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Rio Grande (John Wayne Collection)

Featuring: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara & Ben Johnson

Format: DVD | Rating: Universal Suitable for All

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  Last and by No Means Least of the Cavalry Trilogy

| | See all Hanaden's reviews (4)

Ford made this so as to let the studio give him the go-ahead to make The Quiet Man, which they were convinced was going to tank at the box-office. From this inauspicious start, many regarded this last installment of Ford's informal Cavalry Trilogy as a lesser film then the previous two, Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon- but how any Western directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara and the utterly superb Victor MacLaglen can be termed a lesser film is beyond me.
The camera work is confident without being bombastic and the horse riding scenes involve some excellent stunt work- sadly, though, two stuntmen were killed during a fairly harmless-seeming river crossing scene.
The plot sees John Wayne as a Lt Colonel fighting renegade Sioux along the Mexican border. This is complicated by his estranged son enlisting into his regiment without his permission- a situation given another angle by the subsequent arrival of Maureen O'Hara, Wayne's even more estranged wife. There is a subplot involving a wanted man, and plenty of colour and life from the Sgt. Major, played by the great MacLaglen, a one time circus performer, Australian Gold Rush participant and boxer- even racking up a fight against the legendary Jack Johnson.
There's a couple of sequences involving singing which might put some off- I like them, and if you don't, well they're not too long!
Mention must be made of the un-PC depiction of the Native Americans, this is a film of it's time, though you can detect something dimly recognizable as a distaff conscience in the inclusion of a Navaho attached to the regiment.
This is an old fashioned Western, and John Wayne is reviled by quite a few (not me if you hadn't guessed), but this is still effective and heart-warming entertainment. Some of the images are suprisingly powerful- the cavalry riding up the church steps to the rescue provoked an emotional response from me despite my usually jaded response. Some will call it sentimental, though I think it's something deeper than that.
A good film and I'm sure will entertain and touch many. Even if you dislike Westerns and the Great Re-actor himself, this film hits enough universal notes to be appealing to all but the most hard-hearted.

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