Retrospective 2015

Red River

Howard Hawks
USA 1948
132 min

The first of Howard Hawks’s five westerns, RED RIVER is the epic story of a post-civil war cattle drive up the Chisholm Trail. It’s a landmark film that brought a new psychological complexity to the genre and gave John Wayne the first truly challenging role of his career. Anticipating his unsympathetic Ethan Edwards in THE SEARCHERS, Wayne plays Tom Dunson, a middle-aged Texas land baron acting with equal ruthlessness whether dealing with his Mexican neighbors in Texas or the hired hands he employs on the hazardous journey to a railhead up north. The film introduced to the screen Montgomery Clift as Matt Garth, Dunson’s quiet, gentlemanly adopted son. He revolts against his increasingly brutal father halfway through the journey and takes the herd on a different, less dangerous route. Certain characteristic Hawksian themes occur in the film, most notably the notion of tough professionals working together on a joint enterprise, the presence of a strong-minded woman holding her own in male company, and underlying hints of homoeroticism. When RED RIVER went into production, John Ford, who had a paternal interest in Wayne, sent Hawks a letter saying: “Take care of my little Duke.” He did. (Philip French)

  • John Wayne - Thomas Dunson
  • Montgomery Clift - Matt Garth
  • Walter Brennan - Nadine Groot
  • Joanne Dru - Tess Millay
  • John Ireland - Cherry Valance
  • Borden Chase
  • Charles Schnee based on «The Chisholm Trail» by B. Chase
  • Russell Harlan
  • Richard DeWeese
  • Christian Nyby
  • Dimitri Tiomkin
  • John Datu Arensma
35 mm
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