IMDb > The River (1984)
The River
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The River (1984) More at IMDbPro »

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Down 16% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Robert Dillon (story)
Robert Dillon (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for The River on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
19 December 1984 (USA) See more »
He showed her his strength, his courage, his incredible will. She showed him her love. [Theatrical Australia] See more »
Farming family battles severe storms, a bank threatening to reposses their farm, and other hard times in a battle to save and hold on to their farm. See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
Fighting invincible adversities as a genuine American virtue See more (8 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Mel Gibson ... Tom Garvey

Sissy Spacek ... Mae Garvey
Shane Bailey ... Lewis Garvey
Becky Jo Lynch ... Beth Garvey

Scott Glenn ... Joe Wade
Don Hood ... Senator Neiswinder

Billy Green Bush ... Harve Stanley

James Tolkan ... Howard Simpson
Bob W. Douglas ... Hal Richardson

Andy Stahl ... Dave Birkin
Lisa Sloan ... Judy Birkin
Larry D. Ferrell ... Rod Tessley
Susie Toomey ... Sally Tessley
Kelly Toomey ... Lisa Tessley

Frank Hoyt Taylor ... Zemke (as Frank Taylor)
Ivan Green ... Smoot
Desmond Couch ... Wilderfoot
Charles G. Riddle ... Youngdall
Jim Antonio ... Dan Gaumer

Samuel Scott Osborne ... Billy Gaumer
Amy Rydell ... Betty Gaumer
David Hart ... Harley
Barry Primus ... Roy
Mark Erickson ... Baines

Jack Starrett ... Swick

Charles Robinson ... Truck
Dean Whitworth ... Doctor
Chuck Hanson ... Fat Man (as Charles S. Hanson)
Ira M. Quillen II ... TV Weatherman
Matt Bearson ... First Employee
Timothy Shadden ... Second Employee
Elizabeth Lane ... Secretary
Gary Gershaw ... Drifter
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Directed by
Mark Rydell 
Writing credits
Robert Dillon (story)

Robert Dillon (screenplay) and
Julian Barry (screenplay)

Produced by
Robert Cortes .... producer
Edward Lewis .... producer
Original Music by
John Williams 
Cinematography by
Vilmos Zsigmond 
Film Editing by
Sidney Levin 
Casting by
Lynn Stalmaster 
Production Design by
Charles Rosen 
Art Direction by
Norman Newberry 
Set Decoration by
Jane Bogart 
Costume Design by
Joe I. Tompkins 
Makeup Department
Pete Altobelli .... assistant makeup artist
Lynn Del Kail .... hair stylist
Brenda Todd .... makeup artist
Production Management
Terry Carr .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Matt Bearson .... dga trainee
Christopher Wilkinson .... second unit director (as Chris Wilkinson)
Robert Yannetti .... second assistant director
Tena Psyche Yatroussis .... second assistant director
Jerry Ziesmer .... first assistant director
Art Department
Jimmy Day .... carpenter foreman
Tim Donelan .... swing gang
David F. Klassen .... set designer
Donald Krafft .... lead man
Sherman Labby .... production illustrator
William Maldonado .... construction coordinator
Mitch Mitchell .... greensman
Leonard Monfredo .... painter foreman
Nick Navarro .... set designer (as Nicanor Navarro)
Bob Nohles .... carpenter foreman
William Ladd Skinner .... set designer
John Slatsky .... drapery
Sonny Van Hecke .... assistant property master
Robert J. Visciglia Sr. .... property master
John Alvin .... poster artist (uncredited)
Peg McClellan .... illustrator (uncredited)
James Passanante .... stand-by painter (uncredited)
Sound Department
Lee Alexander .... sound recordist: second unit
Nick Alphin .... sound re-recording mixer
Ed Bannon .... foley recordist
Duke Brown .... sound apprentice
Neil Burrow .... sound editor
Joseph Geisinger .... cable person
Hector C. Gika .... sound assistant
Stephen Katz .... sound recordist: second unit
Greg Orloff .... foley recordist
Richard Portman .... supervising re-recording mixer
Rod Rogers .... sound assistant
David M. Ronne .... production sound mixer
Kay Rose .... supervising sound editor
Jerry Rosenthal .... sound editor
Joan Rowe .... foley artist
T.E. Sadler .... foley recordist (as Tim Sadler)
Victoria Rose Sampson .... sound editor
Jack Schrader .... sound editor
John B. Schuyler .... boom operator
Larry Singer .... adr editor
Stephanie D. Singer .... sound apprentice
Chester Slomka .... sound editor
Robert Thirlwell .... sound re-recording mixer
John Roesch .... foley artist (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Guy Faria .... special effects
Thomas Love .... special effects
Stan Parks .... special effects supervisor
Ken Pepiot .... special effects supervisor
David Simmons .... special effects
Paul Stewart .... special effects
Visual Effects by
Syd Dutton .... matte artist
Bill Taylor .... matte photographer
Rick Avery .... stunts
Clay Boss .... stunts
Jophery C. Brown .... stunts
Blair Burrows .... stunts
Mike De Luna .... stunts
Tom Elliott .... stunts
Richard Epper .... stunts
Harper Flaherty .... stunts
Alan Gibbs .... stunt coordinator
Alan Gibbs .... stunts
Will Harper .... stunts
Johnny Hock .... stunts
Paula Marie Moody .... stunts
Bennie Moore .... stunts
Mark Orrison .... stunts
Branscombe Richmond .... stunts
Mario Roberts .... stunts
Spike Silver .... stunts
Camera and Electrical Department
Norman Ash .... electrician
William D. Barber .... assistant camera (as Bill Barber)
Michael Barrett .... electrician
John J. Connor .... additional photographer: second unit (as John Jennings Connor)
John J. Connor .... camera operator
Dick Deats .... key grip
Jessie Deats .... grip
Michael Gershman .... camera operator
Gregg Guellow .... best boy grip
Robert Heine .... assistant camera
Ray Kinzer .... key grip: second unit
Jack Kirk .... gaffer: second unit
Peter Kuttner .... assistant camera: second unit
J. Michael McClary .... assistant camera
Michael McGowan .... camera operator
Fred L. McLane .... assistant camera
Rexford L. Metz .... additional photographer: second unit
Tony Moran .... grip
Ken Nishino .... assistant camera
Brent Poe .... electrician
Steven Poster .... director of photography: second unit (as Steven B. Poster)
Dutch Presley .... best boy electric
Troy Rushing .... electrician
Hank Sheppherd .... grip
James M. Sheppherd .... dolly grip
Philip Sloan .... best boy electric (as Phil Sloane)
Stuart A. Spohn .... gaffer
Pat Thompson .... electrician
Joseph D. Urbanczyk .... cinematography intern: AFI
Ted Varnadoe .... best boy electric
D. Michael Wheeler .... assistant camera
Harry Wittis .... generator operator
Randy Woodside .... best boy electric
James Zenk .... still photographer
John J. Connor .... director of photography: second unit (uncredited)
Casting Department
Barbara Harris .... voice casting
Jody Hummer .... extras casting
Barry Primus .... casting consultant
Shirley Fulton Crumley .... location casting (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Darryl M. Athons .... costumer
Greg Hall .... costumer
Peni Mandel .... costumer
Hugo Peña .... costumer
Pamela Wise .... costumer
Editorial Department
Beau Barthel .... assistant film editor
Donah Bassett .... negative cutter
Robert Frazen .... assistant film editor
Aubrey Head .... color timer
Karen Kory .... apprentice film editor
Stephen R. Myers .... apprentice film editor
Rick Sparr .... associate film editor
Music Department
Thomas A. Carlson .... assistant music editor
Sandy DeCrescent .... orchestra manager
Warren Luening .... musician: trumpet solo
Herbert W. Spencer .... orchestrator
Tommy Tedesco .... musician: guitar solo
James Walker .... musician: flute solo
Dan Wallin .... music recording mixer
Kenneth Wannberg .... music editor
Tom Boyd .... musician: oboe soloist (uncredited)
Transportation Department
Bob Cornell .... transportation co-captain
Chuck Hanson .... transportation coordinator
Jim Johnson .... transportation captain
Mike Robinson .... driver: star trailer (uncredited)
Other crew
Julie Adams .... dialect coach
Bruce Bahrenburg .... unit publicist
Richard Dixon .... production accountant
Gary Gershaw .... production assistant
Susan Joy Harris .... assistant: Mr. Cortes
Mable Lawson-McCrary .... production assistant: second unit (as Mable Lawson McCrary)
Doralee Leon .... assistant: Mr. Lewis
Larry Little .... production assistant
Earl McClintock .... location projectionist
Richard Meleckian .... agricultural consultant
Patty Mitchell .... production assistant
Zeljko Negovetic .... animal trainer
Trish Niehaus .... production secretary: Alabama
Betsy Norton .... script supervisor
Joe O'Har .... location manager
Barbara Pensiero .... production secretary: Tennessee
Marty Pessin .... assistant production accountant
Willie Radcliff .... craft service
Stephanie Saunders .... assistant: Mr. Rydell
David C. Thomas .... location manager (as David Thomas)
Jeffrey White .... production assistant
Joan Wolpert .... production coordinator
Ron Bledsoe .... assistant animal trainer (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
122 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Director Mark Rydell once said of actress Sissy Spacek: "She is the consummate American rural young woman, with strength and fiber and a luminous quality".See more »
[first lines]
Mae Garvey:Watch out, Tom! Beth, get in the truck! Tom! Are you hurt?
See more »
A Little Heaven's Rubbing Off On MeSee more »


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10 out of 13 people found the following review useful.
Fighting invincible adversities as a genuine American virtue, 15 February 2006
Author: Andreas Niedermayer ( from Klagenfurt, Austria

The River features a decent portrayal of the harsh life of American farmers and delivers a fine message that stands as the epitome of genuine American virtues. It is the story of Tom Garvey (Mel Gibson) and his family. They cultivate land close to the banks of the Tennessee River and have to fight floods and financial crises while one of the local capitalists plans to build a reservoir and wants them to abandon their land. Tom and his wife Mae (Sissy Spacek) are unwilling to yield. They rather chose to continue their inhuman struggles and stick to the grounds of their ancestors. What follows is a desperate and almost destructive fight to survive against adversities that seem invincible.

Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek are portrayed as a loving couple that would never back down. Despite mounting pressure and considerable setbacks it is a question of honor and integrity for them to hold on. Due to financial reasons, Tom takes a job as a factory worker and has to leave Mae with the work at home. Mae is a rugged but also very sensitive and determined woman. She is not as stubborn as her husband and does indeed show signs of wavering and despair. Yet she is as dogged as he is when it comes to defend their land and their family. This is where both get their strength from. Land and family. The most important values for Americans. As long as there is land, and as long as the family is intact, there is always hope. Whatever adversity is thrown upon you – natural or man-made – backing down is no option. The movie lives from this emotional and psychologically compelling commitment and brings these genuine American virtues to the fore with sincere authenticity and without glossing over the facts. The life of the family is portrayed in all its depressing hardships and stands as a symbol for the bold ambitions and the perseverance of the pioneers of the historical frontier. At the same time Tom and Mae embody natural virtues of not just Americans but all humans.

Apart from the very obvious emphasis on courage and steadfastness, the movie provides visually intriguing sequences. The camera work is sublime and manages to capture at least some of the most picturesque images of the Tennessee River. The entire movie is shot on location in the Volunteer State along the banks of the great river. The scenes shot at night and during heavy rain are stunning and require substantial experience.

The River is indeed more than an average movie. Its story is simple but compelling. The characters are decently portrayed and the message is both appealing and inspirational. Storyline developments are sometimes still too slow and some scenes are occasionally long-winded. It is a typical American movie, thus elaborating strongly on American issues and American virtues.

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