RIO GRANDE (1950) B/W 105m dir: John Ford
w/John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Ben Johnson, Claude Jarman Jr., Harry Carey Jr., Chill Wills, J. Carroll Naish, Victor McLaglen, Grant Withers, Peter Ortiz
This film is the third and final installment in director Ford's cavalry trilogy (following FORT APACHE and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON). Wayne plays a tough cavalry commander who is waiting for orders to cross the river so he can deal with marauding Indians. He's also coming to grips with his feelings for his son, who, after dropping out of West Point, has just enlisted in the cavalry to prove himself to his father. When the boy's mother, Wayne's estranged wife (O'Hara), shows up the tension mounts. All this adds up to an epic western with plenty of drama and beautiful scenery.
From The Movie Guide: "An excellent post-Civil War tale with romance (Wayne and O'Hara), humor (Johnson, Carey, and Victor McLaglen), and music (a few tunes by the Sons of the Pioneers), RIO GRANDE is one of Ford's great achievements. As in FORT APACHE and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON, Ford creates a powerful portrait of the wild, remote Southwest during the Indian wars, presenting the traditions and exploits of the old cavalry in very realistic terms, showing them in action as dirty, tired, wounded men performing their assignments in pain and discomfort and emphasizing the real glory of these soldiers as typified by their leader Kirby [Wayne]. The director's camera angles, broadly encompassing whole lines of riding cavalrymen, accentuate their prosaic nobility and dedication to taming the frontier. Much of the score [by Victor Young] nicely supports the story, indicating the cavalrymen's Irish background and sentimentality, especially in the inclusion of the fine Sons of the Pioneers song, 'I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen.'"