FERNANDO’s CORNER ~ Posted January 1st, 2016
I bought the Criterion release of Howard Hawks’ “RED RIVER” (1948) which I had wanted to see properly for a while. Well, here I learned that there are two cuts, both available in this release: the 127 minutes Theatrical release, preferred by the director and the 133 minutes pre-release version which I chose to watch. I have yet to see the former. Does any of my fellow film buff pals tell me if there’s such a huge difference between both versions, which I plan to see soon anyway??
Well the Pre-release cut I saw is great. Wayne, Clift, Ireland, Brennan and Dru…..What a combination! Especially the interesting contrast between Wayne and Clift. I had forgotten completely about the first part of the film or had I never seen it in its entirety? I could not believe when I saw the lovely Coleen Gray as Wayne’s sweetheart at the beginning. What a heavenly creature she was, ( recently passing away August 3rd, 2015. ) The aging and/or rejuvenating make-up for both Wayne’s and Brennan’s characters is superb. Another thing I liked about the film was seeing John Wayne playing a more complex, flawed man around this time, when he usually played straightforward heroes.
Clift is the adopted son of Wayne who loses the only woman he ever loved or cared for, after she was killed by Indians while heading west. Clift’s character survived that raid. Brennan, of course is his sidekick. Wayne plays Thomas Dunson as an omnipotent, ruthless, demi-God who rules his ranch and his people with an iron fist. He’s become an embittered man who only lives for his ranch and his adopted son…but beware if this man feels betrayed. He reacts like “you killed my pride so I am gonna kill you…”
In the last portion of the film he becomes a fiend, stalking the men who “betrayed” him and especially his son…haunting them day and night… becoming a ghost, a nightmare….like Yahweh the Avenger….
This film is masterful and deserves multiple viewings, because it truly has many layers and readings.
CineMaven’s Note: If you wish to read more about Walter Brennan’s life, just mosey on over to the Silver Screen Oasis Message Board and read the Q & A with Brennan’s biographer Carl Rollyson.
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