Rio Grande takes place after the Civil War when the Union turned their attention towards the Apaches. Union officer Kirby Yorke is in charge of an outpost on the Rio Grande in which he is ... See full summary »
Ethan Edwards, returned from the Civil War to the Texas ranch of his brother, hopes to find a home with his family and to be near the woman he obviously but secretly loves. But a Comanche raid destroys these plans, and Ethan sets out, along with his 1/8 Indian nephew Martin, on a years-long journey to find the niece kidnapped by the Indians under Chief Scar. But as the quest goes on, Martin begins to realize that his uncle's hatred for the Indians is beginning to spill over onto his now-assimilated niece. Martin becomes uncertain whether Ethan plans to rescue Debbie...or kill her. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
John Ford was known for his terrible temper and his habit of playing cruel practical jokes on his cast and crew but he was unusually kind to John Wayne's son Patrick Wayne, during filming. It was Patrick's first important part and in the biography, "Print the Legend: The Life and Times of John Ford" by Scott Eyman, he recalled that Ford "was crazy about me...Everyone had their day in the barrel, but I was always spared that. Which was good and bad. I wasn't exactly the most popular person on the set. Everyone was getting reamed but me...He handed everything to me...Remember, he was the only director I'd worked for at that point, and I figured that this was the way pictures were made. And I had my real father standing there watching me in the scene. I wasn't acting scared; I was scared." See more »
Right after he takes the loaded gun from Ethan & throws his hat at Ethan, Clayton's gun goes off unintentionally before he takes his first shot. See more »
About ten minutes into the film, there is a shot which begins with Captain Clayton (Ward Bond) slamming a door behind two children who were teasing two young lovers, Lucy and Brad. There follows a wordless interior shot, lasting maybe a minute, wherein Aunt Martha takes out Ethan's Confederate overcoat, tenderly caressing it before she hands it to Ethan. I noticed the sequence when I recently watched the film again, and I had to rewind and play it once more because I found it so stunning--all of the information and emotions conveyed without a word. I'd watched the film previously maybe a dozen times and had never noticed the power of this sequence.
Don't for a second tell me that Ethan is a stereotype, because there is so much more at work here. Obviously we are not supposed to sympathize with Ethan's prejudices, but notice that Ethan is not the only one who feels that way. Laurie (not at all disapprovingly) tells Martin that Aunt Martha would have preferred her daughter to be killed after being defiled. Interestingly, Martin is one-eighth Cherokee, which under the old racial percentages of the Confederacy would make him the equivalent of an octoroon, and therefore non-white. Martin's intended marriage to Laurie, on racial terms, would have been as taboo as Debbie marrying Scar: Laurie believes that death is preferable for Debbie, but she intends to do likewise with Martin. The contrast is that Debbie was abducted, whereas Laurie would willingly go. And note at the end that Laurie walks right by Debbie, as she heads for Martin.
The final shot is famous, but I noted the doorway theme throughout the film: the message of an open or closed door, whether the character enters the door or just looks in, at other times, the character is inside looking out. And all of this in a 50's western.
The movie is not perfect: I could have done without some of the comic relief. However, this is John Wayne's best work (The Shootist is a close second). Those who think this is the best film of all time have good reason to support their belief.
70 of 120 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?