Marilyn Monroe – River of No Return 1954

We go back again to Marilyn for one of her best remembered films with Robert Mitchum made in Cinemascope and Technicolor. Much of the filming was done in and around Banff and Jasper in Canada.

Brief Synopsis of the Film:-

Robert Mitchum is released from jail, picks up his ten year old son and decides to live on a farm. He rescues a couple from a raft on the river (Marilyn Monroe and Rory Calhoun). Calhoun wants to register a gold claim, and from then on its Marilyn, Mitchum, the boy, the raft and the river –  not to mention the Indians.   Marilyn is fabulous in this role and at her most glamorous.   The beautiful scenery- made even more impressive by the use of cinemascope,   Marilyn at her prime,  Mitchum good as always  together make River of No Return an outstanding western.

Robert Mitchum was the only one of her leading men who knew her from way back in 1941 before he made his screen debut – in a film starring  Hopalong Cassidy.  Before his film career took off  Mitchum had worked in an  aircraft factory along with James Daugherty who had just married  Norma Jean and the four socialised on occasions.

He knew all about her psychological problems and when it came  to making  a film with her when both had become well known screen actors,  Mitchum did not seem keen to get  himself involved.  However  during the shooting of the film Marilyn and director Otto Preminger had a major fall out and stopped speaking and would only communicate through Mitchum.  This may not have been entirely Marilyn’s fault because Preminger was a difficult man – a few years later he subjected a young unknown Jean Seberg to quite a difficult time during the making of St.Joan 1957. In fairness to him though he had plucked her from obscurity to star in a major film – so he did give her a great chance.

In River of No Return Marilyn plays a  saloon girl who gets involved with  a no good gambler/drifter played by  Rory Calhoun.    Calhoun and Monroe almost  drown in a river when Robert Mitchum rescues them and their raft. Following such a good deed  Rory Calhoun  steals their horses and then the three – now including Mitchum’s son in the film played by a young Tommy Rettig – go in pursuit of him. 

Marilyn  proves to be quite a distraction and at one point Mitchum does give into his feelings ever so briefly.

Twentieth Century Fox decided to go out on location in a big way for the  shooting the film – in fact up to Banff  in the Canadian Rockies – although with Marilyn and Otto feuding it was not a happy set.   Preminger  eventually walked out on the picture and Jean Negulesco finished it off.   During this time  Joe de Maggio, Marilyn’s husband   flew up because of rumours about her and Mitchum which were unfounded .   This was a film though that Otto Preminger shuddered about when recalling it in later years.


Watch the Trailer to this exciting film on the Link below :-

 It was made in Cinemascope and 3D apparently which I have only just learned about – although since writing this I cannot find any reference to it being in 3D from any official source – so maybe I have the wrong information here.  

 I do remember seeing it up on that large wide screen and it was very impessive.   Not really a film for TV though as it loses so much on the relatively small screen.

Tommy Rettig.

An interesting character – Tommy Rettig (December 10, 1941 – February 15, 1996) was an American child actor who later became a wizard on computer programming.    He will be best remembered for portraying the character “Jeff Miller” in the first three seasons of  the TV series Lassie between  1954 and 1957.    He was also in another Western which has been featured on this Blog – The Last Wagon – one of my favourites a few years after River of No Return.

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