The titular river unites a farmer recently released from prison, his young son, and an ambitious saloon singer. In order to survive, each must be purged of anger, and each must learn to understand and care for the others.
When billionaire Jean-Marc Clement learns that he is to be satirized in an off-Broadway revue, he passes himself off as an actor playing him in order to get closer to the beautiful star of the show, Amanda Dell.
Showgirls Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw travel to Paris, pursued by a private detective hired by the suspicious father of Lorelei's fiancé, as well as a rich, enamored old man and many other doting admirers.
Matt Calder, who lives on a remote farm with his young son Mark, helps two unexpected visitors who lose control of their raft on the nearby river. Harry Weston is a gambler by profession and he is racing to the nearest town to register a mining claim he has won in a poker game. His attractive wife Kay, a former saloon hall girl, is with him. When Calder refuses to let Weston have his only rifle and horse, he simply takes them leaving his wife behind. Unable to defend themselves against a likely Indian attack, Calder, his son and Kay Weston begin the treacherous journey down the river on the raft Weston left behind. Written by
Of all of Marilyn Monroe's leading men, Robert Mitchum was the only one who knew her back when. In 1941 before he made his screen debut in a Hopalong Cassidy film, Mitchum was among other things an aircraft factory worker and one of his friends was one James Daugherty. Of course Jim had a wife Norma Jean at the time and Bob and Dorothy occasionally socialized.
He knew all about her psychological problems and when it came time to do a film with her when both became screen legends, Mitchum was not about to get himself involved. That probably helped because during the shooting Marilyn and director Otto Preminger stopped speaking and would only communicate through Mitchum.
Marilyn's a saloon gal involved with a no good gambler/drifter in Rory Calhoun. Calhoun and Monroe nearly drown on a river when Mitchum rescues them and their raft. No good deed goes unpunished so Calhoun takes Mitchum's horse and Mitchum, Monroe, and Mitchum's son Tommy Rettig use the raft to go after him. They're kind of forced to because the Indians are on the warpath.
She's certainly quite a distraction for a man on a mission and at one point Mitchum does give into lust ever so briefly. Which does make River of No Return one of the more realistic westerns ever done.
Twentieth Century Fox decided to go whole hog on this one, shooting the film up in Banff. But with Marilyn and Otto feuding it was not a happy set. Otto walked off the picture and Jean Negulesco finished it out. Joe DiMaggio flew up to the set because of rumors of Mitchum and Marilyn, that were completely unfounded, but Joe was the jealous type. As for Mitchum legend has it that he and another legendary drinker, Murvyn Vye, killed many a bottle during the long evenings.
Done in cinemascope and 3-D, River of No Return should be seen on the big screen. Not even a letterbox DVD does it justice. And 3-D was definitely the medium for Monroe. Marilyn even has some nice songs to sing in this one.
It's not a great western, still it's entertaining enough especially in those rafting sequences. But it was a film Otto Preminger shuddered about when recalling.
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