WILD RIVER (1960) C widescreen 115m dir: Elia Kazan

w/Montgomery Clift, Lee Remick, Jo Van Fleet, Albert Salmi, Jay C. Flippen, James Westerfield, Big Jeff Bess, Robert Earl Jones, Frank Overton, Barbara Loden, Bruce Dern

From The Movie Guide: "Although it was not a great success at the box office (issue-oriented films were not what the public seemed to want in 1960), this dramatic tug-of-war between progress and tradition remains a memorable example of director Kazan at his best. Set in the 1930s, the story focuses on Clift, an agent for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which is in the process of clearing land to build much-needed dams. This project cannot be accomplished without the demolition of many homes and the relocation of their inhabitants. One of Clift's most unpleasant tasks is the removal of Van Fleet, an 80-year-old woman, from her home. Van Fleet, who has lived on her land for more than 50 years, refuses to leave. ...

"An emotionally charged movie that offers little respite for the viewer, WILD RIVER was skillfully scripted by [Paul] Osborne [based on the novels Mud on the Stars by William Bradford Huie and Dunbar's Cove by Borden Deal], masterfully directed by Kazan, and features excellent acting and strong production values. Shot on location in Tennessee at Lake Chickamunga, the Hiwassee River, and in the towns of Cleveland and Charleston, this film was the end of a 25-year dream for Kazan. He had been to the area in the mid-1930s and always wanted to do a movie about the TVA, but it took more than two decades to find a studio and the right script to fulfill his desire. Many nonprofessional Tennesseeans appear in the film, lending it a realism seldom seen when Hollywood extras are employed. Kazan's wife, Barbara Loden, plays a small role, and if you keep an eye out you'll see a very young Bruce Dern appearing in his first movie. However, Van Fleet's performance is the film's standout; though she was only 41 at the time the film was made, the actress is completely convincing as an 80-year-old, thanks in no small part to Ben Nye's wonderful makeup work. Clift also gives a fine performance. He was never easy to work with, as he had several personal problems, not the least of which was his drinking and his difficulty in coming to grips with his homosexuality. Reportedly, he'd promised to stay off the sauce for the picture and kept his word until the final week when he went on a bender that almost submarined the movie."