Perhaps one of the most underrated of the collaborations between director John Ford and star John Wayne, Rio Grande manages to be both a conclusion and a new beginning for this most iconic of actor-filmmaker collaborators. The film is the final entry in Ford and Wayne’s “Cavalry Trilogy,” following their hits Fort Apache (1948) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949). Yet it also marks the first of five appearances Wayne made with actress Maureen O’Hara, three of which were directed by Ford.
Wayne is Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke, attached to the Texas frontier in 1879 to protect settlers from attacks by Apaches. When Yorke’s son – a West Point flunkee turned Army private – is assigned to his father’s regiment, tensions flare upon the arrival of Yorke’s estranged wife Kathleen (O’Hara), who wants their teenaged son out of Yorke’s unit. After Apaches attack, the stakes of Yorke’s mission escalate, and he must journey to Mexico where the Apaches are hiding out. With his son and two old recruits (Ford/Wayne regulars Ben Johnson and Harry Carey Jr.) as accompaniment, Yorke faces his toughest battle.
The Quiet Man (1952) may be the most fondly remembered collaboration between Ford, Wayne, and O’Hara, but ironically, that classic wouldn’t even exist if not for Rio Grande, as studio Republic was so (incorrectly!) certain that the later film would lose money, that they only agreed to its production on the condition that Ford and his collaborators make another western first to cover the costs. But Rio Grande stands on its own as yet another outstanding meeting of these remarkable talents.
1080p presentation on Blu-ray, from a new transfer completed by Paramount’s preservation department in 2019
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Brand new and exclusive feature-length audio commentary by western authority Stephen Prince
Scene specific audio commentary with Maureen O'Hara
A video essay on the film by John Ford expert and scholar Tag Gallagher
Along the Rio Grande with Maureen O’Hara – archival documentary
The Making of Rio Grande – archival featurette
A 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.