Rio Grande (1950)
John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara
'Rio Grande' is a Western adventure movie, made in 1950, directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. It is the third of John Ford's unofficial "cavalry trilogy," following 'Fort Apache' in 1948 and 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon' in 1949. John Wayne starred in all three films.
The film is based on a short story from 1947, "Mission With No Record" by James Warner Bellah, and was allegedly undertaken by John Ford in order to get backing for his financially risky personal project, the romantic comedy about Ireland, 'The Quiet Man'. The president of Republic Pictures, Herbert Yates, had no confidence in the script of 'The Quiet Man', and wanted the more obviously commercial 'Rio Grande' to be released first to recoup possible future losses. It is ironic that when 'The Quiet Man' was eventually released two years after 'Rio Grande' it became a critical and financial hit for Republic Pictures and is now regarded as a John Ford classic.
'Rio Grande' is particularly memorable for the first pairing of Maureen O'Hara opposite Wayne. There is a powerful, totally believable onscreen chemistry between them and they went on to make a further four films together. They are well supported by the so-called "John Ford stock company" with superb efforts particularly from Harry Carey, Ben Johnson and Victor Mclaglen.
The action takes place after the Civil War involves Yankee Captain Kirby York (John Wayne) in charge of an outpost on the Rio Grande and his estranged Southern wife Kathleen (Maureen O'Hara). One of Kirby's new recruits is their son whom he hasn't seen for 15 years. Kirby and Kathleen fall in love again and he has to battle a bloody Indian war whilst reconciling the broken lives of his family.
One point of interest is that 'Rio Grande' is one of only three movies in which Wayne wears a beard. The other two are 'Texas Terror' in 1935 and 'Back to Bataan' in 1945.
'Rio Grande' tends to be overshadowed by Ford's other works but it is an excellent film with a tightly constructed plot, well-developed characters excellentlly acted by a good cast, and an uplifting message about family values and the spirit of heroism.
Main CastJohn Wayne ... Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke
Maureen O'Hara ... Kathleen Yorke
Ben Johnson ... Trooper Tyree
Claude Jarman Jr. ... Trooper Jeff Yorke
Harry Carey Jr. ... Trooper Daniel "Sandy" Boone
Victor McLaglen ... Sgt. Maj. Quincannon
Chill Wills ... Dr. Wilkins
J. Carrol Naish ... Gen. Philip Sheridan
Grant Withers ... Deputy Marshal
Peter Julien Ortiz ... Capt. St. Jacques
Gaylord Pendleton ... Capt. Prescott
Karolyn Grimes ... Margaret Mary
CreditsDirector ... John Ford
Producer ... Merian C. Cooper, John Ford
Distribution Company ... Republic
Screenplay ... James K. McGuinness, based on the story by James Warner Bellah
Music ... Victor Young
Cinematography ... Bert Glennon, Archie J. Stout
Format ... B & W
Release date ... November 15, 1950
Running time ... 105 minutes
Academy AwardsNo Nominations: