Red River (1948)

12 Angry Men
John Wayne and Montgomery Clift

'Red River' is a Western adventure movie made in 1948, directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru and Walter Brennan. The script was written by Borden Chase and Charles Schnee, and is based on Chase's original serialised story "Blazing Guns on the Chisholm Trail", first published in 1946 in The Saturday Evening Post.

The movie has come to be regarded as a masterpiece of filmmaking and as one of the best Westerns ever made. It only received two Adademy Award nominations, one for Best Motion Picture Story for Borden Chase and one for Film Editing for Christian Nyby, and won neither. With hindsight there is a very good case for nominations at least, for Howard Hawks, John Wayne and Montgomery Clift.

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'Red River' tells the story of the first cattle drive from Texas to Kansas along what became known as the "Chisholm Trail". John Wayne plays Tom Dunson, a hard Texan rancher, who begins a difficult, almost impossible cattle drive over 1000 miles of hostile territory to the Kansas, Missouri railhead. Tension builds up between Dunson and his adopted son, 'Matt' Garth, played by Montgomery Clift, making his screen debut, and the journey gives plenty of opportunity for exciting action sequences, gunfights, cattle stampedes and Indian attacks plus a great climax - a final confrontation between Wayne and Clift.

'Red River' is a great film, a marvellous mixture of old-fashioned, violent Western adventure, combined with a more thoughtful, character driven interplay between the main participants and a depiction of the changing nature of the West. Wayne's character represents the old system, where violence and totalitarian methods rule, but which is being supplanted by Clift's new, more humane, and more egalitarian system. The acting is first class, particularly from Wayne and Montgomery Clift, ably backed up by Joanne Dru, Walter Brennan and John Ireland. The powerful impact of the film is accentuated by the rousing score by Dimitri Tiomkin. A true classic movie.

Main Cast

John Wayne ... Thomas Dunson
Montgomery Clift ... Matthew 'Matt' Garth
Joanne Dru ... Tess Millay
Walter Brennan ... Nadine Groot
Coleen Gray ... Fen
Harry Carey ... Mr. Melville
John Ireland ... Cherry Valance
Noah Beery Jr. ... Buster McGee
Harry Carey Jr. ... Dan Latimer
Chief Yowlachie ... Quo
Paul Fix ... Teeler Yacey
Hank Worden ... Sims Reeves
Ray Hyke ... Walt Jergens
Wally Wales ... Old Leather
Mickey Kuhn ... Young Matt


Director ... Howard Hawks
Co-Director ... Arthur Rosson
Producer ... Howard Hawks
Screenplay ... Borden Chase, Charles Schnee
Original Story ... Borden Chase
Music ... Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography ...Russell Harlan
Format ... B & W
Distribution Company ... United Artists
Release date ... September 30, 1948
Running time ... 133 minutes

Academy Awards

No Wins:
Two Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Story ... Borden Chase
Best Editing ... Christian Nyby