Rio Grande, starring John Wayne VHS version
Four out of five stars
While this is in many ways a standard John Wayne western movie, there are many attempts to inject humor and in this case he has a wife and son. Wayne is an officer (Kirby Yorke) in the U. S. Cavalry stationed in the west near the Rio Grande River where it forms the border between the United States and Mexico. The local Native American tribes have united to form a formidable fighting force and Wayne must find a way to take control of the situation.
Yorke was a Union officer in the Civil War and his wife was born in the south and retained her roots, the combination split their marriage. Their son was accepted at West Point, but was expelled after failing mathematics. At that point he enlisted in the Army and has now been stationed to Yorke’s command. Yorke’s estranged wife has traveled to that post in an attempt to buy their son’s exit from the army.
There are still deep feelings between Yorke and his wife and even though Yorke has not seen his son for many years, it is clear that he also has feelings for him. It is difficult for Yorke to issue orders that have the potential to put his son in danger, even though he personally is wedded to the Army. This expression of feelings for his wife and son humanizes the character and gives Wayne the opportunity to do some real acting rather than simply punching and shooting.
The humor is at times a bit silly, yet manages to be amusing, the viewer has to remember that it was made in 1950. There is also a great deal of singing by the best voices in the western movie genre, The Sons of the Pioneers. While it is often predictable, this movie delivers entertainment in many different forms.