River of No Return (1954)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Director Otto Preminger's only western, River of No Return is set in Canada during the 19th century Gold Rush. Farmer Matt Calder (Robert Mitchum) is released from prison after serving a sentence for shooting a man in the back to protect a friend. He arrives in a small town to retrieve his young son, Mark (Tommy Rettig), who has befriended a sultry saloon singer, Kay (Marilyn Monroe). Matt is also friendly with Kay, and thanks her profusely for looking after Mark, but distrusts her paramour, Harry Weston (Rory Calhoun)- a gambler with the morals of an alley cat. Matt and Mark return to their rural homestead, but soon glimpse Kay and Harry on a sinking raft, apparently en route to make good on a gold claim; Matt rescues the two of them, but doesn't count on Harry doing an about face, beating him up, and stealing his horse and gun; Kay stays behind to look after Matt. Meanwhile, the Indians go on the warpath, and the defenseless trio decides to seek refuge by fleeing the farm and sailing down the river on a raft. En route, the son - thanks to Kay's doing - is unexpectedly disillusioned about the father's original crime. Moreover, as Matt approaches town, he begins to plot a decisive revenge against Harry. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama , Western
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
20th Century Fox

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Robert Mitchum
as Matt Calder
Marilyn Monroe
as Kay Weston
Rory Calhoun
as Harry Weston (gambler)
Tommy Rettig
as Mark Calder
Murvyn Vye
as Dave Colby
Douglas Spencer
as Sam Benson
Ed Hinton
as A Gambler
Jack Mather
as Croupier
Edmund Cobb
as Barber
Will Wright
as Merchant
Jarma Lewis
as Dancer
Hal Baylor
as Drunken Cowboy
Arthur Shields
as The Minister
John Doucette
as Spectator in the Black Nugget
Barbara Nichols
as Blonde Dancer
Paul Newlan
as Prospector
Ralph Sanford
as Bartender
Mitchell Lawrence
as Young Punk (uncredited)
John Patrick Veitch
as Young Punk (uncredited)
Larry Chance
as Young Punk (uncredited)
Fay Morley
as Dancer (uncredited)
Harry Seymour
as Piano Player (uncredited)
Claire André
as Surrey Driver
Jerome Schaeffer
as (uncredited)
Ann McCrea
as Dance Hall Girl (uncredited)
Geneva Gray
as Dance Hall Girl (uncredited)
John Cliff
as Leering Man (uncredited)
Mitchell Kowal
as (uncredited)
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Critic Reviews for River of No Return

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (4)

The striking beauties of the Canadian Rockies co-star with the blonde charms of Marilyn Monroe and the masculine muscles of Robert Mitchum in River of No Return.

Full Review… | October 23, 2007
Top Critic

One of the first films to discover the potential of CinemaScope and a fine example of Preminger's rational approach to the mysteries of personal morality.

Full Review… | October 23, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

There really is no return.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Director Otto Preminger has thrown all the grandeur and menace of these features upon the eye-filling CinemaScope screen.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Though nicely shot in CinemaScope, this Western is not one of director Otto Preminger's or stars Robert Mitchum's and Marilyn Monroe's strong films.

Full Review… | July 17, 2012

It's an awfully creaky story but the superb performances and Preminger's amazing use of widescreen make it a must-see.

Full Review… | March 6, 2008
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for River of No Return

Its not the greatest adventure Western ever made, or does even much of it make sense, but there's few that have as much charisma as Mitchum and Marilyn all wet on a raft in CinemaScope. First off, Marilyn gets to vamp a coupla tunes for the boys in the backroom, and then its out into the great wide Canadian open. Its fun.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

A western. A Marilyn Monroe flick. Of course I had to see this. And it was just as bad as I was expecting. Now I usually don't demerit a film for bad "special effects" but this was a little absurd. I mean, was I ever supposed to believe Marilyn was on that raft? I don't see how. Awful. And when the Native American comes on the raft only to rip Marilyn's shirt as she screams helplessly. OMFG. Let's get real here people.

Jennifer D
Jennifer D

Super Reviewer

marilyn didn't want to make this which explains her sometime stiff performance but when she sings she's luminous and her interaction with robert mitchum and tommy rettig is good. the cinematography is beautiful, make sure to watch it in widescreen.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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