River of No Return (1954)

90-91 mins | Adventure | May 1954

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HISTORY

At the end of the film, a written acknowledgment reads: “The Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation thanks the Canadian Government for its cooperation in the production of this motion picture.” On 15 May 1952, LAT reported that Louis Lantz’ original story had been purchased as a vehicle to star Dale Robertson, and that Julian Blaustein would serve as the picture’s executive producer. The news item also announced that the film would be shot on the Salmon River in Idaho. According to a Nov 1952 DV news item, Lantz was set to write the film’s screenplay, but only Frank Fenton is credited onscreen.
       HR news items include the following actors in the cast, although their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed: Dorothy Skelton, George M. Patay, Mort Mills, Russ Conklin, John Fritz, Patricia Wright, Connie Castle and LaRue Farlow. Although a 31 Dec 1953 entry in HR ’s “Rambling Reporter” column indicated that four separate endings for the film had been shot and that the studio was undecided about which one to use, this information has not been verified by another source. HR news items do note, however, that retakes for the picture were directed in mid-Nov and mid-Dec 1953 by Jean Negulesco, who was filling in for the out-of-town Otto Preminger. In several modern interviews, Negulesco stated that he directed
       According to studio publicity, the picture was filmed in the province of Alberta, Canada, in the Jasper and Banff National Parks, and on the Maligne, Bow and Snake Indian Rivers. According to HR news items, filming was suspended twice because of injuries suffered by Marilyn Monroe, ... More Less

At the end of the film, a written acknowledgment reads: “The Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation thanks the Canadian Government for its cooperation in the production of this motion picture.” On 15 May 1952, LAT reported that Louis Lantz’ original story had been purchased as a vehicle to star Dale Robertson, and that Julian Blaustein would serve as the picture’s executive producer. The news item also announced that the film would be shot on the Salmon River in Idaho. According to a Nov 1952 DV news item, Lantz was set to write the film’s screenplay, but only Frank Fenton is credited onscreen.
       HR news items include the following actors in the cast, although their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed: Dorothy Skelton, George M. Patay, Mort Mills, Russ Conklin, John Fritz, Patricia Wright, Connie Castle and LaRue Farlow. Although a 31 Dec 1953 entry in HR ’s “Rambling Reporter” column indicated that four separate endings for the film had been shot and that the studio was undecided about which one to use, this information has not been verified by another source. HR news items do note, however, that retakes for the picture were directed in mid-Nov and mid-Dec 1953 by Jean Negulesco, who was filling in for the out-of-town Otto Preminger. In several modern interviews, Negulesco stated that he directed
       According to studio publicity, the picture was filmed in the province of Alberta, Canada, in the Jasper and Banff National Parks, and on the Maligne, Bow and Snake Indian Rivers. According to HR news items, filming was suspended twice because of injuries suffered by Marilyn Monroe, and several modern sources have commented on the physical hardships endured by Monroe, Robert Mitchum and Tommy Rettig during production. A modern source adds the following crew members to the production: Mitchum's stand-in Tim Wallace; Mitchum's stunt double Roy Jenson; Monroe's stunt double Helen Thurston; Rettig's stunt double Harry Monty; and Stunt coordinator Fred Zindar. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
24 Apr 1954.
---
Daily Variety
23 Apr 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
23 Apr 54
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
15 May 1952
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Nov 1952
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jun 1953
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jun 1953
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jul 1953
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 1953
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 1953
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 1953
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Aug 1953
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 1953
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 1953
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Sep 1953
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1953
p. 26.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Sep 1953
p. 26.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Nov 1953
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 1953
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 1953
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 54
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
15 May 1952.
---
Los Angeles Times
6 May 1954.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Apr 54
p. 2269.
New York Times
1 May 54
p. 13.
Newsweek
10 May 1954.
---
Time
17 May 1954.
---
Variety
28 Apr 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir of retakes
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
From a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
Vocal dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Choreog
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
MUSIC
"River of No Return," music by Lionel Newman, lyrics by Ken Darby, sung by Tennesse Ernie Ford
"I'm Gonna File My Claim," "One Silver Dollar" and "Down in the Meadow," music by Lionel Newman, lyrics by Ken Darby.
DETAILS
Release Date:
May 1954
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Denver, CO: 29 April 1954
New York opening: 30 April 1954
Los Angeles opening: 5 May 1954
Production Date:
29 July--late September 1953
retakes mid November and mid December 1953
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
29 April 1954
Copyright Number:
LP3928
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Lenses/Prints
lenses by Bausch & Lomb
Duration(in mins):
90-91
Length(in feet):
8,064
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16625
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1875, the Northwest is filled with gold prospectors, and tent cities are overflowing with the saloon keepers, gamblers and entertainers who hope to profit from them. One day, a taciturn stranger rides into a tent city, where he looks for a nine-year-old boy, whom he had sent there from Illinois. The stranger, Matt Calder, introduces himself to the boy, Mark, as his father, and explains that he has returned after an extended absence so that they can be a family, even though Mark’s mother died years earlier. Mark insists on bidding farewell to Kay, the saloon singer who has been caring for him while he was waiting, and Kay upbraids Calder for neglecting his son. Although Calder has a low opinion of dance hall girls, he thanks Kay and leaves, and on the ride to their homestead, tells Mark that they are going to have a good life of hunting, fishing and farming. At the saloon, Kay’s fiancé, gambler Harry Weston, rushes in to tell her that he has won an important gold claim in a poker game and must go to Council City to file the deed. Kay suspects that Weston cheated his opponent, but his pleas that the gold mine represents their chance for a better life persuade her to leave, and soon they are floating in a raft down the river toward Council City. They encounter trouble in a patch of rapids, but fortunately are near Calder’s farm, and he and Mark pull them to safety. Mark is delighted to see Kay, who tells him that she and Weston are now married. When Calder tells Weston that he is crazy to brave the fierce river ... +


In 1875, the Northwest is filled with gold prospectors, and tent cities are overflowing with the saloon keepers, gamblers and entertainers who hope to profit from them. One day, a taciturn stranger rides into a tent city, where he looks for a nine-year-old boy, whom he had sent there from Illinois. The stranger, Matt Calder, introduces himself to the boy, Mark, as his father, and explains that he has returned after an extended absence so that they can be a family, even though Mark’s mother died years earlier. Mark insists on bidding farewell to Kay, the saloon singer who has been caring for him while he was waiting, and Kay upbraids Calder for neglecting his son. Although Calder has a low opinion of dance hall girls, he thanks Kay and leaves, and on the ride to their homestead, tells Mark that they are going to have a good life of hunting, fishing and farming. At the saloon, Kay’s fiancé, gambler Harry Weston, rushes in to tell her that he has won an important gold claim in a poker game and must go to Council City to file the deed. Kay suspects that Weston cheated his opponent, but his pleas that the gold mine represents their chance for a better life persuade her to leave, and soon they are floating in a raft down the river toward Council City. They encounter trouble in a patch of rapids, but fortunately are near Calder’s farm, and he and Mark pull them to safety. Mark is delighted to see Kay, who tells him that she and Weston are now married. When Calder tells Weston that he is crazy to brave the fierce river rapids, Weston offers to buy his rifle and horse so that he can travel overland. Calder refuses, citing his need to protect the farm against the ever-present threat of Indian attack. Weston steals the rifle and horse anyway, and assures Calder that he will return them soon, then knocks him out when Calder attempts to stop him. Infuriated by his actions, Kay decides to stay behind and watches as Weston rides off. When Calder regains consciousness, he sees that nearby Indians have witnessed the incident and are preparing to attack, so he quickly loads Mark and Kay onto the raft and sets off down the river. Calder watches stoically as the farm is burned to the ground, even though he tells Mark that he could have stopped the Indians if he still had his rifle. That night, the threesome camps by the river, and Kay tries to explain that Weston, who has had a hard life, is trying to improve himself, even though he went about it the wrong way. When she realizes that Calder intends to pursue Weston to Council City rather than wait for him to return, she tries to cut the raft free, but Calder stops her and calls her a tramp for her devotion to a man who would leave a child to die. Kay retorts that at least Weston never shot a man in the back, and the couple then realizes that a stunned Mark has overheard their argument. Calder tries to explain to his son that he had been in prison after killing a man for attacking his best friend, but despite his gentle tone, Mark cannot understand why he shot the man in the back. They then return to the river, and Calder relates that the Indians call it “the river of no return,” because of the rapids. Kay bravely helps to steer through one bad patch, but the exertion and cold make her faint. That evening, Kay is surprised by how tenderly Calder cares for her and Mark, and the next morning, he succeeds in killing an elk. While the meat is cooking, Mark reproaches his father for disliking Kay, but Calder grimly states that she is nothing to him, and all he cares about is bringing Weston to justice. While Kay and Calder then unload the raft, she tries to tell Calder that they could have been friends under different circumstances, and Calder, misunderstanding her intent, forcibly pins her down and kisses her. Calder’s actions are stopped by a cry from Mark, who is being stalked by a mountain lion. A shot from two passing men kills the cat, and the men, Sam Benson and Dave Colby, reveal that they are riding to Council City in pursuit of Weston, who won their gold claim. The vulgar Colby offers to take Kay with them, but repulsed by him, she refuses, and when Calder orders the men to leave, Colby attacks him with a knife. Calder bests his opponent and, taking one of the rifles, boards the raft again with Mark and Kay, who admits that she is not married to Weston. Calder apologizes for his earlier behavior, but again refuses to listen when Kay defends Weston. Soon after, a group of Indians attack them, but Calder is able to fend them off. The raft then enters the worst of the rapids, and after a torturous ride, the group finally reaches Council City. Calder allows Kay to speak with Weston alone while he and Mark wait in the general store, and although she is disturbed that Weston had not returned for her, she pleads with him to be honest with Calder. Kay is horrified when Weston shoots at Calder, and Mark is forced to shoot Weston in the back with a store rifle in order to protect his father. At last understanding what his father had done, Mark reconciles with him, and Kay sadly heads to the saloon. Later, Kay is singing in the saloon when Calder storms in and tosses her over his shoulder. Kay protests as Calder puts her in a wagon with Mark, but when he tells her that she is going home with them, she happily tosses her red shoes, the last link to her past, into the street.

+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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