Red River: Howard Hawks (I wrote about my appreciation of his work before) weaves a great tale; it contains elements which are very particular about the place and time (the hardships of that life, the arrival of civilization) and also universal (the indomitable human spirit, sense of honor and companionship). It’s also, more relevantly, supremely entertaining; it has both tight action scenes and lots of low-key funny moments. The flawless cast is a big reason for that: a great gallery of character actors, led by the peerless Walter Brennan. However, Montgomery Clift and John Wayne are also impressive in their roles. Music, as is usually the case in Hawks’ films, is very important, and Dimitri Tiomkin’s score is a joy to listen to. Visually, there are no frills, just a great sense of efficiency both in the camera work and editing.
To be clear, this film is near the top of the list of my favorite films of all time.