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Though James Arness and Bruce Boxleitner are a good fit for the roles originated by John Wayne and Montgomery Clift and Ray Walston stands in very well as the old-timer sidekick to both instead of Walter Brennan, the television remake of Red River sinks right to the bottom.
The thing that I missed most from the original film was Dimitri Tiomkin's music, one of the finest film scores ever done. It really set the tone for the film, actually helped give you that sense of movement of the cattle, helped you empathize with the size and scope of the herd and the task that John Wayne undertook in the original.
If the producers had done nothing else, they should have paid whatever price was necessary to get that music.
Whole chunks of dialog from the original is taken. There is a new plot component in this film that of black cowboy Stan Shaw who Boxleitner and Arness take on despite racial objections from some of the ex-Confederate soldiers would have made. Shaw does a fine job and his inclusion is the only improvement on the original because in real life Wayne and Clift would no doubt have had black cowboys on their drive.
Laura Johnson as a Civil War widow is an extreme let down from Joanne Dru's slinky Tess Millay from the original. It wasn't Johnson's fault, just not a good idea to change her type. But that was necessary to set up the confrontation between Bruce Boxleitner and Gregory Harrison who has John Ireland's part which is also a big plot change from the original.
I think those who remember fondly the John Wayne classic will be much let down with this one.
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