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Siege at Red River (1954)

Approved  |   |  Action, War, Western  |  1 May 1954 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.6/10 from 250 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 6 critic

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



(screenplay), (from a story by), 1 more credit »
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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




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

Involving classical era western covering several scoundrels scuttling around a Civil War frontier, whom come together around a priceless McGuffin of immense power.
15 April 2011 | by (Hampshire, England) – See all my reviews

Siege at Red River is a good, clean, honest and highly enjoyable adventure film which happens to unfold in the old west at what appears to be somewhat of a height during the American Civil War. Throughout, there are numerous items which open up and contribute to the grubby, generally downcast nature of the film to do with shots at redemption on top of a heist sub-plot meshing in with a revenge tale neatly blending enough to make it a good crack. It's a fair old romp through some often hard material covering the pratfalls of a bunch of both male and female lowlifes cheating, stealing and charming their way through some rather inhospitable territories in aid of themselves. The film is an engaging and pleasing enough rollick, its effectiveness somewhat masked by its own simplicity and surprisingly tense overall demeanour as it rolls its leads from situation to situation with a great deal at stake looming.

The film will cover that of two confederate soldiers deep into Union army, and thus enemy, territory whom pose as travelling salesmen ridding their waggon of muscle tonic and dumping such goods onto the unsuspecting locals with a catchy tune; a smirk and a wink in the process. They are charmers, operating amorally out of a front but whose presence there is much more broadly linked to that of a recently stolen, state-of-the-art Union army produced Gatling gun. Such a gun, and the catalyst of which kicks off its ambling journey around the houses, is foretold during the film's opening; a daring robbery of the train upon which this gun was being transported seeing the perpetrators initially hidden away in the mail waggon with their target granted as much secrecy as it lies hidden away from public view on account of the top Union army officials whom have denied its existence in the newspapers. The thieves, however, know about its presence and the manner in which they infiltrate the train on top of this hints at a sly professionalism very few might be able to match.

It is those very salesperson's, a certain Jim Farraday played by Van Johnson and his accomplice Benjy Guderman (Stone) whom stole and are now in possession of the gun; the bedding down in a nearby town of which leads to complication that see it near impossible to get out of there without being found by the enemy whom litter the area, predominantly down to a Union army captain and his crew scouring for all of the bits and pieces which will lead them to the merchandise he's aware is around. Thank heavens, then, for the shining beacon of light that is Richard Boone's Brett Manning; a rough talking, sleazy, fist-fighting tough guy whom offers them a way out of there - then again, maybe not. Manning plays a sly and seedy customer; a womanising, gambling lout whom, it would seem, mingles around and plays guardian to a performing girl whom specialises in that of playing on-stage burlesque as he sits in the office back-stage doing what-not and probably getting a cut of her earnings to boot.

The aura, or the reputation that the Gatling gun seemingly has, is highlighted by some character officials speaking of said item. The concerns raised about the gun, in that it is so advanced and so powerful, sees one official doubt that it even exists in this still feeble, pre-modern world, or if it is indeed only a rumour that such a paramount armament exists. Its presence, however, is something another man confirms is true before going on to speak of notions that it would indeed be "terrible" if it were to "fall into the wrong hands", something the film enjoys in a very basic sense of building up an off-screen MacGuffin before having the aforementioned clinical bandits make off with it – when they do, we fear the worst. Farraday and Guderman venture onwards and uncover young Nora (Dru), a nurse at a local manor house she owns whose cart is stuck in a river, Jim's somewhat displeasing attempts at getting to know her seeing him use, again, a false persona as he does with the travelling store to charm her; the bumps in the road as he transports her back seeing her invite the interaction, and despite hearing some different truths about Jim from Gunderman, she appears unperturbed and will continue on as is.

The film dares us not to particularly like its leads, Farraday and Guderman; something that is indeed linked to the fact they are thieves and con-men but is more broadly linked to that of a long history of Confederate demonisation embedded within the genre of the American western. In contrast to the rather monstrous Manning, these two are fairly decent folk and it is again to the film's credit that it even attempts to go anywhere near the places it ventures toward come the finale, when ideas of redemption and men seeing the errors of their ways unfold; the film providing us with a chance to reverse prior perception and yet maintain a dramatic edge whilst weaving newfound territory naturally into the proceedings. But the film's sole joy remains observing these scuzzy lowlifes whilst in the throngs of their existence try to outsmart and manoeuvre their way out of trouble, the savage elements linked to that of the overall representation of the Native Americans uneasy in hindsight, but everything else blending well and most of it working rather expertly in the long run.

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