18 November 2009 | TheUnknown837-1
I don't remember a whole lot about the original "Red River", except that it was a lot more rich and entertaining than its lackluster remake
The last time I saw the original 1948 "Red River" with John Wayne was when I was about ten years old. I don't remember a whole lot of it other than it was a rich, enthralling Western like "The Searchers" (1956) and in no need for a remake. But, four decades after its release, it was remade
and rather poorly, which is very disappointing since its two leads were very well-cast.
Wayne's friend James Arness takes his role in the remake and Montgomery Clift's role is redone by Bruce Boxleitner. These two would later work well again in one of the "Gunsmoke" movies. And even with this mincemeat teleplay, they manage to communicate much of the spirit that the original actors did in the original film.
However, that does not make the remake of "Red River" a good movie. Rather, it's a flat and mediocre adaptation of a beloved classic. There is some nice scenery, good performances, and swell intentions, but the problem is that the screenwriters wrote this with such low enthusiasm and maybe a little too much respect for the original, as if they realized in the process of writing that they couldn't even come close to the source and didn't bother to put much effort into it. It seems like they expected all viewers to already know the original "Red River" by heart and therefore be able to close up all the holes and gaps that were being formed here. The point of a remake is to at least illuminate the original, update it, and maybe strength a few weak spots, not open new ones. There is very little character strength, no real sense of connection, gaps of logic, a completely unnecessary addition of a love triangle, and an ending that is even more rushed than the surprisingly sudden ending of the original. In short, the remake of "Red River" can be described in two simple words: boring and unnecessary.