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Rio Grande

Rio Grande

4.0 5
Director: John Ford

Cast: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Ben Johnson


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John Wayne stars as Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke, whose devotion to duty has cost him his marriage to his beloved Kathleen (Maureen O'Hara). Yorke gets word that his son, Jeff (Claude Jarman Jr.) -- whom he hasn't seen in 15 years -- has been dropped as a cadet from West Point, and that he lied about his age to enlist in the cavalry, in an effort to redeem himself. By chance,


John Wayne stars as Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke, whose devotion to duty has cost him his marriage to his beloved Kathleen (Maureen O'Hara). Yorke gets word that his son, Jeff (Claude Jarman Jr.) -- whom he hasn't seen in 15 years -- has been dropped as a cadet from West Point, and that he lied about his age to enlist in the cavalry, in an effort to redeem himself. By chance, the boy is then assigned to his father's post. Once more, as a function of his duty as a cavalry officer, Yorke must sacrifice his love of family -- he cannot show any preferential treatment to the boy, or exhibit any sign of love and affection. But Jeff is too strong to be injured by his father's actions, and already enough of a man that he is befriended by two older recruits, troopers Tyree (Ben Johnson) and Boone (Harry Carey Jr.), who watch out for him while taking him in as a virtual equal. Yorke's resolve is further tested when his estranged wife, Kathleen, arrives at the post, the better to look after her son -- and possibly to buy back the boy's enlistment, which Yorke, as commanding officer in a remote post with a critical shortage of men, can't and won't permit. After an attack by the Apaches, Yorke orders the post's women and children to be moved to safety, and Jeff is assigned as part of the troop conducting the caravan, despite his wish to participate in the planned action against the Apaches. The caravan is attacked, and the wagon with the children is taken by the Apaches to their encampment in a deserted village across the Rio Grande in Mexico. Yorke has been given permission by General Sheridan (J. Carrol Naish) to take his men into Mexico in pursuit of the Apaches, but the punitive expedition is now a rescue mission, as the Indians' night-time vengeance dance is the prelude to certain slaughter of the children at daybreak. As part of the mission, it's up to Tyree, the slyest man in the troop, to infiltrate the enemy camp, and he chooses Jeff and Boone as the two men he wants with him on this dangerous mission.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Rio Grande was the third part of John Ford's renowned "Cavalry Trilogy" (the other two, Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, both also starring John Wayne, had been released by RKO in 1948 and 1949, respectively). Ironically, although it has come to be regarded as the best of the three movies, and was extremely successful in its own time, Ford did not want to make Rio Grande, and had a much more personal priority on his mind in 1950 -- making The Quiet Man, which he'd been trying to get into production for a decade. But the only studio that was willing to back him on the project was Republic Pictures, a B-picture studio best known for producing low-budget serials, singing cowboy pictures starring Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, action films, and comedies. The studio's president, Herbert J. Yates, recognized the changes coming to the B-movie market with the encroachment of television, and had begun producing some much more ambitious, bigger-budgeted movies after World War II, and getting John Ford to direct pictures at Republic was a coup second to none. Yates wanted a guaranteed hit to balance the risk he was taking with The Quiet Man, and made the production of Rio Grande the pre-condition to Ford making The Quiet Man. Both Ford and Yates could be proud of the result, for Rio Grande was the most exciting and emotionally involving, and (relatively speaking) the least sentimental, of the three cavalry movies. It also proved a high-water mark for the Western of this era, and for many of those involved. John Wayne was coming to the end of a string of highly demanding, serious acting roles that had commenced with Red River, and was at the peak of his acting ability for the role of the quietly suffering martinet Yorke. Also, his first teaming opposite Maureen O'Hara established one of the movies' most beloved onscreen couples, as well as a friendship that would endure between the two actors for the rest of their lives. Claude Jarman Jr., Ben Johnson, and Harry Carey Jr. were just as good in their roles, with Johnson displaying here (and in Ford's Wagon Master, released earlier the same year) the first real flashes of the acting ability that would carry him to an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor in The Last Picture Show two decades later. The rest of the Ford stock company is also on hand in excellent supporting roles, including Victor McLaglen (in the next-to-last of the 11 movies he did with Ford), Jack Pennick, Grant Withers, Ken Curtis, etc. The music -- mostly in the form of folk songs -- is provided principally by the Sons of the Pioneers singing group, of which Curtis (who was Ford's son-in-law) was a member.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Olive Films
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Special Features

The Making of Rio Grande hosted by Leonard Maltin; Includes Interviews with Michael Wayne, Ben Johnson, Harry Carey Jr.; ; Theatrical Trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
John Wayne Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke
Maureen O'Hara Mrs. Kathleen Yorke
Ben Johnson Trooper Tyree
Claude Jarman Trooper Jeff Yorke
Harry Carey Trooper Daniel "Sandy" Boone
Victor McLaglen Sgt. Maj. Quincannon
Chill Wills Dr. Wilkins
J. Carrol Naish Gen. Philip Sheridan
Grant Withers Deputy Marshal
Peter Ortiz Capt. St. Jacques
Gaylord "Steve" Pendleton Capt. Prescott
Karolyn Grimes Margaret Mary
Alberto Morin Lieutenant
Stan Jones Sergeant
Fred Kennedy Heinze
Sunset Carson Actor
Bobby Clark Actor
Henry Garcia Actor
Cliff Lyons Soldier
Lee Morgan Actor
Jack Pennick Sergeant
Hugh Farr Actor
Carl Farr Actor
Chuck Roberson Officer
Ken Curtis Regimental singer
Shug Fisher Regimental singer
Patrick Wayne Boy

Technical Credits
John Ford Director,Producer
Merian C. Cooper Producer
Dale Evans Songwriter
Bert Glennon Cinematographer
Frank Hotaling Art Director
Stan Jones Songwriter
Theodore Lydecker Special Effects
Howard Lydecker Special Effects
John McCarthy Set Decoration/Design
James K. McGuinness Screenwriter
Jack Murray Editor
Tex Owens Songwriter
Adele Palmer Costumes/Costume Designer
Archie J. Stout Cinematographer
Charles Thompson Set Decoration/Design
Victor Young Score Composer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Rio Grande
1. Chapter 1
2. Opening
3. New Recruits
4. Soldier's Fight
5. Serenade
6. Troop A's Mission
7. Travis Escapes
8. Ambush
9. Rescue Team


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Rio Grande 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought I was a John Wayn admirer before. This was an unexpected jem. I love the filming,scenery and the music. Wow... and lots of it. Cavalry songs sung by "The Sons of the Pioneers". I think, that by far, this is my favorite John Wayne film.
Medic_Chick05 More than 1 year ago
growing up, my dad subjected me to watching john wayne movies. somehow i came not to mind esp. after seeint this one. i would have to say this is one of my favorite john wayne movies and part of the reason is beacuse maureen o'hara is also in it. the two of them had a type of chemistry rarely seen on the screen. but you can almost feel the tension when they meet again for the first time in many years. its a great movie!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago