Red River (1948)

Red River (1948), produced and directed by Howard Hawks.

The two most prominent features of this massive cattle drive story are:

That post-War movie vision of youth will soon sour, derailing into juvenile delinquent and biker films.

The movie has a John Ford look (and uses some of his regulars), but is maybe a bit talkier and has more spice in the romance.

The ending is a mixed bag. We never quite trusted tough guy John Ireland but he was not actually a villain and it seems unjust to see him shot down. We didn't want Wayne and Clift to kill each other, but the happy ending resolution seems abrupt and "Hollywood".

I always enjoy seeing Joanne Dru, who I think was under-appreciated. I'll have to watch Wagon Master (1950) again; I recall her being extra cute there. She married John Ireland after this film; he was the second of her four husbands.

Some of the cattle drive is done with process shots, but we also have a real, vast herd and impressive shots of managing them, as when crossing the river. Some dangerous looking stunts.

A good bit: caught between enraged John Wayne and marauding Comanches, our drovers elect to keep ahead of the Duke.

Dimitri Tiomkin score. Photographed by Russell Harlan -- Gun Crazy (1950), Rio Bravo (1959), To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).

Hawks' first western.

Available on Blu-ray from Criterion. Some fine imagery, although a few of the scenes are from a much poorer source.