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Monday, January 18, 2016

Hear Dimitri Tiomkin’s Epic Score to the Classic Howard Hawks/John Wayne/Montgomery Clift Western, Red River, in 38 Tracks! (Videos)

 

 

By Nicholas Stix
Slightly revised on Monday, February 22, 2016, at 9:10 p.m.

Red River is considered one of the three or four greatest Westerns ever made. It is a fictional telling of the first cattle drive using the Chisholm Trail.

The time is 1871 or ’72. Ruthless cattle baron Thomas Dunson has built the biggest cattle ranch in Texas out of virtually nothing, helped by his old friend, Nadine Groot (Walter Brennan) and the orphan he adopted, Matt Garth (Montgomery Clift), when the boy’s family was wiped out by the same Commanche band that slaughtered Dunson’s betrothed, and which tried to kill him and Groot.

The dazed, shocked boy has one cow, the bitter but unbowed Dunson has one bull, and that is how the “D Red River” brand is born.

 

Walter Brennan, l, as Nadine Groot; John Wayne, center, as Thomas Dunson, and Mickey Kuhn as the young Matt Garth
 

After the war, the Union declares economic and political war on the South, which destroys the market for beeves. Dunson will have to either move his herd to market in Missouri, die trying, at the hands of cut-throat border gangs or Indians, or lose everything.

Dunson is a murderous psychopath. I first saw this picture 42 years ago, and I vaguely recalled that aspect of his personality, but not the particulars. It’s a miracle the picture got past the censors, but this came at a steep price.

There is a conflict during the cattle drive. The men think they ought to change direction, and head towards Abilene, Kansas, where a couple of them heard tell of a railroad line, rather than Missouri, which is a much longer, more dangerous trail. The problem is, the railroad is just a rumor; no one’s actually seen it.

As far as Dunson is concerned, disagreement is a capital offense.

John Ford and Wayne were supposedly best friends, and yet for several years, Ford had been artistically inhibiting Wayne. In the face of Wayne’s revelatory performance for Hawks as Tom Dunson, Ford legendarily exclaimed, “I didn’t know the big son-of-a-bitch could act!”

 

John Ireland, l, as gunslinger Cherry Valance; John Wayne, c, and Montgomery Clift as the grown-up Matthew Garth

The influence that this picture had on the Western cannot be exaggerated. I am thinking especially of the epic Larry McMurtry novel, 30 years later, Lonesome Dove, and the magnificent miniseries 1989 made out of it. Capt. Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones) is a kinder, gentler, Thomas Dunson.

At the time, Dimitri Tiomkin’s music was the boldest, most ambitious score ever written for a Western. He weaves his own, original themes together with the most famous cowboy music ever composed, as well as 19th century standards by Stephen Foster.
 

The Two Main Themes
 


 

Track 1
 


 

Published on Oct 24, 2013

Track 1 of the original soundtrack of the classic Western film Red River, composed by Dimitri Tiomkin.
 

Track 2 - Dunson Heads South
 


 

Track 3 - Red River Camp
 


 

Track 4 - The Red Menace Strikes
 


 

Track 5 - The Lone Survivor
 


 

Track 6 - Birth of Red River D
 


 

Track 7 - Mexican Burial
 


 

Track 8 - Growth of the Dunson Empire
 


 

Track 9 - Roundup
 


 

Track 10 - Suspense at Dawn
 


 

Track 11 - On to Missouri
 


 

Track 12 - The Drive Moves North
 



 
Track 13 - The Brazos Trail
 


 

Track 14 - Stampede
 


 

Track 15 - The Missing Cowboy
 

See if you recognize the most famous cowboy music ever composed, which Tiomkin wove into this passage at two different intervals.
 


 

Track 16 - Latimer Burial
 


 

Track 17 - Thunder on the Trail
 


 

Track 18 - Red River Ahead
 


 

Track 19 - Red River Crossing
 


 

Track 20 - Cottonwood Justice
 



 
Track 21 - Dunson Swears Vengeance
 


 

Track 22 - Comanche Arrows
 


 

Track 23 - In Wait
 


 

Track 24 - Fight for Life
 


 

Track 25 - Vigil in the Night

 

 

Track 26 - Foggy Night Surrender
 


 

Track 27 - The Spectre Takes Form
 


 

Track 28 - Interlude
 


 

Track 29 - Out of the Past
 


 

Track 30 - Memory of Love
 


 

Track 31 - A Joyous Meeting
 


 

Track 32 - Approach to Abilene
 


 

Track 33 - A Big Day for Abilene
 



 

 

Track 34 - The Spectre Closes in
 


 

Track 35 - A Message for Matt
 


 

Track 36 - The Challenge
 


 

Track 37 - The New Brand
 


 

Joanne Dru, as Tess Millay

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