| The last of John
Fords cavalry movies is the most sentimental. It was almost as if he was revving
up his emotions for The Quiet Man, that wonderful bit of
romantic blarney set in picturesque Ireland.
It's Indian country in the 1870's and Lt. Colonel Kirby York is a veteran cavalry officer given the task of hunting down renegade Apaches who are using the border with Mexico as an escape route. Into this dangerous world rides young Trooper Jeff York, Kirby's son whom he hasn't seen for years. While moved by seeing his boy, York tries to balance his military ethics with the emotions he is feeling. Before you can brush the dust from a uniform, Kathleen, York's estranged wife arrives in camp to try and bring her son back from the frontier. It is inevitable that the Colonel and his lady are thrown together and discover their deep feelings of love cannot be contained. It's also inevatable that young York must prove himself as a soldier and Colonel York must prove himself human. It all happens with satisfying predictability, broken up by some surprising romantic moments and some outstanding trick horseback riding.
John Wayne is really quite marvelous as Kirby York,
the ramrod career colonel. Wayne communicates York's conflicting emotions well, struggling
with the sword up his backside and desire in his heart. I like the smaller moments in Rio
Grande when the actors are not dwarfed by the great outdoors. The quiet night scenes
which Ford infuses with music and serenades are especially lovely. Maureen O'Hara makes
her first appearance opposite Wayne as Kathleen and she is feisty and beautiful as can be.
Claude Jarman, Jr. is somewhat flat as Jeff York, but Ford regulars Victor McLaglen, Harry
Carey, Jr. and Ben Johnson more than make up for it with their