The film is considered a Western take on The Mutiny on the Bounty. The relationship between Tom Dunson and Matt Garth is deeply complex. Although they're prepared to kill each other, deep down they still respect for one another. This relationship is based on control, idealism, respect, and trust.
It takes a fascinating look at the cattle drive during the Wild West. The film shows the responsbility that went with driving cattle across country and the different road blocks that many riders were faced with. Red River(1948) shows that the cattle drives were a cowboy's main source of work. City Slickers(1991) would do a wonderful homage to this Howard Hawks classic.
Tom Dunson, Ringo Kid, and Ethan Edwards to name a few are some of the best characters played by the duke. He exhibits here that he was a great actor as well as a great Hollywood star. Its a shame that his best performances were overlooked by by many people during his lifetime(he's definitely a superior actor compared to the likes of Stallone, Arnold, and Willis combined). It was actually filmed during 1946 but was shelved for two year due to a legal battle with Howard Hughes.
Montgomery Clift stands out on his own as Matt Garth in acting next to John Wayne. Walter Brennan is excellent in the role of Tom Dunson's sidekick. Red River(1948) was one of the best film to come out of 1948. Red River(1948) contains a trademark flirtious man-woman relationship between Matt Garth and Tess that also evident in some of the director's other works...I.E., His Girl Friday(Walter & Hildy), Ball of Fire(Potts & O'Shea), To Have & Have Not(Harry & Slim), The Big Sleep(Phillip Marlowe & Vivian Sternwood), and Rio Bravo(John T. Chance & Feathers).