Red River Review

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Tom Dunson (John Wayne) has a cattle empire and some tyrannical ways. His adopted son turns against him, and steals the herd, leaving Dunson swearing bloody revenge.


A Western remake of Mutiny On The Bounty, this is a considerably deeper film than its source. Grizzled cattle baron Tom Dunson becomes a tyrant as he tries to lead a cattle drive up into Missouri, prompting his sensitive adopted son Matthew Garth (Montgomery Clift) to rebel and steer the herd West by a safer route to Abilene.

Though Dunson admires his guts, he nevertheless swears to track him and shoot him dead, leading to one of the most emotional climaxes in the genre as the two men face off among milling cattle in the Abilene streets.

Howard Hawks stages the definitive cow opera with beautiful, lyrical, exciting sequences of stampeding, rough weather, cowboying and Indian skirmishes. The leads are at their very best, with sterling support from Walter Brennan as the toothless coot, John Ireland as a lanky gunslinger and Joanne Dru as a gal who can take an arrow in the shoulder without hardly flinching.

Beautifully directed with a lovely visual lyricism, this film packs a western punch with perfect performances and a fine script.