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Wild River (1960)

Not Rated | | Drama, History, Romance | May 1960 (USA)
A TVA bureaucrat comes to the river to do what none of his predecessors have been able to do - evict a stubborn octogenarian from her island before the rising waters engulf her.


Elia Kazan


Paul Osborn (screenplay), William Bradford Huie (based on novels by) | 1 more credit »

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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


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Complete credited cast:
Montgomery Clift ... Chuck Glover
Lee Remick ... Carol Garth Baldwin
Jo Van Fleet ... Ella Garth
Albert Salmi ... Hank Bailey
Jay C. Flippen ... Hamilton Garth (as J.C. Flippen)
James Westerfield ... Cal Garth
Barbara Loden ... Betty Jackson
Frank Overton ... Walter Clark
Malcolm Atterbury ... Sy Moore


A young field administrator for the TVA comes to rural Tennessee to oversee the building of a dam on the Tennessee River. He encounters opposition from the local people, in particular a farmer who objects to his employment (with pay) of local black laborers. Much of the plot revolves around the eviction of an elderly woman from her home on an island in the River, and the young man's love affair with that woman's widowed granddaughter. Written by Sam Neff <samn@yang.earlham.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Wild Language...The Wild Hungers...The Wild Furies! See more »


Drama | History | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

May 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Woman and the Wild River See more »

Filming Locations:

Cleveland, Tennessee, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)| 4-Track Stereo


Black and White (archive footage)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Elia Kazan spent six months editing the film. See more »


The last part of the movie shows Fontana Dam. For some reason this picture has been reversed - the observation area is actually on the right of the dam not the left (creek side of dam). Also the last picture is not this dam. Fontana Dam is built straight where the last dam is curved. The curved dam is Calderwood Dam, the 2nd dam down the Little Tennessee River from Fontana Dam. See more »


Carol Garth Baldwin: When you go... take me with you. One day soon, you're gonna come to me and say, "Carol, I have to go." There won't be time to talk or to think of anything. And there'll be a car waitin', and then a plane, and you'll say "Carol, honey, I have to go..." Isn't that right?
Chuck Glover: [Softly] Yes, that is right.
Carol Garth Baldwin: [Pleading] Take me with you.
See more »


Featured in A Letter to Elia (2010) See more »


Abide with Me
Anglican Christian hymn
Lyrics from poem by Henry F. Lyte
Music "Eventide" by William H. Monk
[Heard during kids' bath]
See more »

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User Reviews

The traditionalist. . . the modernist. . . and a river between them.
24 January 2005 | by stephen-357See all my reviews

On May 18, 1933 the Federal Government under FDR's "progressive agenda", created the Tennessee Valley Authority, a vast scheme of regional development that involved, in part, the diverting of masses of water into valleys thus protecting large populations of people from the ravages of flooding rivers. Dams were created to assist in this enterprise and to harness the vast energy of the raging waters through turbines which in turn created electricity for communities that still lived in the "dark ages." WILD RIVER begins with stock news footage of the damage ravaged upon a community by a flood, in particular a heart rending first hand account of a man who has suffered a great loss. In comes the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to save the day, a bastion of progress with Chuck Glover (Montgomery Clift) as its representative. The TVA, in order to complete its mission, must relocate all the residents within a particular area slated for water relocation but Mrs Ella Garth, an old hard-as-nails woman living on a small island in the middle of the valley, refuses to leave her land for any price. This is the context of WILD RIVER, but for director Elia Kazan, the TVA and its surrounding controversy are a microcosm for America's growing pains and the divisions between North and South that have persisted since the Civil War brought them to a head. Kazan contrasts rugged individualism, so much a part of the Nation's heritage, with an activist Federal Government citing the best interests of the community. The traditional attachment that the South has to "the land", where "the elements" are an accepted part of life is contrasted with the North's reliance on technology to tame the elements. The sophisticated Montgomery, full of enthusiasm and conviction for his mission, is immediately jolted into reality first by the steadfast conviction of the old landowner (in a towering display of acting by Jo Van Fleet), then by overt Racism "for a minute I forgot where I was.", and finally by his own mixed emotions. His passions are aroused by Carol (Lee Remick), Mrs Garth's stepdaughter, who is suffering from under stimulation, both physically and mentally. Widowed for over two years, she lives with her two children and the old woman on the island. When the handsome, educated Chuck arrives on the scene, she finds in him a source of combustion to feed a very deep well of passion. Once ignited, the fire threatens to envelope Chuck's controlled existence and intensify Carol's feelings of displacement. Rarely has confusion, vulnerability and molten sexuality been rendered more effective by an actress. Remick completely dispenses with any pretense about her sexual and emotional hunger and sets the screen on fire! While still smoldering, she manages to convey her separate, but equally passionate emotions for man and child during a tender scene between Clift and her daughter.

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