Matt Calder, who lives on a remote farm with his young son Mark, helps two unexpected visitors who lose control of their raft on the nearby river. Harry Weston is a gambler by profession ... See full summary »
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Matt Calder, who lives on a remote farm with his young son Mark, helps two unexpected visitors who lose control of their raft on the nearby river. Harry Weston is a gambler by profession and he is racing to the nearest town to register a mining claim he has won in a poker game. His attractive wife Kay, a former saloon hall girl, is with him. When Calder refuses to let Weston have his only rifle and horse, he simply takes them leaving his wife behind. Unable to defend themselves against a likely Indian attack, Calder, his son and Kay Weston begin the treacherous journey down the river on the raft Weston left behind. Written by
The film ran over schedule and budget due to mishaps caused when director Otto Preminger insisted that actors perform their own stunts for the scenes of the raft struggling down the rapids. On one occasion Marilyn Monroe had to be saved from drowning when her boots filled with water, and on another she and Robert Mitchum had to be rescued when their raft became stuck on a rock and was on the verge of overturning. However, according to Lee Server's biography "Robert Mitchum: Baby I Don't Care", they didn't do their own stunts. The people on the overturning raft were stunt performers Roy Jenson, Helen Thurston and midget Harry Monty. Mitchum would often "appropriate" anecdotes; this appears to be one of them. The stars were only allowed to perform on a raft secured to the riverbank, although Monroe actually did twist her leg. See more »
The chords Kay plays on the guitar do not match the chords necessary for that particular song. See more »
Of all of Marilyn Monroe's leading men, Robert Mitchum was the only one who knew her back when. In 1941 before he made his screen debut in a Hopalong Cassidy film, Mitchum was among other things an aircraft factory worker and one of his friends was one James Daugherty. Of course Jim had a wife Norma Jean at the time and Bob and Dorothy occasionally socialized.
He knew all about her psychological problems and when it came time to do a film with her when both became screen legends, Mitchum was not about to get himself involved. That probably helped because during the shooting Marilyn and director Otto Preminger stopped speaking and would only communicate through Mitchum.
Marilyn's a saloon gal involved with a no good gambler/drifter in Rory Calhoun. Calhoun and Monroe nearly drown on a river when Mitchum rescues them and their raft. No good deed goes unpunished so Calhoun takes Mitchum's horse and Mitchum, Monroe, and Mitchum's son Tommy Rettig use the raft to go after him. They're kind of forced to because the Indians are on the warpath.
She's certainly quite a distraction for a man on a mission and at one point Mitchum does give into lust ever so briefly. Which does make River of No Return one of the more realistic westerns ever done.
Twentieth Century Fox decided to go whole hog on this one, shooting the film up in Banff. But with Marilyn and Otto feuding it was not a happy set. Otto walked off the picture and Jean Negulesco finished it out. Joe DiMaggio flew up to the set because of rumors of Mitchum and Marilyn, that were completely unfounded, but Joe was the jealous type. As for Mitchum legend has it that he and another legendary drinker, Murvyn Vye, killed many a bottle during the long evenings.
Done in cinemascope and 3-D, River of No Return should be seen on the big screen. Not even a letterbox DVD does it justice. And 3-D was definitely the medium for Monroe. Marilyn even has some nice songs to sing in this one.
It's not a great western, still it's entertaining enough especially in those rafting sequences. But it was a film Otto Preminger shuddered about when recalling.
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