River of No Return [VHS]

The dew of new stardom was still visible on Marilyn Monroe when she ventured up to Canada to shoot River of New Return (1954), a sturdily entertaining CinemaScope Western. Although director Otto Preminger later claimed little interest in the picture, he couldn’t help but bring his even-handed visual style to the widescreen process. The location shooting (in Alberta) is eye-filling, and that river really does look alarming. Best of all, a fresh and vital Marilyn had a costar to match her magnetism but not humour her sometimes scattered approach to acting. Robert Mitchum, as a homesteader with a dark past, is weighty enough to stand next to MM’s bright flame without giving any ground; they should have worked together again. Since Marilyn plays a saloon singer, she gets to croon some tunes in her inimitable style, with as much glamour as the gold rush-era trappings will allow, giving “I’m Going to File My Claim” previously unexplored shades of meaning. —Robert Horton, Amazon.com