Out of the Past: The Films of Robert Mitchum

River of No Return

Otto PremingerUSA91 minutes1954PGColourEnglish

Feb 9
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    Mitchum is "an unstoppable mix of nonchalance and virility" (Philippe Garnier and Bernard Eisenschitz) in this, one of Otto Preminger's finest films and the director's first movie shot in CinemaScope (ideal to showcase his two stars' legendary chests!). Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe headline this adventure drama set in the Canadian Northwest, focusing on a love triangle comprised of a saloon singer (Monroe) longing for affection and respectability, her no-good gambling man (Rory Calhoun) who is intent on staking a gold claim, and a farmer with a troubled past (Mitchum, exceptionally fine and tender) who has just reunited with his young son. Despite the cataclysmic rows between the director and his female star ("Directing Marilyn Monroe was like directing Lassie," Preminger gallantly observed), River turned out to be a terrific film: funny, touching, engrossing, beyond beautiful. So to recap: two impossibly sexy, surly stars, lashes of romance, music, and adventure (the raft sequences are thrilling), and acres of Rocky Mountain scenery captured in sweeping widescreen — plus a nod to the Canadian government in the end credits!