Red River is about a man who is part of a wagon train, but he decides to leave and leave the woman who loves him behind with the wagon train. After he leaves, the wagon train is attacked and the woman is apparently killed. The man starts his own ranch near the Rio Grande River. A couple of people who work for a land owner try to stop him, but he kills one of them. He is assisted by an older man who drives a wagon and the only person who managed to escape the wagon train, a young boy who John Wayne ends up taking care of.
John Wayne delivers one of his best acting performances in this movie as one of the closest characters in this movie to the villain. He is not exactly a villain. However, he is very harsh and brutal when he takes charge of a cattle drive that is heading up north. He becomes so over bearing after killing a few of his people and threatening to hang a few more of them that all of his men rebel against him including his closest followers such as the boy he raised named Matt.
There is more action in this movie than there was in The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance. Native Americans attack several times and John Wayne, Matt and other people fight them off. Later on westerns would move away from having Native Americans as the villains when movies became more politically correct. A couple of stand out action scenes in this movie is when the Native Americans go after John Wayne when he leaves the wagon train at the beginning of the movie. John Waynen and his partner shoot a few of the Native Americans and one of the Native Americans tackles John Wayne into the Red River. John Wayne kills the Native American with a knife in the river making the river even redder than before. John Wayne also has a confrontation with Matt at the end of the movie. Another skilled gun slinger named Cherry has a short shoot out with John Wayne, but John Wayne quickly defeats Cherry, although he does take a bullet to the side. He then gets in a fist fight with Matt. People think that he is going to kill Matt, but actually they are just working out some differences western style.
John Wayne’s older, curmudgeonly partner in this movie is somewhat amusing. He loses his teeth in a card game to a Native American, and they exchange the teeth during the entire trip.
There is some considerable suspense when a stampede is caused by one of the less intelligent cowboys in this movie when he knocks some spoons over and causes a large noise. One of the cowboys is killed during the stampede, which is pretty gripping to watch. There is also a lot of suspense when John Wayne vows to chase after Matt and kill him when Matt takes his cattle drive away from him. Matt is being pursued from behind by John Wayne, but there are also signs that dangerous Native Americans are ahead of them, so they are doing this ambitious cattle drive with danger on both sides closing in on them. There is one scene at night in the fog when one of the cowboys has a nightmare and one of the guards is getting spooked because he thinks that Matt is John Wayne come to get them.
The hero in this movie is Matt because he is kind hearted, strong and brave. When John Wayne becomes too barbaric to be the leader Matt takes the cattle drive from him. Matt also makes sure that nobody gets hurt by John Wayne, although he did help John Wayne in a gun fight with a few of the cowboys when they pulled guns on John Wayne, which shows that even if he does not agree with John Wayne on some things, he is also loyal to him. He is brave because he goes to save a wagon train that is attacked by Native Americans. He is also strong because he is able to kill some of the Native Americans and at the end of the movie, he puts up a good fight against John Wayne who tries to beat him up. According to John Wayne’s partner Matt is a little bit faster with a gun than John Wayne even is.
The woman in this movie is incredibly annoying. She’s attractive I guess, but her personality drives me nuts. When Matt first meets her she teases him and slaps him across the face for no good reason. She then later falls in love with Matt and begs for Matt’s life with John Wayne. She comes across as being incredibly over emotional and kind of irritable.
The villains in this movie are the Native Americans who do not have a lot of character build up but are the villains in a couple of short action scenes. They are responsible for killing the woman John Wayne loves. John Wayne of all people is probably the most developed villain in this movie. He leads a cattle drive but turns into a barbarian and his men take his cattle drive away from him when he is about to hang a few of his men who have grown tired with him and are thinking about deserting.
At the beginning of the movie during the opening credits there is an old western song played that you will hear in a couple of other western movies such as Rio Bravo. The music during night time scenes when somebody is about to attack is good and suspenseful. The main setting for this movie is the country or desert of the old west. It’s classic western scenery seen in lots of other western movies but usually effective, particularly for a cattle drive, which is the main plot for this movie.
Red River is a good story with good action and good characters. It is considered another one of John Wayne’s best westerns.