Sunday, 19 May 2013
Red River 
Red River, humorously referred to as a ‘cow opera’, remains a gripping Western, if not for anything else, for its breathtaking scope and audacity. Its themes of gargantuan human ambitions, male ego, masculinity and father-son duality, with Biblical overtones and veiled commentary on the stomping march of capitalism, were accentuated by an alternately classical and revisionist Western framework. It was also the first time that the two quintessential American icons, Howard Hawks and John Wayne, teamed up. The film begins with Tom Dunston (Wayne), a searing individualist, breaking out from his group to start his own cattle ranch. Many years later, with the economic slowdown brought on by the Civil War, he plans to take his herd of around 10,000 cattle nearly a thousand miles across the country, from Kansas to Texas, in the search for a better beef market. Joining him, among others, is Matthew Garth (Montgomery Clift), his surrogate son. With the cattle drive, at once the height of human ambition and the depth of human folly, began a jaw-dropping odyssey that was as much physical as it was psychological in the way it brought out the worst in Dunston and the best in Garth, and tested the limits of all. And when Garth eventually rebels against the increasingly draconian Dunston, after a spectacularly staged stampede, darker dimensions got added to the epic and tense narrative. The happy resolution of the conflict was perhaps the sole blemish of this masterpiece. Wayne’s powerful turn as the bitter, dictatorial and imposing anti-hero would rank as second only to his superlative performance in Ford’s The Searchers.
Director: Howard Hawks
Genre: Western/Revisionist Western/Psychological Drama/Epic