Rio Grande, one the classic John Ford westerns starring John Wayne, follows the cavalry officer Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke (Wayne) who finds himself coping with the albeit stereotypically murderous Apache Indians while also having to deal with his son whom he hasn’t seen in 15-years, who was recently dropped as a cadet from West Point and is now in the cavalry assigned to his post, and his estranged wife (Maureen O’Hara).
Rio Grande was the third part of John Ford’s renowned “Cavalry Trilogy” (Fort Apache and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, both also starring John Wayne, were the other two), but it has come to be considered the best of the three. The film was made at the B-Movie studio Republic Pictures as a precondition to Ford being able to also make his passion project, The Quiet Man at the studio. And with good reason Rio has become known as the best given its blend of classic Ford cinematography, deft camerawork and the obvious chemistry between leads Wayne and O’Hara.
What we have in this western is a blend of romance, domestic drama, and action that finds John Ford in charge of a commanding cast putting in superlative performances against the backdrop of Moab, Utah, one of the director’s favorite locations in his beloved Utah, a state he would film in throughout his career.
Rio Grande is presented on Blu-ray in an AVC 1080p encodement from a new transfer completed by Paramount in 2019. Framed at 1.37:1 in gorgeous black & white imagery, it has natural grain and very good details and still looks relatively clean for a film from 1950 without being scrubbed completely clean of texture.
Rio Grande’s original monaural soundtrack is provided in LPCM 2.0 and is a solid presentation given the limitations of the times and the age of the source. The dialogue is clear and there is little noise.
With two commentaries, two essays, an oddly non-emotive video essay and more, the included bonus features are actually quite compelling here.
- Stephen Prince Commentary
- Maureen O’Hara Commentary
- Cavalry: A Video Essay by Tag Gallagher (1.37:1; 1080p; 00:10:33)
- The Making of Rio Grande (1.33:1; 1080i; 00:22:02)
- Along the Rio Grande with Maureen O’Hara (1.33:1; 1080i; 00:18:36)
- Trailer (1.37:1; 1080p)
- Limited Edition O-Card Slipcase (First Print Run of 2000 Units Only)
- Collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by western expert Howard Hughes; a new essay by film writer Phil Hoad; transcript of an interview with John Ford; excerpts from a conversation with Harry Carey, Jr.
The Final Assessment
Rio Grande arrives for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK with this excellent 2019 restoration from Paramount released by Eureka’s Masters of Cinema. For collectors, cinephiles, and western aficionados, this is a great release.
Rio Grande is out on Blu-ray in the UK from Eureka Entertainment’s Masters of Cinema on 20 April, 2020.
- Studios & Distributors: Republic Pictures (I) | Argosy Pictures
- Director: John Ford
- Writers: James Kevin McGuinness (screenplay) | James Warner Bellah (Saturday Evening Post story)
- Run Time: 105 Mins.
- Original RRP: £19.99
- Street Date: 20 April 2020
- Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
- Video Format: AVC 1080p
- Primary Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Mono
- Subtitles: English SDH