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River Of No Return

review by Zach B.



Not Rated

Running Time: 95 minutes

Starring: Robert Mitchum, Marilyn Monroe, Rorhy Calhoun, Murvyn Vye, Douglas Spencer and Tommy Rettig

Screenplay by: Frank Fenton
Based on a novel by: Louis Lantz

Directed by: Otto Preminger


Studio: Fox

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Theatrical Trailers, Restoration Comparison, Still Gallery

Specs: 2.55:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 4.0 Dolby Surround, French Stereo, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Selection

Released: May 14th, 2002



Robert Mitchum is Matt Calder. After his wife dies, he and his son decide to start again somewhere new. It's the gold rush, and the two end up rescuing a gambler named Harry Weston (Rory Calhoun) and his fiancée Kay (Marilyn Monroe). After being quite friendly to them, Weston betrays Matt, his son and everyone in a nasty fight and stealing some of his equipment, not to mention abandoning Kay. Then Kay and Matt are chased out by some local Native Americans, and soon enough, due to Weston's jealously, are forced down the River of No Return...

It's only an hour and a half, but I found "River Of No Return" pretty slow at times. I don't necessarily think its a bad movie, but it is one of those movies where its parts and elements are greater than its sum. The story isn't anything new and the characters are meant to be a bit mysterious. I usually find mysterious characters compelling, but here, I didn't have much interest. And yes, for a movie running slightly over an hour and a half, it felt more like over two hours to me.

As far as the parts greater than the whole, there is a lot to like here. First off, the lush cinematography blew my mind. The rich, beautiful shots of the Northwesten landscape are like moving portraits. They're really lovely and give off an epic, grand feel. The acting is very strong. Monroe delivers a strong and savvy performance as Kay, who is caught up in a lot, while Robert Mitchum has sweet simplicity and fine complexity in some ways as Matt. And of course, there's Rory Calhoun who is pretty irrestiable if you ask me. Overall, it can be a bit slow and annoying... but has solid performances and some good scenes, but to me, it didn't quite satisfy me.


I could never subject myself to something like this in pan and scan! Presented in its glorious 2.55:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio, "River Of No Return" looks pretty great. Yes, there are dirt pieces, blemishes, scratches and lines throughout, not to mention it looks a bit soft and sorta faded, but there is a certain beauty to this transfer. The wide landscape shots look particuarly nice and you get that great sense and feeling of what Preminger was trying to offer the audience. Detail is good, black levels are pretty good, color saturation is well done and fleshtones are accurate as well. Pretty bold transfer, but with flaws.


Presented in English 4.0 Dolby Surround, the sound mix is a bit weak. I credit Fox trying to do a remix from the Stereophonic master, but the results aren't so good. Surrounds don't sound that great, while this was Stereophonic, it does have a mono sound to it and a lot of the sounds tend to echo sorta. Still, dialogue is crisp and doesn't get in the way of the sound effects, be it saloon noises or wood chopping. The musical score and the songs are mixed well, though those have its limits. Decent and nothing more. Also included is a French stereo track, English subtitles, English closed captions and Spanish subtitles.


A two screen introduction for the Restoration Comparison, followed by a few comparisons. One deals with two laserdisc transfers, the others with the film elements. Pretty nice. Plus your Still Gallery with a variety of stills from the film.

And then those same Theatrical Trailers, one for each film in the second Marilyn Monroe collection. The "Niagara" trailer is in full frame, "Let's Make Love" in non-anamorphic widescreen, "Don't Bother To Knock" in full frame, "Monkey Business" in full frame and "River Of No Return" in anamorphic widescreen. Plus, a trailer for the original Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection.


"River Of No Return" isn't the greatest film, but it's another unique Marilyn film that shows further range from the pop culture icon mixing in the musical stuff we love her from with some daring new work. The presentation is fine on the disc and you have the usual extras. If you're a fan of Marilyn or the film, pick it up...