Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.
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
Howard Hawks had great respect for John Wayne, even though many people didn't consider him a great actor. "He's a damn good actor. He does everything, and he makes you believe it," Hawks later commented. See more »
In long shot as the herd is driven across the river, Walter Brennan in the wagon distant from the camera is noticeably clutching the seat with the reins passing under him to a concealed driver as the vehicle descends steeply into the water. See more »
You're fast with that gun, Matt. Awful fast. But your heart's soft. Too soft. Might get you hurt some day.
Could be. I wouldn't count on it.
See more »
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 »
Some people think this is the greatest western ever made and they aren't far off the mark. It is certainly among the most expansive. Borden Chase adapted his own Saturday Evening Post story "The Chisholm Trail" but it was Howard Hawks who fleshed it out. There are some who see the relationship between Tom Dunson, (John Wayne), and his surrogate son Matthew Garth, (Montgomery Clift), as mirroring that of Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian and again that isn't too far off the mark either. Then there is the teasingly suggestive homo-erotic by-play that exists between Clift and gunslinger John Ireland, with a lot of emphasis on the affection each shares for the other's gun. But pat psychology aside the film is chiefly enjoyable for its sheer physicality. Indian attacks, gunfights, cattle stampedes and a great climatic confrontation between Wayne and Clift, it has them all.
Clift, a relative newcomer when the film came out, (it was only his second picture), is excellent. The camera loves him and he knows it. This is Clift at his most likable and laconic. But it is Wayne's tyrannical Tom Dunson who dominates every scene. It's a great piece of acting, the equal of his work in "The Quiet Man" and "The Searchers", maybe better. Those who say he was the same in every picture were surely blinkered. Given a great part like Dunson or Ethan Edwards he clearly understood the psychology of the role and what made the character tick. And for once, Dimitri Tiomkin's great score adds to, rather than detracts from, the film. Trivia time; in Peter Bogdanovitch's "The Last Picture Show" it was Hawk's "Red River" that was the last picture show.
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