Wild River

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Reviews Counted: 12

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User Ratings: 520


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Reviews Count: 0
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Average Rating: 4/5

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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 opposition because of his fair treatment of the local black population. Lee Remick costars as Van Fleet's granddaughter, who comes to love and understand the sensitive Clift. Some dated fuzzy-headed liberalism aside, Wild River is a masterful recreation of a difficult, complex period in American history. Watch for an uncredited Bruce Dern in his film debut. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Montgomery Clift
as Chuck Glover
Lee Remick
as Carol Garth Baldwin
Jo Van Fleet
as Ella Garth
Jay C. Flippen
as Hamilton Garth
Albert Salmi
as F.J. Bailey
Big Jeff Bess
as Joe John Garth
Frank Overton
as Walter Clark
Barbara Loden
as Betty Jackson
Bruce Dern
as Jack Roper
Pat Hingle
as Narrator
Judy Harris
as Barbara Baldwin
Jim Menard
as Jim Baldwin
Jim Steakley
as Mayor Tom Maynard
Mark Menson
as Winters
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Critic Reviews for Wild River

All Critics (12) | Top Critics (7)

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

    Feb 19, 2015 | Full Review…
  • Shooting predominantly on location in Tennessee, Kazan makes evocative use of the mist that hangs over the river like a lingering regret.

    Feb 19, 2015 | Rating: 4/5

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    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.

    Feb 19, 2015 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Feb 19, 2015 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

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

    Nov 18, 2011 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    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...

    Oct 21, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    David Fear

    Time Out
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Wild River

A government official turns up in a flood ravaged Tennessee town, circa 1930's, to order the residents to move so that a dam can be set in place. Many conflicts ensue, all set against the peaceful country surroundings. It's an interesting mood piece of a film, with the ladies doing all of the heavy lifting onscreen.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


Strong little known drama with excellent work from all involved.

jay nixon
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 Maximus
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.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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