Rio Grande (film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Rio Grande is a 1950 film and the third installment of John Ford's "cavalry trilogy", following Fort Apache (1948) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). John Wayne stars in all three films, as Captain Kirby Yorke (York) in Fort Apache, then as Capt. of Cavalry Nathan Cutting Brittles in She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and finally as a promoted Lieutenant Colonel Kirby Yorke (York) in Rio Grande.

Ford wanted to make The Quiet Man first, but the man pulling the purse strings at Republic Pictures, Herbert Yates, insisted that Ford make Rio Grande first, using the same combination of Wayne and Maureen O'Hara; Yates didn't feel that the script of The Quiet Man was that good, and wanted Rio Grande out first to pay for The Quiet Man. (To Yates's surprise The Quiet Man, on its eventual release in 1952, would become Republic's number one film and become a favorite of Ford/Wayne fans.)

Plot

In Rio Grande Col. Yorke is posted on the frontier to defend settlers against renegade Apaches. Col. Yorke is under considerable stress between the Apaches and the young-raw recruits sent to the post--in numbers far inadequate to the needs of his command. Tension is added when Yorke's son (who he hasn't seen in fifteen years), Trooper Jeff Yorke (Claude Jarman Jr.), is posted to the fort. Not wanting the other men to think he is favoring his son, he ends up being harder on him. Enter the estranged Mrs. Kathleen Yorke (Maureen O'Hara) who has come to take the under-age Yorke home with her, the Colonel and Mrs. Yorke figure out it would be best to let young Jeff grow up and make the decision whether to stay or leave for himself; he chooses to stay. The tension brought about in the fight for their son rekindles the love they once had for each other. Yorke is visited by his former Civil War commander, Phil Sheridan, now Chief General of Army. Sheridan has decided to order Yorke to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico, an action with grave political problems since it could well be seen as an act of war against Mexico. If Yorke fails in his mission to destroy the Apache threat he faces the threat of court-martial. Sheridan, in a quiet act of acknowledgement of what he is asking Yorke to risk, promises that the members of the court will be men who rode with through the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War. Yorke accepts the mission. Now Col. Yorke must fight to save, and put back together, his family and his honor. Some aspects of the story, notably the regiment's crossing into Mexico, and undertaking a campaign there, loosely resemble the expedition conducted by the Fourth Cavalry under Colonel Ranald Mackenzie in 1873.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Rio Grande (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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