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ROBERT MITCHUM & MARILYN MONROE IN 'RIVER OF NO RETURN'

Mitch & Monroe take Preminger's RIVER OF NO RETURN Year: 1954
Robert Mitchum is not a devilish rogue this time... In fact he silently agrees with a preacher who considers a particularly rowdy gold mining town both Sodom and Gomorrah, and his name's Mark because it follows Matthew, "in the Bible."

Although he is alone, but not for long: After locating his 10-year-old son, left behind after a five-year prison sentence for shooting a man in the back — soon enough, father and son are working at a one house, one horse and single shotgun ranch that only the latter serves as protection for an impending Indian threat, poised within the nearby mountainside...

Poster for River of No Return
The kid's only acquaintance at the town winds up, along with her gambling lover, being saved by Mitchum — helplessly tangled in dangerous rapids right outside the small ranch-house. But Rory Calhoun, though initially affable and charming, winds up... during one of the most suspenseful scenes... taking or, "borrowing" Mitchum's gun, and then his horse: he's in a hurry to acquire gold from a deed he supposedly won legitimately in a card game...

It's not very easy for Mitchum fans to see their hero losing a fight: and it happens right in front of his son — but this is why RIVER OF NO RETURN is a nice break for an actor who's usually impenetrable...

Another River Poster
Meanwhile, the voluptuous blonde bombshell, Marilyn Monroe, singing enough guitar-slinging tunes (her character's a tent-how performer) to nearly make this a "Singing Cowgirl" picture, turns in one of her most nature performances under Preminger's extremely subtle, non-signature-style direction. He obviously did more for the actors since his usual creative camera maneuvers, that put him on equal ground with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, are used sparingly.

River of No Return SCORE: ***1/2
As an Action-Western, RIVER is just okay since the adventurous scenes on the rapids (as the trio stand atop a Huck Finn style wooden raft) are superimposed to where there seems little to no danger as the actors are obviously safe inside a Hollywood studio: buckets of water being thrown on them, and the water's probably lukewarm. What works, however, is the bond between Mitchum and Monroe, taking longer than most films where two beautiful actors are destined for romance...

What defines Monroe's character is a stubborn determination to defend the scoundrel she's in love with, and Mitchum, although seeming, at times, like he's collecting a paycheck, plays nicely off his co-starlet that, for the most part, NO RETURN works despite its own intentionally breezy self: which basically means, this proverbial airhead has a brain, or two...
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