7.8/10
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Red River (1948)

Dunson leads a cattle drive, the culmination of over 14 years of work, to its destination in Missouri. But his tyrannical behavior along the way causes a mutiny, led by his adopted son.

Directors:

Howard Hawks, Arthur Rosson (co-director)

Writers:

Borden Chase (screenplay), Charles Schnee (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Wayne ... Thomas Dunson
Montgomery Clift ... Matt Garth
Joanne Dru ... Tess Millay
Walter Brennan ... Nadine Groot
Coleen Gray ... Fen (as Colleen Gray)
Harry Carey ... Mr. Melville (as Harry Carey Sr.)
John Ireland ... Cherry Valance
Noah Beery Jr. ... Buster McGee
Harry Carey Jr. ... Dan Latimer
Chief Yowlachie ... Quo (as Chief Yowlatchie)
Paul Fix ... Teeler Yacey
Hank Worden ... Simms Reeves
Mickey Kuhn ... Matt - as a Boy
Ray Hyke Ray Hyke ... Walt Jergens
Hal Taliaferro ... Old Leather (as Hal Talliaferro)
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Storyline

Fourteen years after starting his cattle ranch in Texas, Tom Dunston is finally ready to drive his 10,000 head of cattle to market. Back then Dunston, his sidekick Nadine Groot and a teen-aged boy, Matt Garth -who was the only survivor of an Indian attack on a wagon train - started off with only two head of cattle. The nearest market however is in Missouri, a 1000 miles away. Dunston is a hard task master demanding a great deal from the men who have signed up for the drive. Matt is a grown man now and fought in the Civil War. He has his own mind as well and he soon runs up against the stubborn Dunston who won't listen to advice from anyone. Soon, the men on the drive are taking sides and Matt ends up in charge with Dunston vowing to kill him. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Greatest Spectacle Ever! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

17 September 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The River Is Red See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$5,500,000, 31 December 1948

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,012,000, 31 December 1948
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original theatrical)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Montgomery Clift didn't warm to either Howard Hawks or John Wayne. He did occasionally take part in the nightly poker games that they organized where "they laughed and drank and told dirty jokes and slapped each other on the back. They tried to draw me into their circle but I couldn't go along with them. The machismo thing repelled me because it seemed so forced and unnecessary". See more »

Goofs

(at around 40 mins) In the poker game scene, a man is playing the guitar and singing. The guitar he is playing is a carved-top, F-hole guitar. This type of instrument would not be introduced until about 1900, decades after the movie is supposed to take place. See more »

Quotes

Nadine Groot: Never liked seeing strangers. Maybe it's because no stranger ever good newsed me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: Among the annals of the great state of Texas may be found the story of the first drive on the famous Chisholm Trail. A story of one of the great cattle herds of the world, of a man and a boy--Thomas Dunson and Matthew Garth, the story of the Red River D. See more »

Alternate Versions

An alternate version, usually shown on television, substitutes spoken narration (by Walter Brennan) to the shots of the pages of a diary and is eight minutes shorter than the original. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Van (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie
(a.k.a. "The Cowboy's Lament") (uncredited)
Traditional American ballad
Instrumental version is heard during burial scenes
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Epic Cattle Drive
19 July 2006 | by LechuguillaSee all my reviews

Dimitri Tiomkin's thunderous score sets the tone for this rousing story of cowboy ranchers in nineteenth century Texas headed north, with a thunderous herd of cattle in tow. It's the archetypal story of the American West, with its strong, ethical male leader, Thomas Dunson (John Wayne), and his pursuit of a big dream, set in an era when men were men, times were tough, hardships were inevitable, guns ruled, and Native Americans were the bad guys. What a saga ...

What makes "Red River" such a grand adventure is its high quality. Its story is simple, direct, exciting, and well told, with complex characters, interesting and sympathetic because they show weakness as well as strength. Dunson is a good man, but he's stubborn and headstrong. His semi-adopted son, Matt (Montgomery Clift), is good with a gun but a little softhearted. Dunson's chief sidekick is Groot (Walter Brennan), a cantankerous old buzzard who has problems with his teeth.

It's the relationship between these three men that is the heart and soul of "Red River". Trouble ensues along the way, you can be sure. And how that trouble unfolds and plays out presents viewers with engaging human drama, and humor, centered on these three main characters. The lonesome High Plains, with all its inherent risks, adds grandeur to the epic story.

At strategic points in the film, the page of a book appears on screen with text that briefly summarizes upcoming events. It's like we, the viewers, are reading a book about some long ago trailblazers. It's a technique that could have been intrusive. But here, it is handled with such finesse that it actually helps the narrative, by functioning as a transition from one sequence to the next.

The acting is fine. John Wayne is more than convincing as Dunson. Walter Brennan is characteristically funny. And Montgomery Clift is terrific. Had he maintained his looks, and if real-life circumstances not intervened, Monty could have been one of the truly top actors through at least the 50s and 60s.

If the film has a weakness, it might be the cinematography. Not often, but at times, the actors appear to be standing in front of a canvas, an effect that renders a shallow depth of field. Maybe this was the result of technical limitations of photography at the time the film was made.

There are few film westerns that can compare in quality with "Red River". And I don't know of any other cinematic cattle drives that are this good. So, the next time you herd your cattle to market, this is the film to watch. Even if you have no cattle, "Red River" is still a wonderfully entertaining cinematic experience.


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