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A River Runs Through It (1992)

PG | | Drama | 30 October 1992 (USA)
2:37 | Trailer

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The story about two sons of a stern minister -- one reserved, one rebellious -- growing up in rural Montana while devoted to fly fishing.



(story), (screenplay)
1,374 ( 951)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vann Gravage ...
Buck Simmonds ...
Fred Oakland ...
David Creamer ...


The true story about two boys growing up in rural Montana while rebelling against their stern minister father. Eldest brother Norman eventually leaves home and becomes a disciplined, grounded professor, while younger brother Paul becomes a rebellious journalist and descends into gambling and liquor. Their mornings are spent in school and religious study, while their afternoons are devoted to fly fishing for trout in the Blackfoot River. Written by Kale Whorton <nikko11@mind.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Story of an American Family.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for momentary nudity, and some language in a family drama | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

30 October 1992 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nada es para siempre  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$43,440,294 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The bottle of whiskey served to Paul and Ol' Rawhide in Black Jack's bars has the numbers 3-7-77 on the bottle. 3-7-77 was the symbol used by the Montana Vigilantes (Vigilance Committee) in Virginia City, Montana. People who found the numbers '3-7-77' painted on their tent or cabin knew that they had better leave the area or expect to be on the receiving end of vigilante justice. See more »


When Norman goes to Dartmouth, a modern-day truck is visible in the background. See more »


[first lines]
Older Norman: [narrating] Long ago, when I was a young man, my father said to me, "Norman, you like to write stories." And I said "Yes, I do." Then he said, "Someday, when you're ready you might tell our family story. Only then will you understand what happened and why."
See more »

Crazy Credits

The scenes on the Blackfoot River were actually shot on the Madison and other rivers around the Bozeman and Livingston areas. The "Big Blackfoot" has already become too polluted and populated to provide the image the scene required. See more »


Referenced in Melrose Place: A Christine Runs Through It (1998) See more »


Yes, We Have No Bananas
Written by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn (as Irving Conn)
Skidmore Music Co., Inc.
See more »

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User Reviews

This movie is very dear to my own Heart! Movies cannot get better than this!
3 March 1999 | by (US) – See all my reviews

I have read the short story by Norman Maclean, and the movie did justice to Norman Maclean's writing. My husband tends to reread it occasionally, and I myself have read it over and scenes of the movie keeps coming to mind. We have videos of many of Redford ‘s movies and we have watched "A River runs through it" many times. Redford is part of the "famdamily" as he is always around. We never get tired of Redford's perception of Norman Maclean writings, and the beauty of Montana. The script reminds me very much of my own upbringing as my father had the same calling as Mr. Maclean's father. According to "A River Runs Through It," "Methodists are Baptists who can read," a line which by the way is not in the short story, but I think that is a funny line! My husband and I are well-read Baptists!

I have heard a movie critic state that the pace of this movie is too slow. I disagree. As one search for inner peace, this is the type of movie that will make you contemplate the beauty of nature in three/four rhythm of the metronome. The photography is outstanding! The acting is great. I love the scene where Norman and Paul as boys talked and wondered whether one could be a fly fisher or a boxer! Then as adult Paul played by Brad Pitt (Se7ven) is the "perfect guy" who needs help with his alcoholism but will not accept it. The same applies to Neal Burns, who uses worms as bait, he also needed help but would not accept the fact that he needed help. The scene where Paul refuses to eat oatmeal and the entire family has to wait an eternity to say grace! Finally after hours, they all kneel around the table to say: "Grace!" and they all leave. But the oatmeal stayed on the plate! That scene where the two love birds and their tattoos on their posteriors! That is funny! The sunburn! The drive back home where Jessie Burns (Emily Lloyd) decides to go via the train line! Beautiful dialogue when Norman proposes to Jessie because he wants her to come to Chicago with him!

Redford himself does a superb job as a narrator. I could not stop myself from comparing Brad to the young Redford (Barefoot in the Park). The nominated Director, Producer, Actor, is a visionary who deserves to be praised for his advancement not only in the cinema in the US but around the world. I am glad to live in nineteen hundred because I have seen the beginning of the black and white television, the movies and all the technology and special effects, to be able to watch videos at home and to live in the same century as Redford because I have had the chance to see his works. Redford needs no special effects to show us the beauty of Montana in this masterpiece. The river to me means that line that separates life from death, memories and realities. Redford shows the hands of the Creator so magnificently and a river runs through it.

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