Rio Grande (1950)
The last entry in the John Ford - John Wayne "Cavalry Trilogy", Rio Grande is regarded by many observers as the best of the three. Wayne stars as Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke, whose devotion to duty has cost him his marriage to his beloved Kathleen (Maureen O'Hara). When Yorke's son Jeff (Claude Jarman Jr.) is assigned to his father's post, Yorke is determined not to afford any preferential treatment to the boy-nor to exhibit any sign of love and affection. Sensing Jeff's heartache, Troopers Tyree (Ben Johnson) and Boone (Harry Carey Jr.) virtually adopt the boy, acting as surrogate parents. Yorke's resolve to remain oblivious to personal feelings is further tested when his estranged wife Kathleen arrives at the post, the better to look after her son-and possibly to buy back the boy's enlistment. Kathleen has been out of Yorke's life ever since the Civil War, when, under orders, Yorke and his second in command Sgt. Major Quincannon (Victor McLaglen) burned down Kathleen's family's plantation. After an attack by the Apaches, Yorke orders the post's women and children to be moved to safety. He further orders that Jeff lead the caravan to the safer post. Anxious to participate in the upcoming battle against the Apaches, Jeff resents his father's command; but Kathleen understands, and her love for her husband is rekindled. Jeff is later given an opportunity to prove his courage by rescuing a wagonload of children from the Indians. Before the long-anticipated reconcilation scene between Yorke, his wife and his son, there are several peripheral plot complications, many of these involving a murder charge hanging over trooper Tyree's head. Though Rio Grande turned out to be one of John Ford's most successful films, the director had initially refused to make it, acquiesing only after Republic promised him that he'd be permitted to film The Quiet Man once the cavalry picture was in the can. In addition to the expected cadre of John Ford regulars- Wayne, O'Hara, McLaglen, Johnson, Carey, Grant Withers, Ken Curtis, Jack Pennick et. al.--Rio Grande serves as the film debut for John Wayne's son Patrick. James Kevin McGuinness adapted his screenplay from the James Warner Bellah story Mission With No Record. … More
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Critic Reviews for Rio Grande
I like it better than the problematic Fort Apache; it's far simpler and more effective.
In this Ford's Western, part of a trilogy that also includes She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Wayne gets to play the tough biological and sociological father of his recruits, which include his son.
Audience Reviews for Rio Grande
Rio Grande's visual allure is famous, it's beautiful black and white, light and dark compositions are a masterwork. Personally I think the script is more impressive and is criminally overlooked. It always helps when you have two greats like John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara delivering the lines but the supporting actors are all really good too.More
The true sequel to Fort Apache in that you get to see what happens to Yorke and the remaining troops. This is a lot more of a relationship based movie than the other two, maybe that's what makes it so powerful. John Wayne's performance is even stronger this time around and he plays such a timeless character. The father/son storyline is such a classic representation, but so well done that it doesn't feel stale. John Ford truly is the greatest pioneer in film-making and took all the risks and leaps that no one else dared to do.More
Director John Ford agreed to make this one in a deal with Republic Pictures to secure financing for his pet project, The Quiet Man. Never one to do things half-ass, Ford secured a rather large budget and a top notch supporting cast for his two stars, John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. Rio Grande isn't Ford's most popular or most acclaimed film, but it's hard to deny it's prototypical old-west charm.More
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