The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

Seminal Image #741

Red River
(Howard Hawks; 1948)


Vanwall said...

Wayne worked best as a bastard, I always thought. Monty stole every scene he was in, tho, IMHO. This may be the perfect Hollywood western, with a enough double-entendres to satisfy anyone.

Jeremy Richey said...

Was there ever a more symbolic break between the old and new Hollywood than this striking film? Watching these two working together is still fascinating.

Cinebeats said...

Apologies to Wayne's fans, but I've always thought the guy was a bastard. He just seems to give off that "I'm a bastard" vibe, so he's perfect in this film. I can't enjoy him in much else besides The Searchers, but I like Red River more and that's probably due to Clift's performance.

I remember first seeing this movie when I was a kid and being so taken by Clift in it. His acting style is so different from Wayne's and he comes across as a smart, sensitive guy stuck in a really harsh world here. Much like his real life I suppose. As Jeremy mentioned above, the film seems to encapsulate the "symbolic break between the old and new Hollywood."

Testify said...

Agree with much of whats been said. Don't think Wayne is simply a bastard though, the reason Red River works is not that it tells the story of good 'v ' evil but rather that it tells the story of two versions of decent/principled American masculinity one of which (ie Waynes wartime hero) is increasingly redundant in the face of the MORE PRODUCTIVE (and therefore more market friendly) management style of Clift's character. Isn't Red River ultimately about the desirability of a new corporate thinking style as opposed to the kind of blind obeidience favoured by military thinking now that the war (ww2)was over?

Vanwall said...

I always thought it was about brains over brawn, on an individual level. It's still the same old territorial imperative of the Old West. As for Duke, yeah, I can't stannn 'im (as Lina once screeched) in most of his films - where he plays against type, even just a little, he seems much more believable - "Trouble Along The Way" is one of his shaded roles I like.

shahn said...

appreciation for john wayne seems to usually be a "guy thing." i don't think i've ever encountered a woman who likes him.

Tommy O'C said...

Wayne was actually quite popular with women. But, since most of you sound like knee-jerk left-wingers, it's no wonder you meet fellow travelers who share your narrow views.

In his best roles, Wayne was a commanding, larger-than-life presence. He's the only actor who was rated among the top ten celebrities by the public in a Gallop Poll years after his death.

Tom Sutpen said...

Fellow Travelers???

I hate to break the news to you, but this is not 1953.

And please, I urge you to give the 'You're all a bunch of Communists' line a well-deserved rest; as if you were locked in mortal combat with the forces of darkness. Though I do not share the generall assessment of John Wayne reflected in this entry's comments, I wouldn't immediately assume an ideological dimension in anyone who thinks Wayne left a lot to be desired as an actor. Not everybody lets their political beliefs control their perception of everything else.