26 January 2008 | moonspinner55
Monroe meets Mitchum--and Otto Preminger!
Nine-year old boy is reunited with his estranged father in a northwest boom town in the midst of Gold Fever; they take off for a life of fishing and hunting but are soon railroaded by a crooked gambler and his gal, a saloon singer who gets a pang of conscience and stays with dad and the kid. Soon, all three are on the run from Injuns, on a raft down a treacherous river. Lackadaisical western puts action on the back-burner to focus on character interaction, which in this case isn't such a bad thing. Robert Mitchum never puts on a big show: tough and steely, but paternal towards the kid and easy with the lady, he's gruffly polite--and unapologetic about his behavior. Marilyn Monroe is such a drama queen, she can't deliver a simple monologue without twitching something (her eyes, her lips, her nostrils); she is lovely (and, in a singing scene outdoors with the boy, very natural), but one warms to her because she's Marilyn (her legend exceeds the worn material and her over-emphatic delivery). Otto Preminger directed, but this doesn't feel like a Preminger movie. There are no tart or prodding scenes, and the dangerous rapids excursions--and Indian rampages--are not staged for maximum impact. The Indians, armed with arrows, simply seem like bad shots, and the close-up sequences on the raft were obviously achieved in the studio. Still, the occasional on-location photography is breath-taking, and the three principles grow steadily on the audience as well as towards each other. Beautiful theme song is sung in versions by both Mitchum and Monroe. **1/2 from ****