[box cover]

River of No Return

Marilyn Monroe: The Diamond Collection, Vol. II

  • Don't Bother to Knock
  • Let's Make Love
  • Monkey Business (1952)
  • Niagara
  • River of No Return
  • Though people love to discuss Marilyn Monroe the underrated actress (which is true — she was a great comedienne), rarely do they argue about MM the underrated singer. As proven in classic films like Some Like it Hot, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the less classic Let's Make Love (where her rendition of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" is one of the best versions of that song ever recorded), Marilyn could sing. And she could sing with great soul, humor and character, her pipes full of that unmistakable voice no other singer possessed. Isn't that the sign of an original artist? This writer says yes, and in Otto Preminger's 1954 River of No Return, Marilyn shows off her vocal range splendidly. Whether vamping it up for a bunch of rowdy gold miners with "I'm Going to File My Claim" or singing softly on guitar to a little boy, she lights up this CinemaScope Western with joy and heart. Though Preminger didn't particularly like this film, he capably directs a beautifully bright, often exciting picture that showcases not only the lush beauty of MM but the rugged magnetism of another beautiful lug, Robert Mitchum (oh yes, the natural scenery is lovely too). You'd think that that much sex appeal by two stars in one movie would cancel each other out, but River keeps their chemistry well balanced thanks to Mitchum's laconic performance — he actually plays a man initially disinterested in a woman who looks like Marilyn Monroe. Mitchum is farmer Matt Calder, who after reuniting with his young son Mark (Tommy Rettig), rescues singer Kay (Monroe) and her shady fiancé Harry Weston (Rory Calhoun), who are traveling via raft down the river. Intent on making a gold claim, Weston ends up with Calder's horse and gun, abandoning his rescuers and even his own girlfriend, which the ever non-trustful Calder sensed would happen. After an Indian attack, the trio finds refuge on a raft and head down the river, which provides the film's hair-raising adventure. Mitchum is great to look at and wonderfully low key, making for his eventual romance with Monroe all the more intense, and little Rettig is a capable, pleasant child actor who truly appears comforted by Monroe's care (what kid wouldn't?). It's not Anatomy of a Murder, but River of No Return is a splendid entertainment aided by two great looking people getting wet, a lot. And remember, Marilyn sings. Fox's DVD release features an exquisite anamorphic transfer (2.55:1), while audio comes in Dolby Digital 4.0 (French DD stereo is also here). Supplements include trailers from Monroe's other Diamond Collection films, a stills gallery, and a great restoration comparison. Keep-case.
    —Kim Morgan

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