Thursday, March 11, 2010
Into the West: The River of No Return (1954)
River of No Return (1954). Romantic/adventure/western. Director: Otto Preminger. Cast: Marilyn Monroe, Robert Mitchum and Rory Calhoun.
In the beautiful Northwest Mountains 1875, there is a small town made up tents filled with saloons, gamblers and entertainers trying to make a living. Just released from prison, Matt Calder rides into the city looking for his 9-year-old son, who he had sent there from Illinois. When he finds his son Mark, the boy insists on saying goodbye to Kay, the saloon singer who has been keeping an eye on him. Kay scolds Calder for leaving his son alone. He thanks Kay and quickly leaves. On the ride home, Calder promises Mark that they are going to have a good life together.
At the saloon, Kay's fiance, gambler Harry Weston, rushes in to tell her that he has won a gold claim in a poker game and must go to the city to file the deed. Kay believes that Weston cheated to get the money, but he talks her into go along. Soon, they are floating in a raft down the river toward the big city. They have trouble in the rapids, but fortunately they are near Calder's farm, and are pulled to safety.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when Calder tells Weston that he is crazy to brave the river. Weston offers to buy his rifle and horse so that he can ride to the city. Calder says that he needs his rifle and horse to protect the farm. Weston steals the rifle and horse and claims that he will return them, then knocks him out when Calder tries to stop him. Stunned, Kay decides to stay behind and take care of Calder while Weston rides off. When Calder comes to, he sees that Indians have been watching and are about to attack, so he quickly loads Mark and Kay onto the raft and head down the river. Calder watches as the farm is burns. That night, as they camp by the river, Kay tries to explain that Weston is really not a bad man. When she realizes that Calder intends to go after Weston, she tries to cut the raft free, but Calder stops her . He does not understand her devotion to a man who would leave a child to die. She reminds him Harry never killed a man like he did. Mark overhears their argument and Matt is forced to tell the truth about his past to his son. They return to the river and so begins their adventure as they fight off Indians and the elements, trying to keep from starving and trying to learn each others' secrets. The story is charming and beautifully photographed. I thought Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe made a great team. The ending will pull at your heart strings.
The three pairs of jeans that Marilyn Monroe wore in the movie were among a collection of her personal items that were sold for $42,550 at auction at Christies Auction House to designer Tommy Hilfiger.
This movie was not the first meeting of Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe. Mitchum had worked at Lockheed Aircraft with Monroe's first husband, James Dougherty. The two had met on at least one occasion during the mid 1940s.
Marilyn Monroe's singing voice was dubbed by Gloria Wood.