River of No Return combined three things I never thought I would see go together- Otto Preminger directing a sort-of- western with Marilyn Monroe as one of the main stars. Preminger I love as a Film Noir director so when I saw his name attached to a western I was a bit puzzled. Then I see Marilyn Monroe thrown into the mix and I really had to see it. River of No Return is not a terrible film but it lacks certain aspects or does the same thing over and over again to make it very entertaining.
A man named Matt Calder (Robert Mitchum) has arrived in a literally a wild western town. The people run around all over the place without a care. Men literally pour out of the saloon. Matt has arrived in the town looking for his son Mark who was dropped off by someone. He missed his son by a split second in the saloon when Mark got pushed to the back by a singer named Kay Weston (Monroe). Matt and Mark eventually find each other. Mark is not too sure about this man who says he is his father because they have not seen each other in years. Matt brings out a photograph of the boy’s mother and all is well between them. Before Mark leaves with his father he goes to say goodbye to Kay who was taking care of him.
Kay’s beau Harry (Rory Calhoun) got a claim to dig for gold in the town of Council City. Harry wants desperately to get down to the town to stake his claim. He dreams of getting away from the Midwest and doing all the things money can buy them. They do not have the horses to take them down to the city so they decide to go by raft.
Matt has taken Mark back to his place on a small piece land surrounded by nothing but the river, trees, and mountains. When they go outside they see Kay and Harry struggling with their makeshift raft. Matt pulls them into safety. Things go alright for a while until Harry wants to head out in a hurry so he can claim his land before someone else does. Harry and Matt get into a brawl with Matt getting knocked out and Harry taking his horse. Kay stays behind she does not want to leave Matt and Mark alone incase Matt is really out. When Matt comes to Harry is gone and the Indians coming down the hill. Since they do not have a horse they have to take the raft down the river. As they pull away the Indians burn Matt’s house down.
On their travels down The River of No Return, Matt fights off just about everything and everyone they come into contact with. Kay almost lets the raft get away but Matt catches her. She also lets him know that she knows that he was in jail for most of Mark’s life because he shot someone.
The group finally makes it to Council City. Kay asks Matt if he really has to confront Harry and he says he absolutely has to. She also asks him if she can talk to Harry who is not her husband but her boyfriend. She wants to talk some sense into him. Kay’s plan does not work. Harry goes outside to Matt. The two men begin to fight again. Harry unfairly brings out a gun and starts shooting. Mark is in the general store where the fight is happening outside. He hears the guns go off and he shoots Harry before the man can shoot his father.
Kay gets a job singing in the local saloon. As soon as she is done finishing her song Matt comes in and carries her away.
Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum were good together. I do not know if they made any other films together but if they did not I would have liked to have seen in other film as the leads. Monroe was excellent. I loved how she was not playing a ditzy blonde she was this strong woman. Also her voice was not annoying… I think I have said that quite a bit on her films I have been watching lately. She looked really great too. Monroe did not want to make this film but she was forced to make it since she was under contract. Sometimes you can tell if an actor or actress did not want to make a film they let their acting go and do not usually do a good job. With Monroe you would never know she did not want to make this. Robert Mitchum is completely believable as a man living out in the west in the late 1800s. He had the look and the mannerisms.
Otto Preminger is a fantastic director. The more films of his I view the more I notice how he really brings you into his films. Preminger immerses you in the world of his characters. Maybe this stems from his fantastic Noir films where you are supposed to be in the psyche of the characters. Even in this film feel like you are in the film going on this wild river ride with these characters.
River of No Return was not the greatest film but it was easy to watch. What bothered me was all the fights Matt gets into after the third fight you are like alright enough already. The story is not that good I lost interest in some parts. River of No Return is worth watching at least once and that is all the tries it deserves.