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The River (1984)

PG-13 | | Drama | 11 January 1985 (USA)
A farming family battles severe storms, a bank is threatening to repossess their farm, and there are other hard times in a battle to save and hold on to their farm.



(story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mae Garvey
Shane Bailey ...
Lewis Garvey
Becky Jo Lynch ...
Beth Garvey
Don Hood ...
Senator Neiswinder
Harve Stanley
Howard Simpson
Bob W. Douglas ...
Hal Richardson
Dave Birkin
Lisa Sloan ...
Judy Birkin
Larry D. Ferrell ...
Rod Tessley
Susie Toomey ...
Sally Tessley
Kelly Toomey ...
Lisa Tessley
Zemke (as Frank Taylor)


Tom and Mae Garvey are a hard working farming couple living with their two children on the east Tennessee farm owned by Tom's family for generations. They and many of their neighbors have hit hard times of late. A downturn in the economy has led to dwindling land prices. But the biggest problem of late has been that their crop land has been prone to flooding as the property is adjacent to a river. Manipulating the powers that be including a local senator and the local bank, Joe Wade, who also grew up in the area and now runs the local milling company that sets the local grain prices, is working behind the scenes to buy up the properties along the river for a song as he wants to build a dam which would flood the Garvey's and others riverfront properties. The dam would generate electricity, but more importantly for Joe it would provide irrigation opportunities for farm properties away from the river, such as his own. Tom already intensely dislikes Joe as he and Mae used to go together. ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

farm | river | tennessee | flood | raincoat | See All (42) »


An epic love story of today See more »




PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 January 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A folyó  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)


$8,800,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Mark Rydell has said of this film: "The River (1984) is a tribute to a vanishing America - - the America of the independent farm family. The Garvey family represent the lifestyle that made America work: continuity of generations, the passing on of traditions and of knowledge and skills from fathers to sons, from mothers to daughters - a way of life in which every member of the family is unique and necessary for the survival of all". See more »


[first lines]
Mae Garvey: Watch out, Tom! Beth, get in the truck! Tom! Are you hurt?
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Featured in At the Movies: Dune/Starman/Mass Appeal/Runaway (1984) See more »


A Little Heaven's Rubbing Off On Me
Performed by George Strait
Courtesy of MCA Recordings, Inc.
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User Reviews

still a relevant if not hard to watch film in these downtrodden times.
16 August 2011 | by (Scotland) – See all my reviews

Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek, are a young Farming family who battles not just the river of the title but also other matters such as the bank threatening to repossess their farm, and Scott Glenn plays a scrupulous land developer who plans to buy the farm to make way for a dam. together the family battles through the hard times in a desperate battle to hold on to their farm. Directed by Mark Rydell who directed such other fine American films 'The Reivers' 'The Rose' 'Harry & Walter go to New York' 'On Golden Pond' 'The River' is still a relevant if not hard to watch film in these downtrodden times. It also represents Mel Gibson at a time he was making quality fare. As usual Vilmos Zsigmond contributes terrific photography.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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