Wild River (1960)

Wild River (1960)

Wild River



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Wild River Videos & Photos

Movie Info

Filmed on location in the Tennessee Valley, Wild River is set in the early 1930s. Montgomery Clift plays an idealistic TVA agent, assigned to convince the locals to move from their property so that a beneficial dam can be built. The principal holdout is feisty octogenarian Jo Van Fleet, who refuses to budge from her land, convinced that she will die if she ever gives an inch. Her prophecy turns out to be true, as Van Fleet becomes yet another sacrifice to progress. Clift also runs into … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Paul Osborn
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 15, 2013


as Chuck Glover

as Carol Garth Baldwin

as Ella Garth

as Hamilton Garth

as F.J. Bailey

as Cal Garth

as Joe John Garth

as Walter Clark

as Betty Jackson

as Jack Roper

as Barbara Baldwin

as Narrator

as Jim Baldwin

as Mayor Tom Maynard

as Winters
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Wild River

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for Wild River

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (6)

Both sections of the flavorful, vernacular-filled screen play have been given professional treatment.

Full Review… | February 19, 2015
New York Times
Top Critic

This 1960 drama is probably Elia Kazan's finest and deepest film, a meditation on how the past both inhibits and enriches the present.

Full Review… | February 19, 2015
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

In studying a slice of national socio-economic progress in terms of people, it catches something timeless and essential in the human spirit and shapes it in the American image.

Full Review… | February 19, 2015
Top Critic

One of [Kazan's] least theatrical and most affecting films.

Full Review… | November 18, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

Kazan's films are better known for showcasing stratospheric Method-emoting over visual expressiveness, which makes Wild River's gorgeous imagery a shock...

Full Review… | October 21, 2009
Time Out
Top Critic

Sympathetic to both sides, the movie pits tradition against progress, rugged individualism against the greater good.

Full Review… | October 14, 2009
Village Voice
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Wild River


Strong little known drama with excellent work from all involved.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

Will the river stay wild or be tamed? You can ask the same of the old woman who lives on the island about to be flooded or the other characters in this heartfelt melodrama. It features wonderful, yet restrained performances, particularly by Clift. The love story between Clift's character, the TVA representative and local girl Carol Garth (Lee Remick)is as important to the story as the TVA's struggle to evict the inhabitants of one island. Furthermore, the TVA and Clift struggle to drag the town into the 20th century, including some degree of racial integration.

Although much younger than these characters, having grown up in a similar town in TN, I found them and their town believeable. Wild River was filmed on location on the Hiawassee river near Charleston,TN. Finally,the cinematography is excellent. Elia Kazan and his crew did a superb job all around. Highly recommended.

Clintus M.
Clintus Maximus

Super Reviewer

In "Wild River," to curb deadly flooding along the Tennessee River and create jobs during the Great Depression, the Roosevelt Administration creates the Tennessee Valley Authority to build dams to control the flow of the river. By 1934, all but one landowner has sold their property, the exception being eighty-year old matriarch Ella Garth(Jo Van Fleet). Chuck Glover(Montgomery Clift) is the third man sent to persuade, not force, her, her family and sharecroppers to vacate before the island is flooded by the closing of the dam's gates.

Directed by Elia Kazan, "Wild River" is a well-photographed, if obvious, movie that succeeds by capturing a time and a place without being consdescending towards the rural inhabitants, especially in its use of unadorned faces(Hey, isn't that Bruce Dern?), while also having meaning for the present day. As shown by the opening footage, a documentary approach would have definitely been the way to go. The underlying theme is progress and Glover sometimes forgets exactly where he is in helping not only the white people of the valley who dominate the social structure, but also the blacks who he attempts to hire at the same wages against the wishes of racist businessmen, bringing electricity to all, regardless. He also has to combat Ella and her plantation mentality. She is another force of nature that progress is meant to curb. Without any doubt this is Jo Van Fleet's movie and it suffers badly when she is offscreen which is often, ceding much of the story to a romantic subplot.

Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Wild River Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Wild River on our Movie forum!