Michael Bergeron
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Blue-ray slight return: Chisholm Trail edition

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In the biography of Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood by Todd McCarthy the evolution of Red River (1948) suggests an entirely different film. Hawks wanted Gary Cooper, Cary Grant and real life cowboy Casey Tibbs for the leads with Margaret Sheridan as the femme card shark.

Leon casino, The cast would eventually be John Wayne, in a sort of turnabout role as an unsympathetic character that actually became one of his most memorable roles; Broadway actor Montgomery Clift in his first movie appearance; and John Ireland, whose part as Cherry Valance was eventually cut by Hawks to a barely supporting role; with Joanne Dru replacing Sheridan when the latter became pregnant. At that point in his career Hawks had successfully helmed every genre but a true western, although he had directed parts of The Outlaw (1943), which was finished by its producer Howard Hughes.

Other previous Hawks films although set in the 19th century – Barbary Coast and Come and Get It – were dramas that lacked the historical western scope of Red River, which focuses on the first massive cattle drive across America. Red River (Criterion Collection, 5/27) can also be considered a psychological western since many of the character interactions are based on relations and manipulations of same by the various trail herders. The movie comes in a dual format release that has DVD and Blu-ray versions of the movie in two different edits.

The release version runs about half-a-reel shorter than the pre-release version. The versions are practically alike except that the pre-release uses written book pages to advance the narrative (not unlike the titles in a silent movie) and the release version uses Walter Brennan’s voice-over narration. The big change is in the last few minutes of the film concerning the showdown between Wayne and Clift.

Howard Hughes had threatened to sue because of the similarities to the ending of The Outlaw and Hawks’ editor Christian Nyby was given the task of editing the ending to suit Hughes taste. Extras on the disc go into the politics of the two versions, and also include comments from Peter Bogdanovich who’d interviewed Hawks extensively in the ‘60s. Additional extras include a version of the film as it was presented as a radio show, as well as interview segments by original author Borden Chase and critics like Molly Haskell.

The impact of Red River on modern cinema cannot be ignored. At one point Clift and others ride in to rescue Dru and her wagon train from an attack by Indians. In a pivotal moment Dru is addressing Clift when she takes an arrow in her shoulder. Without missing a beat, and seemingly ignoring the wound, she goes on with her lines. Werner Herzog used the same action beats in a scene from Aguirre, God of Wrath. Red River amazes with its combination of epic scale, stampede scenes, editing, cinematography and offbeat characters. The Blu-ray transfer is sharp with outdoor scenes luxuriating in grain.

Director Cost- Gavras has always been attracted to social-political stories from his groundbreaking Z (1969) to Missing (1982) to Betrayed (1988), and now Capital (2012). Capital (Cohen Media Group, 6/10) feels similar in theme to Wolf of Wall Street although the tone is totally different. French comedian Gad Elmaleh (Midnight in Paris) gives a serious turn as the CEO of a major European bank that is manipulated by his board. The board wants to buy out a distressed Japanese bank, and then when their stock price goes down use their own money to buy up their now hemorrhaging firm at a discount.

The plot is complex and the banking action takes place on an international scale – Tokyo, London, Paris, New York City. Eventually Elmaleh plays his own game and collects incriminating evidence of inside trading against his co-workers. Only the question is does he intend to go to jail for his beliefs or use his damning evidence to usurp power in the company. Gabriel Byrne co-stars. Extras include interviews with Costa-Gavras, Byrne and an on-set segment with Elmaleh.

— Michael Bergeron