Otto Preminger

. Sog.: Louis Lantz. Scen.: Frank Fenton. F.: Joseph La Shelle. M.: Louis Loeffler. Scgf.: Lyle Wheeler, Addison Hehr. Mus.: Cyril J. Mockridge, Lionel Newman. Int.: Robert Mitchum (Matt Calder), Marilyn Monroe (Kay), Rory Calhoun (Harry Weston), Tommy Rettig (Mark Calder), Murvyn Vye (Dave Colby), Douglas Spencer (Sam Benson), Barbara Nichols (ballerina), Arthur Shields (prete), John Doucette (padron del saloon). Prod.: Stanley Rubin per 20th Century Fox DCP. D.: 91’

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

River of No Return was a studio film designed to showcase two of 20th Century-Fox’s assets: CinemaScope and Marilyn Monroe. It was assigned to Otto Preminger, then a contract director ill at ease in his subordinate position. When Zanuck, after viewing the first cut, invented three new scenes and had Jean Negulesco direct them, Preminger made up his mind from then on to work as an independent producer-director. Actually, entrusting the job to Preminger – who didn’t seem like the perfect choice to direct Marilyn, make a western, or shoot away from the soundstage – turned out to be a fortunate move. So was the confrontation between Mitchum and Marilyn, opposing a man of the land, living according to his codes, to a derelict chanteuse, a slave to twists of fate. Along with the two songs performed by Marilyn, the best scenes are those in which they act together. In the end, the hazards of production – highly publicized when it came to the two stars and their authoritarian director – benefitted the film. Matt Calder is one of Mitchum’s most balanced characters. The pre-credits sequence shows him as he fells a tree, an iconic image of both union with, and conquest of, nature. By moving away from film noir and claustrophobic sets, Preminger was acquiring a serenity of sorts, a “taste of happiness” (Jacques Lourcelles) which makes River of No Return an exhilarating experience, only marred by some hammy character actors and rear projection to surround truly adventurous scenes with Canadian exteriors.

Bernard Eisenschitz

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