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Red River (1948)

Approved  |   |  Action, Adventure, Romance  |  17 September 1948 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 20,157 users  
Reviews: 157 user | 89 critic

Dunson leads a cattle drive, the culmination of over 14 years of work, to its destination in Missouri. But his tyrannical behavior along the way causes a mutiny, led by his adopted son.


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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Fen (as Colleen Gray)
Mr. Melville (as Harry Carey Sr.)
Chief Yowlachie ...
Quo (as Chief Yowlatchie)
Teeler Yacey
Mickey Kuhn ...
Matt - as a Boy
Ray Hyke ...
Walt Jergens
Hal Taliaferro ...
Old Leather (as Hal Talliaferro)


Fourteen years after starting his cattle ranch in Texas, Tom Dunston is finally ready to drive his 10,000 head of cattle to market. Back then Dunston, his sidekick Nadine Groot and a teen-aged boy, Matt Garth -who was the only survivor of an Indian attack on a wagon train - started off with only two head of cattle. The nearest market however is in Missouri, a 1000 miles away. Dunston is a hard task master demanding a great deal from the men who have signed up for the drive. Matt is a grown man now and fought in the Civil War. He has his own mind as well and he soon runs up against the stubborn Dunston who won't listen to advice from anyone. Soon, the men on the drive are taking sides and Matt ends up in charge with Dunston vowing to kill him. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Parents Guide:






Release Date:

17 September 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The River Is Red  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (original theatrical)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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. See more »


Just before they begin the drive, Dunson rides up and asks Matt, "ready, Matthew?" Matt replies, "all ready." However, Matt simply nods and doesn't say anything. See more »


[last lines]
Thomas Dunson: When we get back to the ranch, I want you to change the brand. It'll be like this: The Red River D, and we'll add an M to it. You don't mind that, do you?
Matt Garth: No.
Thomas Dunson: You earned it.
See more »


Featured in The Man Without a Face (1993) See more »


Settle Down
Written by Dimitri Tiomkin
Played during the opening credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Benchmark Western
15 November 1999 | by (Brisbane Australia) – See all my reviews

You don't have to use up too much of your imagination to get into and to appreciate this Epic, Howard Hawks does a manificent job in bringing to us a story that depicts the strengths ( and weaknesses ) of early pioneers in the American West. In Red River, Hawks clearly makes us aware of the hardships and loneliness settlers experienced doing their thing, particularly on cattle drives. John Wayne, as always in his element astride a horse, does a great job portraying the single minded cattle Baron Tom Dunson. He looked comfortable in the role with all his regulars like Harry Carey Snr. and Jnr,.Hank Worden and Walter Brennan around him and, along with Hawks is responsible for the Movie being as good as it is. You could almost taste the dust and sweat as Dunson bullies his way along the cattle drive, ignoring advice, doing what a man has to do and saying often, ' I'll read over them in the mornin ', then, being left in the dust himself after his men and his adopted son Matthew Garth...... played by Mongomery Clift.... decide they've had enough. We always knew they'd meet up with each other again, and when they did....what a showdown! Dunson catches up with them in Abeline, gets off his horse when he sees Garth and bullies his way again, this time through a herd of cattle to get to him. That walk Wayne makes amongst the cows is a classic. For a big guy he's got a lot of balance, never losing his stride as he forces his way through the herd, turns, draws and fires at Cherry Valance....played by another resident bad guy of the era, John Ireland....gets hit with a bullet from Valance, crosses the railway track then proceeds to beat up on the only man game enough to stand up to him, and in the process gets a bit of a pasting himself. Fantastic stuff!! Both Clift and Brennan, who played Dunson's old friend Groot Nadine give fine supporting roles, particularly Brennan with his excellent narrative throughout the Movie. Made in 1948, Red River is a great Western and perhaps had much to do in setting standards for others to follow.

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