Rio Grande Reviews
Unlike the first two cavalry films, Rio Grande focuses more on the love between an Army officer and his wife, and the pain his life causes her. This pain is made even worse by the fact that their son has chosen to follow his father's way of life, and winds up serving in his father's command. When, as is inevitable, Indians flee their reservation, the family becomes embroiled in war against the Apaches (whom, everyone knows, were the toughest, most ruthless and evil Indian fighters of them all := ).
This is where Ford starts to swerve away from ordinary westerns. While his Indians are fierce and tough, Ford tries to show in all the Cavalry films that they are also honourable and fighting for home and family, not because they are evil. And while Wayne's character must pursue his Indians until they're either captured or dead, he is not without both sympathy and respect, and with the knowledge that it is the white man's treatment of them that is at the heart of the war.
It's more than certain that John Ford has become my favorite director. His ability to make stories with depth, compassion and remarkable truth has caused his films to last. I hope that you will see all of the Cavalry Trilogy, and then seek out all of his other films.
*The other films in the trilogy are Fort Apache (1948) and She Wore A Yellow Ribbon (1949).
Rio Grande may not be as memorable as the first 2, but it's got all the right ingrediants that make a great western.
Action scenes are great, as is the scenery and cinematography. All this you would expect from John Ford. Shooting a western in black-and-white does not sound like the best idea, but Ford makes it work.
Great performance by John Wayne. He gets to show off a bit more acting range in this movie. There is the usual action-hero John Wayne, and then the romantic, concerned husband/father John Wayne.
Maureen O'Hara is wonderful in the female lead, and stunningly beautiful even in black-and-white.
Good support from Claude Jarman Jr and Chill Wills. J Carroll Naish gets the award for looking exactly like the historical figure he is portraying (General Sheridan).
Only negatives are the singing and that there are a few moments where the plot seems to briefly stall. All the singing and music started to feel like padding after a while. The plot has some "clunky" moments, where you thought - why is that necessary? Minor issues, that's all.