      But on the way, new information and Dunson's tyrannical ways cause Matthew to take the herd away from Dunson
      and head to a new railhead in Kansas. Dunson, swearing vengeance, pursues.
      Summary written by Jim Beaver

      Full Cast
      John Wayne .... Thomas Dunson
      Montgomery Clift .... Matthew 'Matt' Garth
      Joanne Dru .... Tess Millay
      Walter Brennan .... 'Groot' Nadine
      Coleen Gray .... Fen
      Harry Carey .... Mr. Melville (as Harry Carey Sr.)
      John Ireland .... Cherry Valance
      Noah Beery Jr. .... Buster McGee
      Harry Carey Jr. .... Dan Latimer
      Chief Yowlachie .... Quo (as Chief Yowlatchie)
      Paul Fix .... Teeler Yacey
      Hank Worden .... Simms Reeves
      Mickey Kuhn .... Matt, as a boy
      Ray Hyke .... Walt Jergens
      Wally Wales .... Old Leather (as Hal Talliaferro)
      Lane Chandler .... Colonel (uncredited)
      Davison Clark .... Mr. Meeker (uncredited)
      Harry Cording .... Gambler (uncredited)
      Richard Farnsworth .... Dunston Rider (uncredited)
      Paul Fierro .... Fernandez (uncredited)
      George Lloyd .... Rider with Mr. Melville (uncredited)
      Pierce Lyden .... Colonel's Trail Boss (uncredited)
      John Merton .... Settler (uncredited)
      Ivan Parry .... Bunk Kenneally (uncredited)
      Lee Phelps .... Gambler (uncredited)
      William Self .... Wounded Wrangler (uncredited)
      Glenn Strange .... Naylor (uncredited)
      Tom Tyler .... The Quitter (uncredited)
      Dan White .... Laredo (uncredited)
      Shelley Winters .... Dance Hall Girl in Wagon Train (uncredited)

      Richard Farnsworth .... stunts (uncredited)
      Ben Johnson .... stunts (uncredited)
      Fred Kennedy .... stunts (uncredited)
      Danny Sands .... stunts (uncredited)
      Jack Williams .... stunts (uncredited)

      Writing Credits
      Borden Chase screenplay & story The Chisholm Trail)
      Charles Schnee (screenplay)

      Original Music
      Dimitri Tiomkin

      Russell Harlan

      Filmed in 1946 but held for release for two years, in part due to legal problems with Howard Hughes who claimed it was similar to his The Outlaw (1943).

      Texas Longhorn cattle had been nearly extinct as a breed for about 50 years when this film was made. Only a few dozen animals were available. In the herd scenes most of the cattle are Hereford crosses with the precious Longhorns prominently placed in crucial scenes.

      The theme song, "Settle Down" was later used under the title "My Rifle, My Pony and Me" in Rio Bravo (1959), another John Wayne western.

      There was some concern that John Wayne and Montgomery Clift would not get along since they were diametrically opposed on all political issues, and both were outspoken on their views. According to legend they agreed not to discuss politics and the shooting went smoothly. However both Wayne and Walter Brennan would not get along with Clift since they were aware of his homosexuality, and they stayed away from the young actor when not filming. At one point Wayne tried to have Clift replaced when he heard that his co-star was having an affair with John Ireland. Clift later turned down Dean Martin's role in Rio Bravo (1959) because he did not want to be reunited with those two actors.

      Five dams were built to bring the San Pedro River in Arizona, where the crossings were shot, to flood stage.

      In a 1974 interview, Howard Hawks said that he originally offered the role of Thomas Dunson to Gary Cooper but he had declined it because he didn't believe the ruthless nature of Dunson's character would have suited his screen image.

      The role of Tess Millay was intended for Margaret Sheridan but she became pregnant shortly before filming. Instead she suggested her friend Joanne Dru for the role.

      Cary Grant (who had worked with Howard Hawks on Bringing Up Baby (1938) and Only Angels Have Wings (1939)) turned down the role of gunslinger Cherry Valance, a part that was subsequently minimized in the final film.

      During production, many members of the cast and crew caught illnesses and injuries. Howard Hawks was hospitalized for several days after being stung by a centipede. John Wayne caught a severe cold. Joanne Dru suffered from influenza.

      This is Montgomery Clift's debut film, but because it was shelved for 2 years, the first film the public saw of Clift was The Search (1948), which he was Oscar-nominated for.

      Upon completing this movie, Howard Hawks gave John Wayne a belt buckle that featured the Red River D logo (Wayne later wore this as part of his costume in El Dorado (1966)). Wayne later returned the favor and gave Hawks a twin buckle.

      Ranked #5 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Western" in June 2008.

      After seeing John Wayne's performance in Red River (1948), directed by rival director Howard Hawks, John Ford is quoted as saying, "I never knew the big son of a bitch could act."

      The only film that father, Harry Carey, and son, Harry Carey Jr. appeared together in.

      The famous scene where Montgomery Clift and John Ireland compare their revolvers was allegedly a reference to the affair they were having in real life.

      Howard Hawks was distressed by John Ireland's unprofessional and lecherous behavior during filming, which were partially due to the actor's alcoholism. This contributed to Ireland's part, "Cherry Valance", being drastically reduced in the finished film. At one point, Cary Grant was in consideration for the part (he turned it down).

      Writer Borden Chase readily admitted that the storyline was Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) with saddles and stirrups.

      Howard Hawks originally wanted Gregg Toland as his director of photography. When Toland proved unavailable, he had to go with Russell Harlan instead.

      Final film of Harry Carey

      "Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on March 7, 1949 with John Wayne, Joanne Dru and Walter Brennan reprising their film roles.

      "Red River" was 1948's third highest grossing film at $4,150,000. Only "The Road to Rio" ($4,500,000) and "Easter Parade" ($4,200,000) made more.

      * nachronisms: The film is set in 1865 yet several Colt Model 1873 Single-Action Army Revolvers are seen which were not available until later.

      * Anachronisms: When they are driving the cattle and go to the aid of the wagon train, a communications mast can be seen on the hill in the background of one shot of the five horsemen. The next shot is a closer view of one rider and the mast can be seen even more clearly.

      * Factual errors: The film gives 14 August 1865 as the completion of the first cattle drive on the Chisholm Trail. However, the first cattle drive on the Chisholm Trail started and finished in 1867, two years later.

      * Crew or equipment visible: An equipment shadow tracks across the wagon as the camera pans from Groot to Dunson during their first night on guard at Red River.

      * Continuity: During the cattle stampede, Dunson, Matt and the other cowboys saddle up and try to turn the herd. Process shots of each cowboys are inserted in the scene. Every cowboy is riding the same dummy horse and saddle with a very large Mexican saddlehorn.

      * Continuity: Inside the tent, during Tom and Tess's conversation, the lamp hanging between them changes positions and disappears between shots.

      * Continuity: Near the end of the film, when Tom walks toward Matt, his shadow changes repeatedly from one shot to another.

      * Continuity: When Dunson is standing next to his horse after Mathew Garth takes the herd from him, he clearly has a belt full of cartridges, but later on Mathew confirms to Groot that he took all of Dunson's cartridges.

      * Revealing mistakes: Matthew Garth seems to beat Thomas Dunson to the draw in a mock contest orchestrated by Dunston and Groot Nadine. However the gun is already in Garth's right hand in order to fool the audience, as evidenced by the his empty holster as he walks away.

      * Continuity: Near the end of the movie, John Wayne is shot. After a fight with Montgomery Clift, Wayne is miraculously well again.

      * Continuity: As the men and the herd approach the railroad, the clouds change from scattered to clear, to overcast as they approach the town of Abilene.

      * Errors in geography: The trail would not go near any mountains.

      * Errors in geography: The "Red River" is flowing the wrong direction. If the herd is crossing from south to north, the water should be flowing from west to east, or from the left side of the screen to the right.

      * Errors in geography: The "Red River" is flowing the wrong direction! If the herd is crossing from south to north, the water should be flowing from west to east, or from the left side of the screen to the right.

      * Miscellaneous: Dunson's final design for the ranch's brand includes "D" for Dunson, but "M" for Matthew - why not "G" for Garth?

      * Anachronisms: Film set in 1865, but using Model 1892 Winchesters to shoot Indians when they attack the wagon train.

      Memorable Quotes

      Filming Locations
      Elgin, Arizona, USA
      Lil' Boquillas Ranch, Fairbank, Arizona, USA
      Nogales, Sonora, Mexico
      San Pedro River, Arizona, USA
      Warner Brothers-The Lot - 1041 N. Formosa Avenue, West Hollywood, California, USA (studio)
      Tucson, Arizona, USA
      Whetstone Mountains, Arizona, USA
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 8 times, last by ethanedwards ().

    • Red River is a 1948 Western film directed and produced by Howard Hawks,
      giving a fictional account of the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas along the Chisholm Trail.
      The dramatic tension stems from a growing feud over the management of the drive,
      between the Texas rancher who initiated it (John Wayne) and his adopted adult son (Montgomery Clift).

      The film also starred Joanne Dru, Walter Brennan, Coleen Gray, Harry Carey,
      John Ireland, Hank Worden, Noah Beery Jr.
      and Harry Carey, Jr.
      Borden Chase and Charles Schnee wrote the screenplay, based on Chase's original story
      (which was first serialized in The Saturday Evening Post in 1946 as "Blazing Guns on the Chisholm Trail").

      This film is right up there in the Top 5, all time greats.
      I rate this film very highly, and Duke, mastered the part
      of the brooding, moody, Dunson with great skill.
      Although, ,critics thought the casting of Clift, was lightweight,
      however, Montgomery acquitted himself well.

      When Duke met Montgomery for the first time, he asked Howard,
      Howard, do you think, you can get anything going, between, that kid and myself?
      I don't think we can make a fight. That kid isn't going to be able, to stand up to me

      Montgomery apparently got up at, 5 in the morning, worked hard with the wranglers,
      before the days shooting begun.
      Duke was so impressed, with his determination, he taught him how to use a gun, throw punches etc..
      Montgomery responded to Duke's power, and their different approaches
      blended brilliantly..

      Montgomery was much shorter than Duke so,to make the climatic fight,
      more balanced, he had Dunson, shot in the leg!!
      With a great support cast, including the brilliant Walter Brennan,
      and Joanne Dru, the film was destined to be, more than good.

      John Ford, said that in this the film, John Wayne became an actor,
      he was right, but it also goes to prove, that it just wasn't Ford,
      who got the best out of Duke!
      Duke at this time credited Hawks, has being the second great
      influence, in his life.

      Below is a great web-site,


      User Review
      A much neglected Classic western!
      30 May 1999 | by Lawrence Davis (Medicine Hat, Alberta)

      I was the "first kid on the block" to purchase a VCR, way back in the late 60's...the RCA timer, no remote, no nothing! Paid $1200.00 for it (Canadian funds!)and ALL my friends told me I was nuts. I TRIED to tell them that, eventually, everybody would own a VCR but was shouted down. In any case, Red River was the first movie I taped and, deleting commercial breaks, I was ecstatic to have a Hollywood movie on hand to watch whenever the urge arose. And WHAT A MOVIE!!! I agree with earlier comments re John Wayne...who usually just played John Wayne. In THIS one, and "The Searchers", however, the director got one helluva performance out of the Duke. Also, the second movie performance by the tragical Montgomery "pretty" in the Mohammed Ali sense that I virtually fell in love with him myself, even though I was a "straight" teenaged boy. From the opening credits, with that almost Wagnerian music by Dmitri Tiomkin, this movie (shot in 1946 and held 'til 1948 for release...I forget why)should be compulsory viewing for the brain-dead Hollywood moguls of today. Actually, there are no "moguls" left...they're all bottom-line money men who wouldn't know a good movie if they saw one..."Let's check the demographics, guys, and fill those multiple screen outlets with brain-dead teens (not really their fault as products of our so called progressive p.c. education system)and make a TON of money!" My age is showing...back to the movie. If you haven't seen it, be prepared for a LONG sojourn. This isn't brain's an allegorical treatise on the impetuousness of youth vs. the inflexible values of pioneer stock. In the end, BOTH are told to cut themselves some slack, by the "gun-totin" Joanne Dru. In summary, a Great Western, and to get back to the Duke, an amazing performance by a 39 year old made up to look like a 60 year old...and he pulled it off! The respect/fear combo of his hired trailhands is almost Shakespearian, and a tribute to the screenwriter/s and director Howard Hawks. If you've never seen yourself a big favour and rent this little classic!
      Best Wishes
      London- England

      The post was edited 3 times, last by ethanedwards ().

    • Hi

      Besides being my second favourite John Wayne picture imo it has to be considered as among the pivotal films in John Waynes career up with Stagecoach, The Quiet Man and the Searchers.

      After seeing Wayne perform as Thomas Dunsen it brought forth the comment from John Ford "I didn't know the sonofabitch could act",

      After ignoring him for a couple of years in favour of Henry Fonda Ford brought him back for Fort Apache She Wore A Yellow Ribbon Three Godfathers and Rio Grande all of these leading on quite nicely to the Quiet Man.


      Walk Tall - Talk Low
    • Sheer Brilliance a real gem of a movie and in my opinion the best of the Hawk collaborations.

      On a trivia note as well as the black & white version on DVD I also have a colorised version on video. Normally, I would say avoid the colorised version like the plague but for once it is quite pleasing on the eye and quality is okay/good for watching on TV. I havent tried it via projection system so I must give it as test there.


    • Hi

      I agree, I have the original film, The directors cut on VHS and took the colourised version off of the television.

      Like you I normally hate colourised versions but Red river and The Longest Day I think looked great in colour.

      Many think that Red River is based on Mutiny on the Bounty and if you look at it there is a comparison.


      Walk Tall - Talk Low
    • Hi,
      Here's an interesting quote from Duke,
      and his comments, regarding the movie:-
      Stagecoach, established me as a star,
      Red River established me as an actor.
      My problem after Stagecoach, was I had to go back to Republic to make more standard westerns for them.Then all the critcs and know-it-alls jumped on my back, and said Wayne,was no good without Ford.
      The character I played, was a direct steal from Captain Bligh, in Mutiny on the Bounty,but when I played that, I believed in my character, really believed everything he did was right.
      As a consequence, he didn't come off as a heavy.
      Originally the part was an old man, that falls apart, crying and getting all scared and cowardly, then the kid takes over...Hawks wanted to make me, a blustering coward in this role,
      "You can win an Academy Award", he said...But I knew, that as a man gains more strength of character and more position in life, he gets straighter backed, and carries himself with a sort of nobility.
      So I played it, as a strong man, who was scared.
      After all, as a man, you can be scared, but you can't be a coward.
      Best Wishes
      London- England
    • Hi,
      I have been researching all the threads, back to the start of the JWMB,
      looking for previous discussion, relating to the movies.
      I have found the following, comments, and have copied them here,
      so that they are now under one forum:-

      Critic Time: Red River, lets be critics

      post Jan 19 2004, 03:36 PM

      about Red River I dont remember everything about the movie because I saw the movie for the last time when I was 4 years old.

      I can only remember myself the indian attack so I will add that as my favourite scene, I know that much critics think that this is the best western ever, I dont know until I have seen the complete movie.

      my vote:*****

      what is your review about the movie, and dont forget to add your favourite scene because some of you were forgotten that in the other topic about The man who shot Liberty Valance.


      post Jan 19 2004, 04:34 PM

      Hi JWfan

      You have hit the right topic Red River is my favourite western by John Wayne or any other cowboy star, and I' d bet a penny to a pound that a lot of people will say the same.

      My favourite scene is from the beginning of the picture to the end, but if pushed the scene of the cows and drovers assembled in the half light of daybreak while Dunson says quietly to Matt "Lets take em to Missouri Matt" then the resulting yells as each man is shown urging himself forward whistles and then the sweeping music of Tiomkins extravagance. If I could have moved the chair I'd have joined the drive myself.

      The scene was later repeated in 'City Slickers

      Some people say that the music spoiled the film, for me it made it and this is one reason that I went out and bought the CD a couple of weeks before Christmas.

      Other facts about the film.

      Some say that the main theme of the picture is the rivalry between John Wayne and Montgomery Clift and is the same as between Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian and that Red River is a remake of 'Mutiny on the Bounty. And as Christian takes the Bounty away from Bligh so Garth takes the herd away from Dunson. I think it is a good comparison

      Howard Hawks changed the ending of the film and although Wayne was wounded at the end of the picture he survived for a reconcilliation rather than die on the way back to Texas as Dunson did in the original story.

      One other fact that probably everyone is aware was during the making of the picture Howard Hawks had a number of silver belt buckles made depicting the Red River D which he gave to the leading players.
      At the end of the picture Duke and Hawks swopped Buckles. Hawks later lost his but John Wayne obviously treasured his and ever after the one he wore had the initials HH on it.

      My score for the picture

      Best Regards

      A Girl Named Jen 
      post Jan 20 2004, 01:53 PM

      Every favorite scene would probably have to be when Duke strolls into Abilene with his band of mercenaries lusting after revenge toward Matt. Love the way he strides toward the camera lookin' so big and so mean - the way the sea of cattle parts for him and the way the action is underscored by the music. Wow! I could watch that again and again and again and...

      General Sterling Price 
      post Jan 27 2004, 04:35 AM

      I just watched Red River last weekend. I would have to say my favorite is when Groot throws the unarmed Dunson a rifle from his seat on the chuck wagon, and Dunson drops the three quitters when they draw, and then shouts "anyone else want some of it?" I also like the scene where the guy in the food line complains about the coffee and says how he is going to tell Dunson...and is cut off as Dunson enters the screen grabs some coffee, downs it, and asks what he wanted to say to Dunson.

      The only drawback to the film, is the woman Matt goes for. I cannot stand her any more that Howard Hawk's use of Angie Dickenson in Rio Bravo. The senseless chatter and unrealistic babble hurts both of these films in my opinion.


      post Jan 27 2004, 05:29 AM

      Not to get into a discussion about Rio Bravo but, I would much rather look at and listen too a younger Angie then the older one. She was actually really nice looking in Rio Bravo.

      post Jan 27 2004, 10:36 AM

      Red River like the searchers is one of the greatest movies of all times. It focuses on a character called Tom Dunson whom gradually changes because of events as his life progresses. At the beginning Tom is a tough but reasonably clean cut hero and there is a truly superb scene in which Tom says goodbye to his girl with music increasing the atmosphere and heightening the dialogue. His reaction to his girl getting killed shows great depth in Dukes acting as he looks at the wagons burning and knows he is helpless to do anything, and a magnificent Indian attack on Dukes wagon follows which results in the realisation that his girl is dead. There are far too many great scenes in Red River to name them all hear it really is an unique experience watching this movie. Hawks uses symbols to heighten the reality when Dunson starts to become the villain at the funeral scene a dark cloud descends. At the beginning Duke wears a white hat to symbolise that he is the good guy but as the movie progresses that colour changes to black. The fight at the end parallels the 1st meeting between Dunson and Matt at this meeting Tom hit Matt and the hits sound like slaps symbolising he is a boy at the end when Dunson hits Matt the hits sound like punches symbolising that Matt has turned into a man. Reoccurring themes appear throughout Red River such as Contracts. the snake bracelet, leaving the girl behind and taking guns away from Matt that add to the movie and show how coherent it is. Dukes acting is superb completely faultless and it is arguably better than Ethan Edwards but I'm personally torn on deciding which one is the best. Whats great about Hawks is that there are no silly characters within his movie every character in this movie is both realistic and essential to the storyline what more they add depth to the quality and detail of the movie. From watching this movie you really do get a true sense of what is must have been like back then, the hardship people had to endure and it really is a tribute to Hawks for being able to successfully translate this to the screen. The dialogue is this movie is authentic, snappy and at times cool with Dunson coming out with some great lines. Despite so many themes in this movie it is about the relationship between father and son and how each need to understand the other and is sublime. In conclusion if ever a movie deserved the title classic Red River does.
      Best Wishes
      London- England

    • "RED RIVER" is one of those movies that I forget just how good it is if I haven’t seen it in a while. Great film; not just one of the best Westerns, but one of the all time best movies. Yeah, the ending is a little corny, but it works (tough, stubborn guys getting put in their place by a tough woman. It happens!) Also, I thought the Cherry Valance character could have had a bigger role like originally intended. But then again it works just as well this way; we know he’s a killer, we know he has a reputation, and I think when he challenges Dunson at the end, he has his own plan going on; but because it’s the cowboy way, he’s not saying what it is- I like it when the filmmaker doesn‘t tell us the whole story ( Like another good filmmaker, Clint Eastwood said, sometimes the best part of the stories are told off screen and in the audience’s minds). Great movie; hope there’s a special edition DVD one of these days.
    • Originally posted by ZS_Maverick@Jun 29 2006, 03:05 AM
      "RED RIVER" is one of those movies that I forget just how good it is if I haven’t seen it in a while.

      I second this. For some reason "Rio Bravo" from Hawks/Wayne collaborations usually comes into mind first, and still "Red River" may even be better. Hard to say, both are near perfect. Duke is terrific as Dunson

      I'm not sure if I'd rather see an uncompromised, very sad ending where either Dunson or Matt or both would of course die. The problem with the happy ending is that it comes too suddenly, such a quick change of mind doesn't fit especially Dunson's character
      I don't believe in surrenders.

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