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River of No Return

20th Century Fox/20th Century Fox . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . PG . PAL


River of No Return is one of the two highlights of the Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection Volume 3 - the other being the classic comedy, Some Like it Hot. In fact take those two films, and add Gentlemen Prefer Blondes from the second box set, and you have the definitive Monroe collection - there's no real need to go past those three movies.

River of No Return was directed by one of the greats of the industry, Otto Preminger. It's really a bit of old hokey, but once you get past the trite nature of its plot (bar room singer with a heart of gold finds true love out West), and if you can ignore the occasional touch of politically incorrect macho-sadism verging on rape, it comes over as fast and slick and entertaining. And Marilyn looks just great, particularly in the saloon scene as she sings the film's title-song.

While the main actors (Marilyn, Robert Mitchum and Tommy Rettig as Mitchum's young son) are all great, the outstanding star of the movie is the landscape - the raging river, the sweeping countryside around it. Some of the effects seem crude nowadays, as in the scene of a raft being hurled down rapids, with a cut to Marilyn straining at a tiller, her tight shirt liberally doused with water, and the river obviously projected onto a screen immediately behind her. You just have to kick in the old 'willing suspension of disbelief' and hang in there for the ride.

Marilyn Monroe and Robert Mitchum are well-known, but most people nowadays wouldn't know or remember Tommy Rettig. He was in fact a pretty big star at the time - he was featured in the first television series of Lassie, was the star of the cult Dr Seuss movie The 5000 Fingers of Dr T, then inevitably grew up and went to jail a couple of times for cultivating marijuana. Tommy Rettig died relatively young - but by then he had achieved a different kind of fame, as one of America's outstanding pioneer computer programmers.

That's just a bit of useless trivia to help you appreciate a pretty good movie!


The film is delivered in a widescreen anamorphic transfer which seems clean enough. And a direct comparison with the Region 1 release of this movie shows that the local version is a better transfer - the colours are richer, while the colour setting for the Region 1 release had to be cranked right up to get the proper luscious tone for Marilyn's luscious skin (and you get to see quite a bit of it).

The anamorphic transfer of this 2.55.1 aspect ratio movie is sharp, with as good a result as one could hope to get from a film of this period - it dates from 1954, only one year after the introduction of Cinemascope, but this transfer makes you think the cinematographer had thought in widescreen all his life.


The four-channel Dolby Digital mix delivers nothing flash, but is very clean, clear and coherent.


Theatrical trailer: It's anamorphic, but one wonders why they bothered - it's a very dirty print, and is really of curiosity value only.

Restoration comparison footage: This is momentarily interesting, but nothing special.

Still Gallery: Some nice pics but again, nothing special.


This is definitely collectable - it's one of Marilyn's better movies. It's not worth buying the box set for though on its own - wait until it is on sale as a single volume, or rent it.

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      And I quote...
    "Laid-back bruiser Robert Mitchum meets his match when he runs into the bar room singer with a heart of gold, Marilyn Monroe, in this Boy's-Own, gung-ho action Western. "
    - Anthony Clarke
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          Panasonic A330
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