Monday, 22 February 2016
River of No Return (1954)
About 55 minutes into this film, the 'hero' wrestles Marilyn Monroe's character to the ground in pursuit of ... well, at the very least a kiss, but in the context of the dialogue, quite possibly a lot more. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you can probably guess that this was the point where I shouted imprecations at the screen.
Not that I was rapturous about the film even before that. I mean, it had been a tolerable enough little western, provided you were willing to overlook the casual 1950s racism and the way the camera-work lasciviously ogled Monroe, but nothing really to write home about.
A widowed farmer has his gun and horse stolen by a gambler. Realising that he is now at the mercy of the natives - remember the casual racism I mentioned - he resolves to flee with his son via the only means available: the titular "River of No Return". Accompanying them on the journey is Kay (Monroe), a saloon singer who has the misfortune to be the villainous gambler's fiancée.
So yeah, you know Kay and the kid are going to bond, and eventually the crusty old farmer will come to like her too (for the "I feel I have the right to manhandle you" definition of "like", anyway). But first they'll have to deal with rapids, mountain lions, natives and other menaces. It's fairly paint-by-numbers stuff.
There's some enjoyment to be had here from picking out the obvious sound-stage footage against the on-location stuff, and giggling at the awful green screen sequences when the main cast are "rafting" on the "river", but otherwise it's only worth your time if you are a Monroe fanatic.