Thursday, August 22, 2013

227. RIO GRANDE (1950)

Running Time: 105 minutes
Directed By: John Ford
Written By: James Warner Bellah, James Kevin McGuinness, from the story Mission With No Record by James Warner Bellah
Main Cast: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Ben Johnson, Claude Jarman Jr., Harry Carey Jr.
Click here to view the trailer


It seems like every season at least one movie comes along and makes me take a second look at the title of the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die" book and make sure it's not the "1001 Movies You Must Avoid At All Costs in Your Lifetime". The title hasn't changed, but I'm here to tell you that "Rio Grande" was tough watch #1 of the season.

This film, like many John Ford films, centers around John Wayne, who this time time around plays Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke, a Union officer, who lead his men into and out of battle in the Civil War and is now stationed in Texas, where he must defend a group of settlers against an Apache tribe. The film opens with a group of new recruits being assigned to Yorke, one of which is the son he hasn't seen in fifteen years, Jeff Yorke (Jarman Jr.). Enter the lieutenant Colonel's estranged wife, Kathleen (Yorke), who wants nothing more that for her son to discharge himself from the army, but we're in the midst of a fictional war dammit and of course, he won't do that. Later, after an Apache attack, the lieutenant Colonel is ordered to lead his men across the Rio Grande, where they'll mount a counter attack on the Apaches. There's also this whole side plot involving Trooper Tyree (Johnson), another of the new recruits, who is wanted for manslaughter, but, to be honest, I kind of mentally checked out of this one at the halfway mark, so I'll leave you to discover the rest for yourself.

Man, I'll be honest, I'm REALLY starting to hate John Ford. Not only did he serve me this dish of cold soup, but he was also responsible for "How Green Was My Valley" and "The Quiet Man". Couple those two with "Rio Grande" and it's enough to make me forget just how good "Stagecoach", "Judge Priest", "The Grapes of Wrath", "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" and "My Darling Clementine" were and send me down the path to remembering John Ford as someone who bore me more often than he excited me. Now normally I HATE it when people use the word boring to describe a bad movie (a pet peeve), but I'll let it slide when it comes to detailing "Rio Grande". I mean, this film was coma inducing! I'm not a John Wayne fan, nor am I fan of these old rolling hills, traditional westerns and that's just the kinds of western that this is. Like I said in my "Winchester '73" review, if I have to watch a western, I'd rather it be a B western, because that's when plot usually takes rank over traditional, formulaic westerns, which is what Ford seemingly excelled at. Trust me kids, "Rio Grande" is very of it's time and was probably even behind it's time in 1950. By then, I'd like to think that film noir and crime stories were all the rage, hence the success of Billy Wilder, John Huston and Alfred Hitchcock around that time. I've said it before and I'll say it again, "Rio Grande" is that type of film that you'd expect to walk in on your grandparents watching, as they huddle under an old, knitted afghan and remember the "good 'ol days". It's boring and as much as I love old films, in 2013, this just isn't working anymore, not on this reviewer anyway. If I had to pick one redeeming quality, it would be the scene where the new recruits ride two horses, one foot on the back of each horse and even jump a fence while doing so. That was pretty fun to watch. Otherwise, take a pass here.

RATING: 1/10  Yep, gotta' go as low as I can go on this one, because I hated it that much and couldn't stop staring at the DVD clock on this one, hoping it'd just END!


August 22, 2013  4:56pm


  1. .. and just to make the point after the previous comment.. Back to a Goodo'le fashioned Wayne movie than shows why I used to dislike westerns as a genre so much.
    "Yehaww.. lets just go kill us some injuns. Gee Col Yorke yous'e sure is one fine man. Yup, co'me here woman, let me kiss you and have you melt into my arms to prove that.. Swoon swoon, melt melt. The end."
    Let's move on please.


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