Friday, August 29, 2008

Stars trek

The Fox Movie Channel's lunchtime movie today was The River's Edge. The basic plot is that Ray Milland plays a robber who comes in to the life of Arizona rancher Anthony Quinn, asking Quinn to take him across the border to Mexico. Thanks to a plot twist, the two men end up going with Quinn's wife (the lovely-to-look-at Debra Paget), who just also happens to have been Milland's ex-girlfriend. One scene involves the three main characters waiting out a storm in a cave, which reminded me that this plot of a trek (especially with spending a night in a cave) is a cliché I've sen several times in the past.

It's been done in The Naked Spur, which I recommended about a month ago. Instead, I'd like to recommend a third movie with a similar trek, River of No Return.

The basic story of River of No Return involves Robert Mitchum as a widowed farmer who is living with his son in an area where there's a gold rush on, and where the Indians have not been fully subdued. Into his life one day raft Rory Calhoun and his girlfriend, saloon singer Marilyn Monroe. Apparently, Calhoun is taking Monroe with him to the biggest town in the area to get married, but he's also got a bit of a dark past. Mitchum does, too, having shot a man in the back. Calhoun takes Mitchum's horse and rifle just in time for the Indians to come and attack, and everybody else, having no other option, take the raft and set off down the river.

It's here that the movie gets fun. The whole bit about the love triangle you can see coming a mile away can be ignored; instead, watch the movie for the trip down the river. You see, the river is about as impassable as the river in The African Queen, but our heroes try to go down it anyhow. And in River of No Return, the cinematography is frankly better in The African Queen. Both are movies that could benefit from being presented in a wide-screen format, but The African Queen was made before the advent of Cinemascope. River of No Return, on the other hand, was released in 1954, and with the big stars it had, it was only natural that Fox would go all out and film it in Cinemascope. The result is a really fun ride down a river bookended by a pair of contrived stories, about a love triangle and about a father's struggle to redeem himself in his son's eyes.

River of No Return is available on DVD, and is a fun movie to watch on a rainy day.

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