709 Red River

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Re: 709 Red River

#51 Post by cdnchris » Tue Sep 09, 2014 12:05 pm

I checked the DVD in the dual-format edition and I'm pretty sure it wasn't window-boxed or else I would have made a note of it (I don't have access to right at this moment.) Since at least the dual-format releases they seemed to have done away with that. Before that I can only say that And Everything is Going Fine wasn't window-boxed on DVD. (Breathless is the only dual-format release I can think of where the DVD transfer was window-boxed. Ace in the Hole's dual-format edition even had a new encode for the DVD that at least cut down the window-boxing in comparison to the old DVD.)

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Re: 709 Red River

#52 Post by movielocke » Tue Sep 09, 2014 2:47 pm

Nice. I might buy the DVD edition then to avoid the book waste. I hadn't bothered because of the window boxing image degradation of academy ratio dvds, but it was a good strategy for picnic at hanging rock.

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Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)

#53 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Dec 19, 2016 6:42 am


Members have a two week period in which to discuss the film before it's moved to its dedicated thread in The Criterion Collection subforum. Please read the Rules and Procedures.

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Re: Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)

#54 Post by FrauBlucher » Mon Dec 19, 2016 7:20 am

I am one of those who didn't love the ending, even though everything else was terrific, so I'm curious to read what folks think about this film.

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Re: Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)

#55 Post by knives » Mon Dec 19, 2016 11:38 am

Supposedly Domino has a defense of it. I was left non-plussed either way. It's not a good tonal fit, but there's something sickly humourous about it like the friendship achieved at the end of The Hateful Eight that I like in spite of myself.

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Re: Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)

#56 Post by bearcuborg » Mon Dec 19, 2016 12:56 pm

If Matt killed Tom, which the movie establishes he would in a gun fight, he essentially replaces him as the bad guy. So he chose to save him instead. Essentially that's what I remember Robin Wood's reasoning in his book.

I always loved the film till that point, not so much because of the decision to save Tom - but in its execution of it...it just seems to fast pedal to that end, rather than establishing as much. Knives has a good point.

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Re: Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)

#57 Post by Drucker » Fri Dec 23, 2016 11:40 am

Re-watched Red River last night and decided to watch the Pre-release version this time. I'd only seen the theatrical version once before, but in general I couldn't point out the differences and I enjoyed it just as much the second time around as the first. I will say that I'm aware the final sequence is longer in the Pre-release, and I have to say that it didn't feel as abrupt as it had when watching the theatrical version. I also found the "pages" far from distracting, and considering how short they are on screen for, it added to the atmosphere for me rather than distract from it. They add a bit of texture and remind you that you are being told a story. I wouldn't call it better or worse than the voice over narrative. Considering how unimportant the details in the pages are, I did really like the feel of the pages turning.

I'm not the Hawks expert many others here surely are, but obviously male camaraderie is essential to this film. What I found interesting about Red River is how many of the relationships are rooted in a minor conflict that doesn't really go anywhere. Clift and Ireland plant a seed early on for a potential rivalry that never coalesces. Brennan and The Chief have a rivalry and minor feud throughout the film. There's an ongoing rivalry between Wayne and Clift as well. Perhaps most importantly, there seems to be a rivalry between both sides of John Wayne's character: the ambitious man that wants to build a life for and take care of his loved ond es, and the angry man within him that feels scorned and bitter when love isn't reciprocated properly--it's that shortcoming which almost undoes him.

In the end there's a real optimism to the film and from what I remember it's present in the few other Hawks I've seen I believe (Rio Bravo, Only Angels Have Wings, and His Girl Friday). That is that the characters are better off together and united. There are conflicts and outside forces that can disrupt the insular worlds and characters that make up his films, but at the end of the day, minor conflicts can get out of hand very quickly, and sticking together is the right course of action for most of these groups.

In Red River, with a world based around men and companionship, of course, it's up the woman in their life to explicitly call out their emotions and their true feelings. In the end we are back where we started: with two men who love one another about to set out on another journey.

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Re: Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)

#58 Post by Sloper » Wed Dec 28, 2016 5:57 pm

Good points, Drucker – especially about how minor the conflicts seem at first glance, and about the two sides of Dunson’s personality. There’s a big unanswered question here about why he becomes murderously angry with Matt. We see at the beginning that his strength/flaw is stubbornness, when the woman begs him to change his mind ‘for once in his life’, and he refuses – and she dies as a result. This stubbornness also enables him to build up a vast herd of cattle over fourteen years, and perhaps makes him stick around in Texas for longer than he ought to have done. It enables him to drive the herd a long way up the Chisholm Trail – as Matt says, they wouldn’t have got as far as they did without Dunson’s determination – but it also makes him deaf to the suggestion that they go to Abilene instead. In this instance, as when he tells his fiancée to stay with the wagon train, he sets his mind on what seems to him the safest option. She ought to have been safer with the wagon train than with him and Groot; they don’t know for sure that there is a railway in Abilene. Once he’s made a calculation about how things should be done, he upholds the law thus established, no matter what extremes or abuses he has to go to. Groot and Matt repeatedly indicate that they think he is ‘wrong’ to brutalise the men, but it’s important to recognise that whenever he goes to these extremes, he does so in cold blood: not out of rage or sadism, but because as far as he knows this thing has got to be done. He can just about stand to be told that he is wrong, and that he should be more flexible – as long as no one actually stops him from doing what he thinks is right. The result is a genuinely complex character, driven by a code that is hard to make sense of to an outsider, but seems to be understood on an instinctive level by Groot and Matt, even when they stand against Dunson.

I like the idea that his rage stems from a feeling that his love for Matt is ‘not reciprocated properly’. The relationship between these two begins with a violent conflict, and a death threat, and it’s understood that – rather like the romances in Bringing Up Baby, I Was a Male War Bride, etc. – this is a love defined partly by rivalry. Drucker points out that the women in Hawks’ films often have to spell out, and draw out, the emotional dynamics between the opaque men, which I guess partly explains the ending of Red River (which I don’t like, but which seems very Hawksian). Further to that, I think one effect of the interrupting-and-overlapping dialogue that’s so characteristic of Hawks is to suggest an unspoken rapport between these people: they don’t have to wait for each other to finish their sentences, and can even change the subject of the conversation without disrupting the flow. Indeed they can talk about several different things at once. The really remarkable thing about these intricately directed exchanges is that they appear seamless rather than chaotic, like conversational fugues – whereas Welles, for example, often uses the same technique to create a sense of disorientation and fragmentation.

In other words, Hawks is very good at showing how these very loving relationships are constituted by a kind of ongoing harmonious conflict. When Matt instigates the mutiny and takes Dunson’s herd away from him, he disrupts that harmony, hence Dunson’s fury. In the end, the conflict is resolved not by Dunson being killed, or by Dunson realising he needs to be more flexible (although he does this, not terribly convincingly); instead it is resolved through conflict. As soon as the fistfight begins, Groot says, ‘For fourteen years I’ve been scared, but it’s gonna be alright’. Perhaps he’s been scared because the conflict between Dunson and Matt – unlike the sniping between Dunson and Groot, for instance – has always bubbled under the surface, with Matt doubting Dunson’s authority but gritting his teeth and following orders anyway. The result has been a build-up of pressure over fourteen years, and the pressure can only be released by either a fatal duel or a more sociable fistfight. The latter enables the two men to let off steam without doing permanent damage, and can be stopped by Tess (they really needed a Jean Arthur type in this role, Joanne Dru doesn’t quite pull it off) when it starts to look dangerous. As in Only Angels Have Wings, The Big Sky and Rio Bravo, Hawks shows us a weird little network of relationships, grounded in all sorts of unwritten and seemingly contradictory rules, dedicated to a foolhardy but heroic endeavour, haunted by the prospect of imminent and virtually un-mourned death at every turn – and somehow it’s a pleasure and a privilege to feel like we’re in these people’s company for a couple of hours.

While we’re complaining about the ending: is anyone else frustrated by the vagueness with which Cherry Valance is dispatched? We see a couple of men run over to tend to him after Dunson shoots him down (implying that he’ll pull through, I guess?), but then he just gets left behind by the unstoppable happy ending. I like John Ireland, and it’s a real shame his part got marginalised throughout the film, but it’s especially weird that we don’t get a clear confirmation about his ultimate fate. Perhaps that was Hawks’ final slap in the face to Ireland, implying that it didn’t even matter whether his character lived or died.

Also, I love Montgomery Clift. It was brave to cast an actor as sensitive and subtle as him in this kind of film, but it really pays off: the interplay between the acting styles of Wayne, Clift and Brennan (and Ireland, now and then) is a joy to behold.

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Re: Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948) ugh

#59 Post by ando » Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:00 am

Sloper wrote:The really remarkable thing about these intricately directed exchanges is that they appear seamless rather than chaotic, like conversational fugues – whereas Welles, for example, often uses the same technique to create a sense of disorientation and fragmentation.
Absolutely. I think Hawks once said something to the effect of They're really finishing each other's sentences. Whereas, with Welles' overlapping dialogue it's more of a aural contrast - filmic counterpoint, if you will. It's especially effective in films like Touch of Evil and, of course, Chimes at Midnight, where it hightens Shakespeare's regular use of this almost musical effect.

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Re: Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)

#60 Post by Rayon Vert » Mon Jan 02, 2017 2:55 am

I love this film and one of the things I like is how the Wayne character progressively becomes hateful but is very likeable at the start, so that the finale, with him reverting to humanness and goodness, makes sense and is very satisfying. A complex character, prefiguring Ethan in The Searchers.

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Re: 709 Red River

#61 Post by dwk » Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:45 pm

Blu-ray only edition coming out on May 29th. No word if this drops the book.

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Re: 709 Red River

#62 Post by Costa » Wed Feb 21, 2018 3:29 pm

haven't still seen this film, but based on caps-a-holic I prefer the more grainy, contrasty, darker look of the Eureka release.

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Re: 709 Red River

#63 Post by nitin » Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:48 pm

In this case, overall, the new master prepared by Criterion is much preferable to the older MGM master used by MoC. Plus having both cuts is also a major plus.

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Re: 709 Red River

#64 Post by Robespierre » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:49 pm

About how long does it take Mulvaney to respond to e-mails? One of the spindles in my digipak is damaged and I only need that replaced so I sent out an e-mail a few days ago; I don't need discs or booklet. Or perhaps someone can direct me to a better way to get a new digipak before the dual format option is out of print?

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Re: 709 Red River

#65 Post by Yaanu » Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:56 pm

Robespierre wrote:About how long does it take Mulvaney to respond to e-mails? One of the spindles in my digipak is damaged and I only need that replaced so I sent out an e-mail a few days ago; I don't need discs or booklet. Or perhaps someone can direct me to a better way to get a new digipak before the dual format option is out of print?
You ought to be getting a response soon. But in case you don't, I believe seeking a replacement case is as easy as sending $5 via PayPal to one of Criterion's email addresses (I can't remember it off-hand) with a shipping address and a comment specifying what you require.

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Re: 709 Red River

#66 Post by Robespierre » Wed Mar 14, 2018 10:12 pm

Ah ok thanks I will look on the site to see if I can find links to this e-mail address.

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Re: 709 Red River

#67 Post by Feego » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:21 pm

Try e-mailing this address: orders@criterion.com. I needed a replacement case once and received a quick response through this address. In my case, I had ordered the movie directly from Criterion's site, so I don't know if that will make a difference, but it can't hurt to try.

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Re: 709 Red River

#68 Post by Robespierre » Thu Mar 15, 2018 4:24 pm

Ok cool thanks a lot I'll shoot them an e-mail.

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Re: 709 Red River

#69 Post by Marwood » Sun Apr 22, 2018 10:16 pm

Regarding the non-dual-format version that’s being released soon, I sent an e-mail to Mulvaney asking if the packaging would change to an amaray. This is the response I got:

Thanks for writing. This re-issue of RED RIVER is only a packaging change and the disc itself is not being re-pressed. The Blu-ray will be in a cardboard digipak and will continue to carry the book. The DVD only edition is on plastic and does not have the book included.

I hope this helps!

So, in other words, it's not going to be an amaray.

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