The River (1951)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  19 December 1951 (France)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 3,898 users  
Reviews: 34 user | 55 critic

Three adolescent girls growing up in Bengal, India, learn their lessons in life after falling for an older American soldier.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Nora Swinburne ...
The Mother
The Father
Arthur Shields ...
Mr. John
Suprova Mukerjee ...
Thomas E. Breen ...
Capt. John
Patricia Walters ...
Radha ...
June Hillman ...
Narration (voice)


Three teenage girls are living in Bengal (India) near a big river : Harriet is the oldest child of a big family of English settlers. Valerie is the unique daughter of an American industrialist. Melanie has an American father and an Indian mother. One day, a man arrives. He will be the first love of the three girls. Written by Yepok

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

bengal | american | india | love | river | See All (193) »


Beauty...Mystery...Delightful Humor...


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

19 December 1951 (France)  »

Also Known As:

The River  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jean Renoir originally wanted Marlon Brando to play Captain John. See more »


(at around 36 mins) A cigarette appears from nowhere. See more »


Valerie: That's funny. Usually I hate men. I often think, do you know what, that I ought to be a nun.
Capt. John: Ha-ha-ha. All little kittens think that.
Valerie: Little kitten. I went to a party last Christmas and they thought I was 18.
Capt. John: What happens when they think you're 18?
Valerie: It was very silly. But, I liked it.
See more »


Featured in Celluloid Man (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

18 April 2005 | by (Brooklyn, NY) – See all my reviews

I believe that both Karina and Gabridl are slightly off when they say that the film is supposed to depict post-independence India. I don't believe this is true and, therefore, Renoir cannot be taken to task for not covering India's independence struggles. Although the film was made post-independence (1951), it does not cover the period of independence itself (late 1930s to actual independence in 1947). Remember, that the film is a "memory film" and is based on the autobiography of Rumer Godden, who was born in 1907. The adult narrator is a grown-up Harriet. A grown-up Harriet in 1951 would be speaking of an earlier time--probably sometime in the 1920s--that was a more peaceful time for the English colonial inhabitants. The clothing and hairstyles can't be used to indicate when the film takes place. Harriet's blue sack of a dress would have been worn by any 13 year-old girl from the 1920 through the 1940s. And Valerie's rather unkempt and flowing hair could be anytime, too.

As for Melanie having an Indian accent. I don't believe that it was ever said that Melanie was educated in England. I believe that the film says she was educated in a convent, and there were certainly convent schools in India in the 1920s. I find it interesting that when it is said that Melanie will probably marry Anil, an understanding that they have had since childhood, she is still wearing her convent uniform. When she develops a crush on Captain John, she starts to wear saris, maybe hoping to attract him through the exotic.

All in all, a beautiful, lyrical film that should not be missed.

19 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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