The Siege at Red River (1954) Poster

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Travels of a stolen Gatling gun
NewEnglandPat13 July 2003
This western is about two unreconstructed southerners who steal a Gatling gun from Union soldiers which winds up in the hands of an outlaw who sells the gun to Indians for gold. The film dwells on character development and takes a great deal of time detailing the two southern agents' travels from town to town delivering coded messages and trying to arrange a rendezvous with a contact to deliver the Gatling. The picture is another Blue vs. Gray conflict in the west with the Indians on the warpath against the soldiers, a plot angle that has been done better in other westerns. Van Johnson is okay as the hero and Joanne Dru is the gal who falls for Johnson. Richard Boone is a standout as a gun-running renegade in a role as a heavy he would reprise in other westerns. The supporting cast and color photography are good.
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Boy's Own Tales
rpvanderlinden21 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Here's the situation: I'm about 9 years old and I'm standing in front of either the Regent or Gay, small, box-like, moderately ornate cinemas known to me for their triple-bills, smokey interiors and sticky floors. In the display case is a poster for "Siege at Red River" The large lettering is red. A guy is holding onto a beautiful woman. Behind them is a burning fort and a horde of injuns battling the cavalry in blue uniforms. Cool! I note that the movie is in Technicolor. That's a plus. I pay my quarter and go in. At the candy counter I buy a cherry ice cream bar and enter the darkened auditorium.

I've probably sat down in the middle of a movie, but that's okay. It's fun trying to figure out what's going on. Then "Siege at Red River" starts. The grand 20th Century Fox logo with the moving floodlights. My favourite. I sink into my seat and a surge of anticipation rushes through me. Van Johnson is blonde, sturdy and stalwart - and maybe a scoundrel. There seems to be questions about his courage, but he sure gives that soldier bully what for! The beautiful lady doctor with the red lips likes him, then hates him, so I guess they'll get together at the end. He's up to his eyeballs in trouble regarding a Gatling gun and he's mixed up with a shady character with a whip played by Richard Boone, who's really, really nasty. Hiss. Boo. There's lots of good story, some funny parts, and tons of action with guys on horseback riding furiously around. The Technicolor is vivid and the outdoor scenery, with those huge pink/orange granite cliffs, is beautiful. There's a spectacular climax, with the cavalry, trumpet blasting, arriving in the nick of time. Too bad the injuns never win, though. Funny how the guys who are shot and fall off their horses never stay on the ground.

I don't know for sure if I saw this movie as a kid - there were so many - but I probably did, and I probably sat through the entire triple bill twice. As an adult I still find this movie entertaining. It delivers what it promises. I don't know, as one reviewer has suggested, if it's a metaphor for the Cold War, but its equivalent in contemporary cinema might be a Matt Damon movie with a hero who can take care of himself, nasty arms dealers and Arab strife. One thing, though - I miss the cherry ice cream bars.
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Feds and Rebs agin the Reds
Spondonman16 July 2012
It's a typical 50's Technicolor Western trotting out all the usual ingredients with the usual vim – no-nonsense people and plot was the motto.

Two Rebs steal the being-developed Gatling Gun from the Feds in an ingenious segment, eventually toting it further south but ending up stuck in a small town. This town gets quickly filled to the brim with Federal soldiers still on the hunt for their gun. Van Johnson (Reb) and Joanne Dru (Fed) fall for each other of course although of course they don't realise it until the climax. What interested me was the implication that the gun could be used by civilised whites against each other in a civilised slaughter but that selling it to the savage Reds was beyond the Pale. Both Feds and Rebs are eventually united to prevent the Reds using it during the noisy 5 minute siege. And of course the implication was only the Reds were low enough to actually use the horrible weapon the Feds had had the brains to design – at the time of production America had the same idea about the Russian Reds and the atom bomb.

It has a bit of everything Western in: romance and fights, trains and horses, shootings and slapstick comedy. It's fun, I loved it.
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Spikeopath9 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I so wanted to like this, but ultimately it eased out to being a very average picture that is saved by its bookended gusto. The plot basically sees Capt. James S. Simmons (aka Jim Farraday), a Southerner hiding out as part of a spurious tonic selling double act, trying to prevent the mighty Gatling Gun being sold into the wrong hands. After the excellent opening, where a train robbery results in the said Gun being pilfered, the picture drifts along with enough charm but no amount of substance. Van Johnson as Farraday, Joanne Dru, Richard Boone and Jeff Morrow do what they can with the amiable but unimaginative script, and it's only really as we get to the last quarter that the film jolts back into action. Is it worth waiting for? Well yes it is, Gatling Gun blazing and heroes fighting against the odds should always perk up a movie, and so it does here, thankfully.

Not one to recommend highly, but worth a watch once with a solid 5/10 rating.
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An underrated superior "B" Western
Len-1921 November 1998
This western is,in my opinion,very underrated,and gives a nice blend of adventure,thrills,actiion and wry humour with the addition of some very catchy tunes. Van Johnson gives a good performance as one of a pair of undercover Confederate agents,carrying a stolen Gatling Gun through Union territory to aid the cause of the South. They travel as medicine salesmen contacting Confederate agents as they travel and picking up Joanne Dru on the way. The love interest between her and Van Johnson provide some nice humerous touches. Richard Boone steals the film,of course, as a really nasty,bullying,woman hating,unscrupulous,murdering cut-throat,who steals the Gatling gun from Van Johnson and sells it to the Indians and joins them, for money,of course, in attacking the Cavalry Fort. The fights,action scenes and Indian attack are very well-done. At the end Van Johnson gives Boone his come-uppance,the day is saved and Van goes off with Joanne into the sunset, but all in a very satisfying manner. Milburn Stone and Jeff Morrow provide excellent support. The direction,writing and acting are above par from all concerned. It is a western that one can see time and time again and still obtain great enjoyment.
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Modest, but excellent Western from Dreyer's former cameraman.
the red duchess28 May 2001
In 1954, a Western about the Civil War is not just about the Civil War. 'Siege at Red River' opens with the robbery of a Union train by a bunch of outlaws. The Union soldiers, including a detective, combine the Military and the Law - they are protecting a secret new super-weapon - the Gatling Gun, the first example of mechanised warfare which means surefire victory for which ever side possesses it.

If we substitute the Gatling with a nuclear warhead, the Civil War with the Cold War; and if we note that the bandits make off in a red mail van, and that their leader wears a red cravat, and we assume them as commies, than the Western becomes an Allegory. This is not surprising - from its inception the genre has celebrated the UNITED States and played out and resolved its crises, while the likes of President Reagan have used it to signify a sense of genuine Americanness, so it is natural the genre should be marshalled in such a time of perceived crisis.

As the film is directed by the great Rudolph Mate, former cinematographer for, among others, Carl Dreyer, one of the genuine maestros of the cinema, we might assume that if his film is a Cold War Allegory, it will be far from simplistic. The linking of Communism with disruption, criminality, secrecy and murder is not a surprise; if we do make the link, when our first shock is that the bandit leader is played by the film's star. The benefits of the star persona - wit, charm, a (relatively) rounded personality (he is a grim avenger and gun smuggler, but also a musician, orator and gentleman; he is connected with role-play and the theatre) are in contrast with the monolithic forces of law and order; while he has multiple interests besides the war, they have only that defining interest. Further, while his motives are essentially decent and right-minded, the 'good' guys are not only street-bawling thugs, but perpetrators of vile, near-genocidal acts.

The film doesn't go so far as to salvage Farraday's oppositional position - the conflict between North and South is on one level displaced on gender, where it can be resolved in romance; and on another, generic level, displaced on a third enemy - the murderous amoral smuggler and the Indians - so the opposing American forces can finally reconcile. But it's not a happy reconciliation - the massacre of the Indians is only cathartic if we ignore that they too, like the Americans in the Fort, have women and children; and the finale is only happy if we accept the couple's words, and not the narrative reality, that he is an outlaw evading justice and leaving the woman he has learned to love. This fact of separation from the site of reconciliation implicitly questions that reconciliation.

There are other features - the anti-realistic use of colour; the drunk scene, where the dominant male point of view suddenly switches to the drunken, gun-shooting female, linked to her frank, disruptive, transformative sexuality and contrasted with the ship-lashing, neurotic villain; the use of song, espeically 'Tapioca', and its movement from rebel code to music hall; the argument that nation is an arbitrary series of signs - the Indians shoot first at the US flag, not the army; the image of the Niagara Falls on the music hall curtains - where national identity is constructed and negotiated, not 'natural'; a sophisticated attitude to patriotism, war and friendship - that all add up to a more thoughtful Western than its routine reputation might suggest.
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Enjoyable and rousing Western
lorenellroy18 April 2008
Jim Farady (Van Johnson)and his associate Benjy (Milburn Stone) appear to be hucksters ,travelling the West selling patent medicine (a muscle builder)but in reality they are spies for the Confederacy and are transporting a stolen Gatling Gun to the Confederate lines ,a journey that will take them through Indian Territory ,and the natives are not friendly. They attract the attention of a shrewd Pinkerton man Frank Kelso (Jeff Morrow)and are forced to smuggle the guns out concealed in a hospital wagon driven by the unsuspecting Nora Curtis (Joanne Dru)who is attracted ,somewhat against her will to Farady.they are betrayed by their ostensible escort ,Manning (Richard Boone)who has plans to sell the guns to the Indians for an attack on a nearby fort ,plans Farady sets out to foil.

The movie is immaculately shot in Technicolor by Edward Cronjager and Rudolph Mate ensures the action moves along with vigour .The acting is good and the movie never flags ,even finding time for a unique drunk scene -the inebriate in question being Nora .

The climax may appear familiar and if so this is unsurprising -the climactic battle is lifted from Buffalo Bill ,the Joel Macrae movie from an earlier decade ,and intercut with close up of the actors in this movie

Its a solid action Western and enjoyable for lovers of the genre
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Entertaining hide and seek Civil War Western
weezeralfalfa17 June 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A Civil War Western, the western features mostly confined to an Indian attack on a mid-west army post, and a cavalry unit chasing them off. Actually, it's more a game of hide and seek, with a disassembled Gatling Gun being the object of Union forces seeking after it was stolen by Confederate agents in Ohio. The film was shot in color around Durango, CO and several places around Moab, UT, with the erosion remnants in Castle Valley especially memorable, looking rather like Monument Valley, to the south. Available at YouTube.

Van Johnson, surprisingly, plays the chief Confederate agent Jim Farraday, His chief nemesis through most of the film is Pinkerton agent Frank Kelso(Jeff Morrow), until Van changes sides, when Britt Manning(Richard Boone), his former aid, becomes his chief European opponent, along with Chief Yellow Hawk, leader of a multi-tribal confederation in an attack on Fort Smith.

Some humor is provided by Van plus Melburne Stone, as Bengi: the traveling snake oil salesman, when they sing an odd ditty called "Tapioca" and sometimes a related song, which signals their contact in that town to give them instructions for their further wanderings toward Confederate territory. Also, Joanne Dru(as Nora) along with Van provide some chuckles when she accidentally gets drunk on Benji's whiskey-fortified Chamomile tea, passes out, and is put to bed by Benji and Van, after removing her dress(not shown). Later, Van and Joanne share a small blanket out on the trail, Van requesting that they stay on their side of 'the Mason-Dixon line' in the middle.

At Baxter Springs KS, a chorus girl sings "Tapioca" at the request of their agent in that town, Britt Manning(Richard Boone). She brings them to Manning, who gets involved with their problems. The cases of Gatling Gun parts are moved from Benji's wagon to Joanne's hospital wagon, she being a Yankee nurse who was rescued by Van from being stuck in river sand. The wagon searchers decide to let her through without inspection. Benji's wagon is inspected, but no longer contains the Gatling Gun. Manning later kills Benje on the road, gets the Gatling gun from Joanne's wagon, and decides to try to sell it to Chief Yellow Hawk, after finding the instructions on how to assemble and operate the gun. The chief is impressed and buys it, planning to use it in an attack on Fort Smith, in which warriors from various tribes will unite.

Van and Joanne flirted after he rescued her. But she changed her attitude when the question of why he wasn't in a Union uniform came up. He stated that he didn't want to fight as a soldier, so he paid a substitute $300. to take his place. She wanted to disown him as cowardly. But, he changed sides on the Fort Smith attack, fighting Manning, who was manning the gun for the Indians. He changed after learning that many women and children were included in the fort. After this, Joanne warmed up to him again, and there was a suggested union between them after the war was over(an imminent occurrence).

Joanne certainly lite up the screen with her beauty and personality. She had already costarred in a variety of westerns, including "Red River", "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon", "Wagon Master" ,"Vengeance Valley", and "Southwest Passage". In contrast, I believe this was Van's only western, he being known for musical comedies, sitcoms, and war pictures.

A few mentionings of relevant historical facts are in order. There was a historic Sioux chief called Yellow Hawk, but Sioux are unlikely to have been involved in a fight in future Oklahoma. There was a real town called Baxter Springs, located in the extreme SE corner of Kansas, right next to Indian Territory, to become Oklahoma. But, historic Fort Smith was located on the central western border of Arkansas, far from Baxter Springs. "The 5 Civilized Nations", which had been moved to Indian Territory did align themselves with the Confederates. Dr. Gatling Only tried to sell his gun to the Union, unsuccessfully until after the war. However, several Union commanders involved in the siege of Petersburg individually bought a gun for their command. The gun was often used in the subsequent Indian Wars, as well as by various European countries. Strangely, Dr. Gatling was a member of the Order of American Knights": a secret pro-Confederacy organization.
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Dramatic film. Original theme.
swanningaround14 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I think this film is highly underrated. I cannot believe it has only been given a rating 4.9. There are many inferior films with much higher rating, which are not half as good as this film, and not as well acted. The film covers all sorts of new themes for a 1954 movie. There is espionage, love, civil war, patriotism, gallantry, Indian wars, state of the art weaponry and of course great acting. The film flows nicely and there is always a feeling of mystery and suspense. Van Johnson is a great actor in any movie, and Richard Boone is the archetypal bad guy. The film ends up with a theme of reconciliation and chivalry. It is a theme which does not appear in modern day movies, where bad and treachery always seems to triumph.
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Typical early 50s western struggles from no leading man
blankend24 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is pretty much your typical early 1950s western. It really would have benefited with someone like Randolph Scott or Joel McRea in the leading role. Van Johnson was known for musical comedies, not Westerns. He was not rugged or convincing enough in the role of the Confederate spy from Georgia. Co-star Richard Boone would have been better, but this movie preceded the anti-hero era, and Boone was still playing bad guys at this point of his career. He would not begin 'Have Gun Will Travel' until 1957.

I agree that Milburn Stone stole every scene he was in and provided some nice comedic relief. As a matter of fact, I have no problem with any of the cast except for Johnson, who looked more comfortable banging on the piano and singing Tapioca then he did riding, shooting, or fighting.

Hollywood Westerns were famous for their historic inaccuracy, especially when it comes to the Civil War and weapons. From the comments about the South in retreat, and Grant pushing Lee back, I take the film was supposed to have been around 1865. During the Civil War, both sides were using single-shot black powder rifles and cap and ball pistols, but Hollywood always had them shooting Colt 45s and Winchester repeater rifles. That made me wonder if the Gatlin Gun was even invented during the Civil War. This led me to the internet, where I confirmed "...Invented by Richard Gatling, it is known for its use by the Union forces during the American Civil War in the 1860s, which was the first time it was employed in combat." So, it looks like they finally got something right, but the movie indicated it hadn't been used in combat yet, and the war was already ending.

All in all, this is a nice diversion for 50s western fans (like myself) if you can get past Van Johnson's miscast role.
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Above average cast move thru below average western
bux2 November 1998
Johnson as a cavalry captain trying to stop the delivery of Gatling Guns to hostile Indians. Boone, of course stands out as the heavy, in this otherwise below par oater.
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Ho Hum Western in all respects.
dfwesley1 December 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I really hate to see Van Johnson's talents wasted in a film like this. I never thought westerns were his bag anyway. He was with the "Georgia Volunteers" a vague designation that wouldn't satisfy any Union officer. And where was his accent? Now Richard Boone has played this kind of evil role before and again, and does it very well. I had to laugh at the Indians firing the Gatling gun( could they ever? would they ever?) at the fort while droves of other indians are closely surrounding it. Nary a horse hit during any of the battles. Monumental cavalry and Indian charges appear with the usual results. One has to swallow a lot to enjoy this western.
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amusing at best
RanchoTuVu28 April 2011
Two Confederate agents (Van Johnson and Milburn Stone) head west in order to bring a Gatling gun back to the South in the hopes of winning the Civil War. In order to travel with the famous gun through hostile Commanche territory they hire Indian trader Richard Boone to lead the way. Johnson and Stone hide their true identities by masquerading as sales reps for a cure all tonic and actually perform a song together in order to draw in a crowd. Amongst the crowds are various Confederate sympathizers who slip them concealed notes about where to go next. Also in the mix is Joanne Dru who plays a health care provider and who falls for Johnson's ruse as the tonic sales rep while gradually discovering his true Confederate identity. The action is mostly laughable, especially a big fight with Indians, though they (the Commanches) do get their hands on the Gatling gun and get a chance to use it. However, any film with Richard Boone in it is worth watching. He does not disappoint here as a sore tempered loser at poker and treacherous Indian trader. A few years later the film Rio Conchos portrayed a similar story of the Civil War out west, and this one also starred Boone. It's about ten times better than Siege At Red River.
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Interesting Civil War Western, but not memorable
Marlburian15 June 2006
I had seen this film some years ago, and the only scenes that I remembered were those when Johnson and Stone sing "Tapioca" as a code song to identify themselves to Southern agents. But I still enjoyed it second time around, and perhaps I should have first read Alice Liddel's intellectual comments written here so that I would have appreciated it better.

Boone, playing an out-and-out villain, steals his scenes.I wasn't too sure about the comic interlude halfway through with Dru accidentally getting drunk, though it did teasingly leave us with the question: did Johnson really change her into her night-dress and put her to bed? I incline to nitpicking, and I thought it ham-fisted the way the Union troops charged in to town to arrest the Southern-sympathising storekeeper, only to shoot him dead. It would have been more convincing, but less spectacular, to send three or four men in to the store posing as customers - he could still have been shot in a struggle.

I wonder what Southern audiences would have made of Johnson's change of heart at the end (I'm British)? Both sides in the Civil War used Indians, and by its end the fact that women and children - families of Union soldiers - would be killed would be of minor concern to many Confederates.
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A Prototype Gatling Gun
bkoganbing20 April 2011
Siege At Red River is a Civil War western which casts Van Johnson and Milburn Stone as a couple of Confederate spies who steal a prototype new Gatling Gun from the Union Army and hope to get it south so that their army can get it in the field and turn the war's tide. Students of history will note that there is a scene shortly after they accomplish the heist showing that Lincoln has been safely re-elected and that was on the heels of Sherman taking Atlanta. We know if Van and Milburn don't that they're fighting a lost cause.

But we can't have loose Gatling Guns around and Army Intelligence Officer Jeff Morrow is on the trail of the thieves. Johnson and Stone are a wily pair and con Union Army nurse Joanne Dru into innocently transporting the weapon with her medical supplies. But another guy who they use for aid, outlaw renegade Richard Boone has an agenda all his own and it involves the Indians.

I don't think I have to go any farther, anyone who's seen enough films and knows off history knows how this will end generally. How it ends for the principal cast members you see the film for.

What I liked about Siege At Red River is that Van Johnson and Milburn Stone in their guise as medicine show hucksters got to do a little snappy patter and song in the film. Johnson started out as a chorus boy on Broadway and he was brought to Hollywood after a bit part on Broadway in Too Many Girls. Occasionally he did do some singing and dancing, but not enough in my humble opinion. Peggy Maley also does a nice number in the saloon and she was great also.

Maley is Richard Boone's girl and when Richard Boone is mean on the screen there ain't nobody meaner. His villains are usually quite irredeemable creatures with no decent characteristics.

The final attack of the Indians and the soldiers counterattack is staged very well. Nice location cinematography for this, it was not the kind of sequence that could reasonably been done on a studio back lot any longer. Definitely a good western and I believe the only one Van Johnson ever did in his career.
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Involving classical era western covering several scoundrels scuttling around a Civil War frontier, whom come together around a priceless McGuffin of immense power.
johnnyboyz15 April 2011
Siege at Red River is a good, clean, honest and highly enjoyable adventure film which happens to unfold in the old west at what appears to be somewhat of a height during the American Civil War. Throughout, there are numerous items which open up and contribute to the grubby, generally downcast nature of the film to do with shots at redemption on top of a heist sub-plot meshing in with a revenge tale neatly blending enough to make it a good crack. It's a fair old romp through some often hard material covering the pratfalls of a bunch of both male and female lowlifes cheating, stealing and charming their way through some rather inhospitable territories in aid of themselves. The film is an engaging and pleasing enough rollick, its effectiveness somewhat masked by its own simplicity and surprisingly tense overall demeanour as it rolls its leads from situation to situation with a great deal at stake looming.

The film will cover that of two confederate soldiers deep into Union army, and thus enemy, territory whom pose as travelling salesmen ridding their waggon of muscle tonic and dumping such goods onto the unsuspecting locals with a catchy tune; a smirk and a wink in the process. They are charmers, operating amorally out of a front but whose presence there is much more broadly linked to that of a recently stolen, state-of-the-art Union army produced Gatling gun. Such a gun, and the catalyst of which kicks off its ambling journey around the houses, is foretold during the film's opening; a daring robbery of the train upon which this gun was being transported seeing the perpetrators initially hidden away in the mail waggon with their target granted as much secrecy as it lies hidden away from public view on account of the top Union army officials whom have denied its existence in the newspapers. The thieves, however, know about its presence and the manner in which they infiltrate the train on top of this hints at a sly professionalism very few might be able to match.

It is those very salesperson's, a certain Jim Farraday played by Van Johnson and his accomplice Benjy Guderman (Stone) whom stole and are now in possession of the gun; the bedding down in a nearby town of which leads to complication that see it near impossible to get out of there without being found by the enemy whom litter the area, predominantly down to a Union army captain and his crew scouring for all of the bits and pieces which will lead them to the merchandise he's aware is around. Thank heavens, then, for the shining beacon of light that is Richard Boone's Brett Manning; a rough talking, sleazy, fist-fighting tough guy whom offers them a way out of there - then again, maybe not. Manning plays a sly and seedy customer; a womanising, gambling lout whom, it would seem, mingles around and plays guardian to a performing girl whom specialises in that of playing on-stage burlesque as he sits in the office back-stage doing what-not and probably getting a cut of her earnings to boot.

The aura, or the reputation that the Gatling gun seemingly has, is highlighted by some character officials speaking of said item. The concerns raised about the gun, in that it is so advanced and so powerful, sees one official doubt that it even exists in this still feeble, pre-modern world, or if it is indeed only a rumour that such a paramount armament exists. Its presence, however, is something another man confirms is true before going on to speak of notions that it would indeed be "terrible" if it were to "fall into the wrong hands", something the film enjoys in a very basic sense of building up an off-screen MacGuffin before having the aforementioned clinical bandits make off with it – when they do, we fear the worst. Farraday and Guderman venture onwards and uncover young Nora (Dru), a nurse at a local manor house she owns whose cart is stuck in a river, Jim's somewhat displeasing attempts at getting to know her seeing him use, again, a false persona as he does with the travelling store to charm her; the bumps in the road as he transports her back seeing her invite the interaction, and despite hearing some different truths about Jim from Gunderman, she appears unperturbed and will continue on as is.

The film dares us not to particularly like its leads, Farraday and Guderman; something that is indeed linked to the fact they are thieves and con-men but is more broadly linked to that of a long history of Confederate demonisation embedded within the genre of the American western. In contrast to the rather monstrous Manning, these two are fairly decent folk and it is again to the film's credit that it even attempts to go anywhere near the places it ventures toward come the finale, when ideas of redemption and men seeing the errors of their ways unfold; the film providing us with a chance to reverse prior perception and yet maintain a dramatic edge whilst weaving newfound territory naturally into the proceedings. But the film's sole joy remains observing these scuzzy lowlifes whilst in the throngs of their existence try to outsmart and manoeuvre their way out of trouble, the savage elements linked to that of the overall representation of the Native Americans uneasy in hindsight, but everything else blending well and most of it working rather expertly in the long run.
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Okay Oater
zardoz-136 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Van Johnson plays a charming as well as well-appareled Confederate officer working undercover alongside Milburn Stone out the west in director Rudolph Maté's Civil War western "Siege at Red River," co-starring future Spaghetti western star Craig Hill and an up-and-coming Richard Boone. The dusty, Technicolor action unfolds in 1864 with Captain James S. Simmons, aka Jim Farraday (Van Johnson) stealing a Gatling Gun. Farraday and his partner Sgt. Benjamin 'Benjy' Guderman (Milburn Stone of "Gunsmoke") work their way from one frontier town to another singing a code song and selling snake oil medicine. Eventually, they come across a Union nurse, Nora Curtis (Joanne Dru) and caravan with her. Meantime, Pinkerton sleuth Frank Kelso (Jeff Morrow) suspects that Farraday, who claims to be a conscientious objector from Boston who paid $300 for a substitute to take his place to the war, is too good to be a true. Farraday's treacherous cohort Brett Manning (Richard Boone), a whip wielding dastard, steals the Gatling Gun and sells it to the Indians. The Civil War concludes about the same time that the Indians launch an attack on a cavalry foot with Manning operating the Gatling Gun for them. The scenery is certainly spectacular, and it appears that the filmmakers are poaching on John Ford country. This standard-issue oater won't raise any brows, but it qualifies as a pleasant way to burn time.
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Strangely captivating movie
morpen-palmer13 April 2008
I was not really concentrating on this film (on Film4), as I was reading the Sunday newspaper. However, I found my attention being more and more drawn to a plot that seemed to get more believable as it progressed. Characters were developed to the point where strangeness of behaviour became them. The lack of outright violence was a huge plus in such a story, that might easily have descended into a straight-forward gunfight. Period settings overcame obvious rigours of budget to a degree of acceptability. Though all aspects - dialogue, scenery, plot etc. - all fell short at some point, the overall effect was of a well-constructed and written movie into which a great deal of thoughtful direction had been lavished.
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