Siege at Red River (1954)

Approved  |   |  Action, War, Western  |  1 May 1954 (USA)
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Cavalry Captain Farraday attempts to prevent the delivery of Gatling Guns into the hands of hostile Indians.



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Cast overview:
Capt. James S. Simmons / Jim Farraday
Nora Curtis
Brett Manning
Sgt. Benjamin 'Benjy' Guderman
Jeff Morrow ...
Frank Kelso
Craig Hill ...
Lt. Braden
Rico Alaniz ...
Chief Yellow Hawk
Robert Burton ...
Pilar Del Rey ...
Ferris Taylor ...
Anderson Smith
John Cliff ...
Sgt. Jenkins


Cavalry Captain Farraday attempts to prevent the delivery of Gatling Guns into the hands of hostile Indians.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


THE STORY OF "THE IMMORTALS" WHO TURNED THE TIDE AT RED RIVER! (original poster-all caps) See more »


Action | War | Western


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1 May 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gatling Gun  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jean Peters was tested for a role. See more »


Features Buffalo Bill (1944) See more »


Music by Lionel Newman
Lyrics by Ken Darby
See more »

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User Reviews

Modest, but excellent Western from Dreyer's former cameraman.
28 May 2001 | by (dublin, ireland) – See all my reviews

In 1954, a Western about the Civil War is not just about the Civil War. 'Siege at Red River' opens with the robbery of a Union train by a bunch of outlaws. The Union soldiers, including a detective, combine the Military and the Law - they are protecting a secret new super-weapon - the Gatling Gun, the first example of mechanised warfare which means surefire victory for which ever side possesses it.

If we substitute the Gatling with a nuclear warhead, the Civil War with the Cold War; and if we note that the bandits make off in a red mail van, and that their leader wears a red cravat, and we assume them as commies, than the Western becomes an Allegory. This is not surprising - from its inception the genre has celebrated the UNITED States and played out and resolved its crises, while the likes of President Reagan have used it to signify a sense of genuine Americanness, so it is natural the genre should be marshalled in such a time of perceived crisis.

As the film is directed by the great Rudolph Mate, former cinematographer for, among others, Carl Dreyer, one of the genuine maestros of the cinema, we might assume that if his film is a Cold War Allegory, it will be far from simplistic. The linking of Communism with disruption, criminality, secrecy and murder is not a surprise; if we do make the link, when our first shock is that the bandit leader is played by the film's star. The benefits of the star persona - wit, charm, a (relatively) rounded personality (he is a grim avenger and gun smuggler, but also a musician, orator and gentleman; he is connected with role-play and the theatre) are in contrast with the monolithic forces of law and order; while he has multiple interests besides the war, they have only that defining interest. Further, while his motives are essentially decent and right-minded, the 'good' guys are not only street-bawling thugs, but perpetrators of vile, near-genocidal acts.

The film doesn't go so far as to salvage Farraday's oppositional position - the conflict between North and South is on one level displaced on gender, where it can be resolved in romance; and on another, generic level, displaced on a third enemy - the murderous amoral smuggler and the Indians - so the opposing American forces can finally reconcile. But it's not a happy reconciliation - the massacre of the Indians is only cathartic if we ignore that they too, like the Americans in the Fort, have women and children; and the finale is only happy if we accept the couple's words, and not the narrative reality, that he is an outlaw evading justice and leaving the woman he has learned to love. This fact of separation from the site of reconciliation implicitly questions that reconciliation.

There are other features - the anti-realistic use of colour; the drunk scene, where the dominant male point of view suddenly switches to the drunken, gun-shooting female, linked to her frank, disruptive, transformative sexuality and contrasted with the ship-lashing, neurotic villain; the use of song, espeically 'Tapioca', and its movement from rebel code to music hall; the argument that nation is an arbitrary series of signs

  • the Indians shoot first at the US flag, not the army; the image of the

Niagara Falls on the music hall curtains - where national identity is constructed and negotiated, not 'natural'; a sophisticated attitude to patriotism, war and friendship - that all add up to a more thoughtful Western than its routine reputation might suggest.

5 of 10 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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