Wild River (1960)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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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
Classics , Drama
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Written By:
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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
James Westerfield
as Cal Garth
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
Alfred E. Smith
as Thompson
Mark Menson
as Winters
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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 17, 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 20, 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

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

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