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When Peter Bogdanovich needed a movie to play as the final feature in the doomed small-town theater in “ The Last Picture Show ,” he chose Howard Hawks' “Red River” (1948). He selected the scene where John Wayne tells Montgomery Clift , “Take 'em to Missouri, Matt!” And then there is Hawks' famous montage of weathered cowboy faces in closeup and exaltation, as they cry “Hee-yaw!” and wave their hats in the air.

The moment is as quintessentially Western as any ever filmed, capturing the exhilaration of being on a horse under the big sky with a job to do and a paycheck at the other end. And “Red River” is one of the greatest of all Westerns when it stays with its central story about an older man and a younger one, and the first cattle drive down the Chisholm Trail. It is only in its few scenes involving women that it goes wrong.

The film's hero and villain is Tom Dunson (Wayne), who heads West with a wagon train in 1851 and then peels off for Texas to start a cattle ranch. He takes along only his wagon driver, Groot Nadine ( Walter Brennan ). Dunson's sweetheart, Fen ( Coleen Gray ), wants to join them, but he rejects her almost absentmindedly, promising to send for her later. Later, from miles away, Tom and Groot see smoke rising: Indians have destroyed the wagon train. Groot, a grizzled codger, fulminates about how Indians “always want to be burning up good wagons,” and Tom observes that it would take them too long to go back and try to help. Their manner is surprisingly distant, considering that Dunson has just lost the woman he loved.

Soon after, the men encounter a boy who survived the Indian attack. This is Matt Garth, who is adopted by Dunson and brought up as the eventual heir to his ranch. Played as an adult by Montgomery Clift (his first screen role), Matt goes away to school, but returns in 1866 just as Dunson is preparing an epic drive to take 9,000 head of cattle north to Missouri.

I mentioned that Dunson is both hero and villain. It's a sign of the movie's complexity that John Wayne, often typecast, is given a tortured, conflicted character to play. He starts with “a boy with a cow and a man with a bull,” and builds up a great herd. But then he faces ruin; he must drive the cattle north or go bankrupt.

He's a stubborn man; all through the movie people tell him he's wrong, and usually they're right. They're especially right in wanting to take the cattle to Abilene, which is closer and reportedly has a railroad line, instead of on the longer trek to Missouri. As the cattle drive grows grueling, Dunson grows irascible, and finally whiskey and lack of sleep drive him a little mad; there are attempted mutinies before Matt finally rebels and takes the cattle to Abilene.

The critic Tim Dirks has pointed out the parallels between their conflict and the standoff between Capt. Bligh and Fletcher Christian in “Mutiny on the Bounty.” And indeed, the Borden Chase screenplay makes much of the older man's pride and the younger one's need to prove himself.

Also established, but never really developed, is a rivalry between young Matt and a tough cowboy named Cherry Valance ( John Ireland ), who signs up for the cattle drive and becomes Matt's rival. There's gonna be trouble between those two, old Groot predicts, but the film never delivers, leaving them stranded in the middle of a peculiar ambivalence that drew the attention of “The Celluloid Closet,” a documentary about hidden homosexuality in the movies. (“You know,” Cherry says, handling Matt's gun, “there are only two things more beautiful than a good gun: a Swiss watch or a woman from anywhere. You ever had a Swiss watch?”)

The shifting emotional attachments are tracked by a silver bracelet, which Dunson gives to Fen before leaving her. It later turns up on the wrist of an Indian he kills, and Dunson then gives it to Matt, who later gives it to Tess Millay (Joanne Dru), a woman he rescues and falls in love with. The three scenes with Tess are the movie's low points, in part because of her prattle (listen to how she chats distractingly with Matt during an Indian attack), in part because she is all too obviously the deus ex machina the plot needs to avoid an unhappy ending. The final scene is the weakest in the film, and Borden Chase reportedly hated it, with good reason: Two men act out a fierce psychological rivalry for two hours, only to cave in instantly to a female's glib tongue-lashing.

What we remember with “Red River” is not, however, the silly ending, but the setup and the majestic central portions. The tragic rivalry is so well established that somehow it keeps its weight and dignity in our memories, even though the ending undercuts it.

Just as memorable are the scenes of the cattle drive itself, as a handful of men control a herd so large it takes all night to ford a river. Russell Harlan's cinematography finds classical compositions in the drive, arrangements of men, sky and trees, and then in the famous stampede scene he shows a river of cattle flowing down a hill. It is an outdoor movie (we never go inside the ranch house Dunson must have built), and when young Matt steps inside the cattle buyer's office in Abilene, he ducks, observing how long it's been since he was under a roof.

Hawks is wonderful at setting moods. Notice the ominous atmosphere he brews on the night of the stampede--the silence, the restlessness of the cattle, the lowered voices. Notice Matt's nervousness during a night of thick fog, when every shadow may be Tom, come to kill him. And the tension earlier, when Dunson holds a kangaroo court.

And watch the subtle way Hawks modulates Tom Dunson's gradual collapse. John Wayne is tall and steady at the beginning of the picture, but by the end his hair is gray and lank, and his eyes are haunted; the transition is so gradual we might not even notice he wears a white hat at the outset but a black one at the end. Wayne is sometimes considered more of a natural force than an actor, but here his understated acting is right on the money; the critic Joseph McBride says John Ford , who had directed Wayne many times, saw “Red River” and told Hawks, “I never knew the big son of a bitch could act.”

Between Wayne and Clift there is a clear tension, not only between an older man and a younger one, but between an actor who started in 1929 and another who represented the leading edge of the Method. It's almost as if Wayne, who could go over a flamboyant actor, was trying to go under a quiet one: He meets the challenge, and matches it.

The theme of “Red River” is from classical tragedy: the need of the son to slay the father, literally or symbolically, in order to clear the way for his own ascendancy. And the father's desire to gain immortality through a child (the one moment with a woman that does work is when Dunson asks Tess to bear a son for him). The majesty of the cattle drive, and all of its expert details about “taking the point” and keeping the cowhands fed and happy, is atmosphere surrounding these themes.

Underlying everything else is an attitude that must have been invisible to the filmmakers at the time: the unstated assumption that it is the white man's right to take what he wants. Dunson shoots a Mexican who comes to tell him “Don Diego” owns the land. Told the land had been granted to Diego by the king of Spain, Dunson says, “You mean he took it away from whoever was here before--Indians, maybe. Well, I'm takin' it away from him.” In throwaway dialogue, we learn of seven more men Dunson has killed for his ranch, and there's a grimly humorous motif as he shoots people and then “reads over 'em” from the Bible.

Dunson is a law of his own, until Matt stops a hanging and ends his reign. If all Westerns are about the inevitable encroachment of civilization, this is one where it seems like a pretty good idea.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Red River movie poster

Red River (1948)

Rated NR no objectionable material

133 minutes

John Wayne as Tom Dunson

Noah Beery Jr. as Buster McGee

Coleen Gray as Fen

John Ireland as Cherry Valance

Montgomery Clift as Matt Garth

Walter Brennan as Nadine

Joanne Dru Groot as Tess Millay

Directed by

  • Howard Hawks

Screenplay by

  • Borden Chase
  • Charles Schnee

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Red River Reviews

movie review red river

Hawks and Chase invented or perfected most of the tropes of cattle drive tales with this classic film.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4 | Sep 17, 2023

movie review red river

The opposition of acting styles is electric: laconic elder statesman [John] Wayne wearing his character like buckskin, dominating the screen as upstart method actor [Montgomery] Clift’s intensity burns a star right next to him.

Full Review | Feb 4, 2023

movie review red river

“Red River” stakes its claim as a true classic of the Western genre.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Aug 24, 2022

movie review red river

For all the film's practicality and attention to detail, Red River is also an extraordinary story less concerned about propelling a standard Hollywood spectacle than its own interconnectedness with American identity.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4 | Feb 14, 2022

movie review red river

Long before the cattle reach the railroad, or Wayne and Clift face one another with guns in their hands, you've had your money's worth of entertainment.

Full Review | Jun 29, 2021

movie review red river

Although there's a touch of excitement at the start, the film seems to exist primarily as a history lesson rather than a piece of adventurous entertainment.

Full Review | Original Score: 7/10 | Aug 14, 2020

movie review red river

Red River contains everything a western should have and throws in a few things more.

Full Review | Jun 20, 2019

movie review red river

Red River, as a comment on frontier courage, loyalty, and leadership, is a romantic, simple-minded mush, but an ingeniously lyrical film nonetheless.

Full Review | Jun 14, 2019

movie review red river

It is a rattling good outdoor adventure movie.

Full Review | Feb 27, 2018

The best westerns always undercut their own myths, and few are more gorgeously conflicted than Red River.

Full Review | Aug 22, 2017

Wayne is an offbeat presence in River. His longish hair and loose gait - the latter usually indicating a relaxed sense of power - now imply a man out of his place, and a kind of restlessness.

Full Review | Original Score: 10/10 | Sep 20, 2014

Just when loyalty seems to be an entirely perverse and oppressive force in this world of might makes right, the film (shows) there are limits decent men won't cross.

Full Review | Original Score: 8/10 | Aug 3, 2014

movie review red river

inaugurated the second, more intriguing half of John Wayne's career, enabling him to be cast in roles that were more than just macho posturing and gruff heroism

Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4 | Jun 9, 2014

movie review red river

It was Hawks' genius to recognize a kinship between his leads, and to understand that the 'naturalism' of the Wayne persona was as deep and complex as the more intellectualized approach of the neurotic young New York stage actor, Clift.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4 | Jun 6, 2014

movie review red river

Hawks directs the film with his typical assurance and seeming lack of fuss, letting scenes play out in long takes, and framing the action against vistas that often dwarf the actors.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/5 | Jun 2, 2014

movie review red river

[VIDEO ESSAY] The homosexual subtext in Howard Hawkes's 1948 western is a widely overlooked, yet unmistakable element, to one of the most popular examples of the genre.

Full Review | Original Score: A | Jul 27, 2011

The staging of physical conflict is deadly, equalling anything yet seen on the screen.

Full Review | May 13, 2008

Howard Hawks stages the definitive cow opera with beautiful, lyrical, exciting sequences of stampeding, rough weather, cowboying and Indian skirmishes.

Full Review | Original Score: 5/5 | May 13, 2008

Of the may big names involved in the making of Red River, few made greater films.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Feb 11, 2008 Logo

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Red River

Where to watch

Directed by Howard Hawks

Big as the Men Who Faced This Challenge! Bold as the Women Who Loved Them!

Headstrong Thomas Dunson starts a thriving Texas cattle ranch with the help of his faithful trail hand, Groot, and his protégé, Matthew Garth, an orphan Dunson took under his wing when Matt was a boy. In need of money following the Civil War, Dunson and Matt lead a cattle drive to Missouri, where they will get a better price than locally, but the crotchety older man and his willful young partner begin to butt heads on the exhausting journey.

John Wayne Montgomery Clift Joanne Dru Walter Brennan Coleen Gray Harry Carey John Ireland Noah Beery Jr. Harry Carey, Jr. Chief Yowlachie Paul Fix Hank Worden Mickey Kuhn Ray Hyke Hal Taliaferro Shelley Winters Lane Chandler Davison Clark Harry Cording Richard Farnsworth Paul Fierro George Lloyd Pierce Lyden Frank Meredith John Merton Jack Montgomery Ivan Parry Lee Phelps John Rice Show All… William Self Carl Sepulveda Ray Spiker Glenn Strange Tom Tyler Dan White Guy Wilkerson

Director Director

Howard Hawks

Co-Director Co-Director

Arthur Rosson

Producers Producers

Howard Hawks Walter Mayo Norman A. Cook

Writers Writers

Charles Schnee Borden Chase

Story Story

Borden Chase

Casting Casting

Dave Gunreth

Editors Editors

Christian Nyby Francis D. Lyon Jack Murray

Cinematography Cinematography

Russell Harlan

Assistant Directors Asst. Directors

Joseph C. Cavalier Joe Wonder William McGarry

Additional Directing Add. Directing

Arthur Siteman Arthur Rosson

Executive Producer Exec. Producer

Charles K. Feldman

Lighting Lighting

Cleo Crabtree Roy Black

Camera Operators Camera Operators

George T. Clemens John D. Weiler

Additional Photography Add. Photography

Ray Binger Earl Stafford Robert Rhea Bert Eason

Art Direction Art Direction

Set decoration set decoration.

John F. Austin

Special Effects Special Effects

Allen Q. Thompson Donald Steward Thol Simonson

Stunts Stunts

Richard Farnsworth Riley R. Waters Carol Henry Sid Davis Cliff Lyons Danny Sands Chuck Roberson Jack Williams

Composer Composer

Dimitri Tiomkin

Sound Sound

Kenneth C. Wesson Frank Webster Richard DeWeese

Makeup Makeup

Web Overlander Lee Greenway Don L. Cash Frank La Rue

Hairstyling Hairstyling

Margaret Martin Dotha Hippe Anna Malin Mary Freeman

United Artists Monterey Productions Charles K. Feldman Group

Releases by Date

Theatrical limited, 26 aug 1948, 17 sep 1948, 01 jan 1949, 06 jul 1949, 07 feb 1950, 09 feb 1951, 25 sep 1952, 08 jul 2003, 26 nov 2008, releases by country.

  • Physical G
  • Theatrical e 12
  • Theatrical U
  • Theatrical 12


  • Physical DVD

South Korea

  • Theatrical limited NR
  • Theatrical NR

133 mins   More at IMDb TMDb Report this page

Popular reviews

Patrick Willems

Review by Patrick Willems ★★★★ 4

There are like 500 cattle moving through every shot in this movie and I got so stressed out imagining what it must have been like to shoot. "Oops, John Wayne flubbed a line, move all the cattle back a mile and we'll try it again."


Review by kailey ★★★★ 20

i discuss the ending in vague terms in the fifth paragraph

ladies, i may be jumping ship from al pacino and pledging allegiance to montgomery clift. stay tuned.

i think the appeal of the western is the vastness of it all. you can sit in a crowded movie theater or while cooped up in your house (ahem) and pretend that there's a never-ending sky above you. your problems are secondary to the grandeur of the mountains and the beauty of the landscape. you don't have to worry about taxes, a 9 to 5, drudging your way up the corporate ladder. you can just saddle your horse and ride off into the sunset.

life in the real wild west was harsh…

Jake Cole

Review by Jake Cole ★★★★★

Hawks made perhaps the greatest Western of all time a decade later, but damned if this doesn't make an equally strong argument for placement at least among the genre's pantheon. Old West and new order pitted as classic stardom vs. young method acting. Vision of capitalism as murderous tyranny, capable of being bested only by a Hawksian community of men. When both fail, it's up to a woman to set them straight, natch.

Filipe Furtado

Review by Filipe Furtado ★★★★★

"There's three times in a man's life when he has a right to yell at the moon: when he marries, when his children come, and when he finishes a job he had to be crazy to start."

To make a 1000-mile cattle drive or to make a film about it is, at the end of the day, very much the same thing. The work of a madman about madmen. It has a sweep that stands among Hawks films, and it is worth noticing the way it manages to have a lot of drive while ranking among Hawks loose episodic movies and how space moves through it from the opening sky to the increasing intensity to the near horror movie background…

matt lynch

Review by matt lynch ★★★★½ 1

"Ever had a good Swiss watch?"


Review by HKFanatic ★★★★★ 2

I can only imagine what it must have been like to walk into a theater in 1948 and experience the debut of a new kind of actor in Montgomery Clift. Sure, there's something of the doomed male beauty and Method quality of James Dean in him, but here, in his first role, Clift conveys a reticence about the whole idea of appearing on celluloid—when John Wayne growls "You're soft," I don't think he's acting. The two men, as well as Dimitri Tiomkin's score, convince you "Red River" isn't a story about a cattle drive but about America, and the clashing of two very different masculine codes.


Review by comrade_yui ★★★★★ 3

howard hawks' ironic post-nietzschean epic, a battle of master morality vs. slave morality across the plains of the american west, men of irrational-yet-deeply felt convictions brought to their senses by the absurdity of their own egos. 'the love impulse manifests itself in conflict'; maybe the most homoerotic hawks film, everyone's measuring their 'guns' against each other. a fujoshi's favorite.

Mike Thorn

Review by Mike Thorn ★★★★★

The "rugged individual" myth unfurling through a youthful John Wayne, who grays and scars and crumbles before our eyes. The first act's wide, bright pastorals darken into nighttime scenes of conflict, all that openness crushed by images of exploited animals running for escape, of mad and hungry men chasing their self-interest to the death.

Mike D'Angelo

Review by Mike D'Angelo ★★★★½ 1

A.V. Club review . Still of two minds about the ending, which feels false (and which I now know is false, in the sense that it departs from Chase's serialized story) but is also, well, Hawksian in a way that I find intensely moving, contrivance be damned.


Review by WraithApe ★★★★ 5

"Funny what the night does to a man. They're all right during the day." "During the day they can see."

Darkness is blindness; the further Thomas Dunson leads his men into privation on the trail of an increasingly remote promised land, the more blinkered and despotic he becomes. The air is thick with mutiny. It's left to the younger man, Matt Garth, finally, to make a stand against the tyranny of stubborn old age.

Having broken with the wagon train and settled a patch of land some 14 years earlier - taking the land by force - Dunson has realized the American Dream. Starting with only a steer and a cow, he raises the biggest heard in all of Texas.…


Review by shookone

the mise en scene / is mise en cattle john wayne constantly riding / rarely going to battle horses looking at the mise en beef / audience anticipate a mise en steak american mythmaking goes steep / colonialism is no piece of cake

𝙿𝚊𝚘𝚕𝚘 𝙼𝚊𝚌𝙶𝚞𝚏𝚏𝚒𝚗 | 🇮🇹

Review by 𝙿𝚊𝚘𝚕𝚘 𝙼𝚊𝚌𝙶𝚞𝚏𝚏𝚒𝚗 | 🇮🇹 ★★★★½ 4

In Red River Howard Hawks combines The Mutiny on the Bounty with the myth of Oedipus and obtains a much darker view of the conquest of the West. This story of the first move of a herd from Texas to Abilene, rather than in the tones of an epic, prefers to emphasize the generational conflict between Tom Dunson, an old and despotic breeder, and his adopted son Matthew Garth, played respectively by John Wayne , in one of the most complex and layered roles of his long career, and by a young - but already great - Montgomery Clift . Hawks takes the image of Wayne developed during World War II, when the star played war hero roles in films produced by…

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Movie Review

US Release Date: 09-17-1948

Directed by: Howard Hawks

Starring ▸ ▾

  • John Wayne ,  as
  • Thomas Dunson
  • Montgomery Clift ,  as
  • Joanne Dru ,  as
  • Tess Millay
  • Walter Brennan ,  as
  • Nadine Groot
  • Coleen Gray ,  as
  • Harry Carey ,  as
  • Mr. Melville
  • John Ireland ,  as
  • Cherry Valance
  • Noah Beery Jr. ,  as
  • Buster McGee
  • Harry Carey Jr. ,  as
  • Dan Latimer
  • Mickey Kuhn ,  as
  • Matt - as a Boy
  • Chief Yowlachie ,  as
  • Paul Fix ,  as
  • Teeler Yacey
  • Hank Worden as
  • Simms Reeves

John Wayne and Montgomery Clift in Red River

AFI has Red River at number 5 on their list of top 100 best westerns.   It is based on Borden Chase's Saturday Evening Post story "The Chisholm Trail" which he helped adapt to a screenplay.  It is not always as fast paced as I would like, but it does feature John Wayne in a unique role.

The film starts with Wayne leaving a wagon train to go off with an old friend and claim his land and start a ranch.  No sooner does he go his own way, when Indians attack the wagon train and kill everyone but a boy, Matt, and his cow.  He joins with Wayne and the old coot who raise him as a son.  The three run the ranch together.

Some 14 years later, Matt is all grown up and the ranch is full of steers. The gist of the plot being a huge cattle drive through dangerous territory.  This includes crossing the red river, dealing with a stampede and some angry Indians.  Most importantly is the relationship between Wayne and Clift.  It has been described as akin to Fletcher Christian and Captain Bligh.  Wayne shows in a dramatic scene that he could actually act.

What makes this role unique for Wayne is that his character is not the most honorable.  He is not above taking a few of his neighbor's cows who happen into his herd.  As the movie opens he is saying goodbye to a girl he clearly has had sex with.  The clue is when he says to her, "Last night I made a decision."   Most important is that he likes being in charge and does not take shit from others, even when he is wrong.

This was Clift's first film role, but not his first release.  It sat on a shelf for a couple of years for legal reasons.  Clift was a homosexual and John Ireland was reportedly well endowed.  They share one scene that is the gayest to be found this side of Brokeback Mt .  Ireland rides up.  He and Clift smile at each other while they look each other in the eye.  Then they play a game of you show me yours and I will show you mine.  They hold each other's guns in their hands waist high, handling them with gentle care and admiration.

Another interesting cast member is Mickey Kuhn.  This kid worked on several classic films.  He was quoted years later as saying, "I remember John Wayne telling me, 'Never apologize, never say you're sorry, but never forget to say thank you.'"

As with these old black and white westerns, it drags a bit in places but has much to offer.  The scene where Clift mutinies Wayne's authority is a dramatic highlight.  The best action scene is when Clift helps to defend a wagon train from an Indian attack and a girl gets an arrow in her shoulder.  The best scene is the film's most famous, when Wayne catches up to Clift and beats the snot out of him at the end. 

John Ireland and Montgomery Clift compare revolvers in Red River .

Thomas Dunson is, along with Ethan Edwards from The Searchers , one of John Wayne's least sympathetic characters. He is not only a selfish, domineering, son of a bitch, he is also a thief and a murderer. At the beginning of the movie he bids a temporary farewell to his girlfriend, who he plans on sending for once he's settled (he isn't merely running out on her as my brother made it sound). He gives her his mother's bracelet, which plays an important role throughout the movie. However, he shows his true colors when he squats on land already legally owned by a rich Mexican. He shoots a man in cold blood for this land and kills another half dozen defending it over the years.

Dunson's meeting with the young Matt Garth and the ensuing 14 years are summed up in a written passage across the screen (the original version with Walter Brennan narrating the story is no longer available) that says, “And that was the meeting of a boy with a cow and a man with a bull and the beginning of a great herd.”  Due to financial hardships caused by the Civil War, Dunson is broke when the story proper begins, hence the idea of a great cattle drive.

Red River is famous for two scenes in particular. Eric mentioned both of them. The first is the meeting between John Ireland's Cherry Valance (a name that was recycled for a female character in The Outsiders ) and Montgomery Clift's Matt Garth. It is filled with gay sexual innuendo. The two men examine each others' guns with admiration (see photo), but it is the dialogue that really sends it over the top. Here's what Cherry says to Matt by way of introduction, “That's a good-looking gun you were about to use back there. Can I see it? And you'd like to see mine. Nice, awful nice. You know there are only two things more beautiful than a good gun. A Swiss watch or a woman from anywhere. You ever have a good Swiss watch?” They then proceed to have a shooting contest.

The other iconic scene is the climactic fist-fight between Wayne and Clift. And although Dunson gets the better of Garth at the beginning of the fight, Garth does eventually fight back and land a few good punches as well. It is believable that the skinny Clift can trade punches with the much larger Wayne only because Dunson is shot in the side (by Cherry coming to Garth's defense) before the fight begins. Unfortunately this leads to the horrible ending where, completely out of character, Dunson sees the error of his ways and abruptly makes nice with his adopted son, the man he has sworn to kill. It is an unrealistic happy Hollywood ending. In the original story Cherry shoots Dunson dead and Matt takes his body back to his ranch to be buried. That ending makes more sense.

Monty Clift was a great actor. He brings a sensitivity to the role of Matt Garth that was rare for a western. Wayne gives one of his best performances as well. He wasn't afraid to play unlikable characters. Walter Brennan plays his usual cantankerous old codger with a heart of gold. This movie has the distinction of being the only time Harry Carey and his son Harry Carey Jr. appeared together. This was Harry Carey's last movie before his death and his son replaced him as a regular in John Wayne's pictures from then on.

This was John Wayne's first collaboration with Howard Hawks. They would make a total of 5 movies together. In fact Hawks' last movie was 1970's Rio Lobo , starring John Wayne. Hawks could direct any genre of film. He was as adept at screwball comedies as he was action movies. Red River suffers from some obvious shots of the stars on fake horses in front of rear projection in some of the action scenes and the cattle drive looks suspiciously like it takes place in the same valley, only shot from different angles. But there is no denying that Hawks got great performances from his two male leads.

Red River was a huge hit. It was the third highest grossing movie of 1948. Only Road to Rio and Easter Parade earned more at the domestic box office. It remains a classic western and one of John Wayne's best movies.

John Wayne and Montgomery Clift in Red River .

Patrick already described the ending so I'll be discussing it here as well. Rarely have I ever been so disappointed by the resolution to a movie. It's the worst kind of happy ending to come out of a town famous for bad happy endings. Patrick mentioned how it was changed from the original story, which isn't necessarily a horrible thing, but if they wanted to change the ending then they should have changed more of what came before it. For 9/10ths of the movie it builds to a dark and violent ending of the kind that you normally never see in a John Wayne movie when suddenly, at the very last minute, it does a 180 degree turn right back into happily ever after land.

This is definitely one of the Duke's finest performances. According to Hollywood legend, frequent Wayne collaborator John Ford remarked after seeing the film that, "I never knew the big son of a bitch could act". Wayne himself listed it as one of his favorite films and even had a belt buckle made in the shape of the Red River brand, which he often wore in later movies. As Eric wrote, he walks the line between villain and hero for most of the story and you realize just how effective a bad guy John Wayne could play. We're used to seeing him dominate the screen as the unstoppable hero, but when he's trailing the cattle drive looking for revenge, it's easy to see why everyone is worried and scared. He's like the cowboy equivalent of the Terminator.

Clift was famous for employing method acting while Wayne basically played the same character in every film. On paper this combination seems like a surefire recipe for disaster, but their scenes together are the best in the film. Perhaps working with Clift helped raise Wayne's acting game. There's certainly a dynamic spark between the two of the them. Reportedly, Clift too was disappointed with the ending, calling it "ludicrous. He also called his own performance mediocre, but realized it was a star-making role. 10 years after this film was released, Clift would turn down the part of Dude in the Howard Hawks' directed Rio Bravo , which would have reunited him with Wayne and Brennan.

Like Eric, I found the pacing a touch slow in places and at 2 and a quarter hours there's definitely room for trimming. There's a few too many scenes of the cattle drive for my taste and while the vistas are beautiful and the cinematography quite well done, they don't do much to aid the plot.

Despite these few minor issues, and the disappointing ending, it's easy to see why this movie was ranked so high by the AFI. Thanks to Wayne and Clift, this is a must-see for any film buff.

Photos © Copyright United Artists (1948)

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Red River Review

09 Aug 2009

127 minutes

A Western remake of Mutiny On The Bounty, this is a considerably deeper film than its source. Grizzled cattle baron Tom Dunson becomes a tyrant as he tries to lead a cattle drive up into Missouri, prompting his sensitive adopted son Matthew Garth (Montgomery Clift) to rebel and steer the herd West by a safer route to Abilene.

Though Dunson admires his guts, he nevertheless swears to track him and shoot him dead, leading to one of the most emotional climaxes in the genre as the two men face off among milling cattle in the Abilene streets.

Howard Hawks stages the definitive cow opera with beautiful, lyrical, exciting sequences of stampeding, rough weather, cowboying and Indian skirmishes. The leads are at their very best, with sterling support from Walter Brennan as the toothless coot, John Ireland as a lanky gunslinger and Joanne Dru as a gal who can take an arrow in the shoulder without hardly flinching.

  • Blu-ray/DVD edition reviewed by Chris Galloway
  • May 25 2014

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No matter what genre he worked in, Howard Hawks played by his own rules, and never was this more evident than in his first western, the rowdy and whip-smart Red River . In it, John Wayne found one of his greatest roles, as an embittered, tyrannical Texas rancher whose tensions with his independent-minded adopted son—played by Montgomery Clift in a breakout performance—reach epic proportions during a cattle drive to Missouri. The film is based on a novel that dramatizes the real-life late nineteenth-century expeditions along the Chisholm Trail, but Hawks is less interested in historical accuracy than in tweaking the codes of masculinity that propel the myths of the American West. The unerringly macho Wayne and the neurotic, boyish Clift make for an improbably perfect pair, held aloft by a quick-witted, multilayered screenplay and Hawks’s formidable direction.

Picture 8/10

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Extras 8/10

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Cast & crew, howard hawks, montgomery clift, walter brennan, coleen gray, photos & videos, technical specs.

movie review red river

In 1851, Thomas Dunson and his friend, Groot Nadine, leave St. Louis and join a wagon train headed for California. When they reach the northern border of Texas, they decide to remain there and establish a cattle ranch. Fen, Tom's sweetheart, wants to stay with him, but he tells her that he will send for her later and gives her his mother's bracelet. Soon after Tom and Groot take their wagon and bull and head south to the Red River, they look back and see that the wagon train has been attacked and burned by Comanche Indians. That night, several Indians attack Tom and Groot's camp, and Tom is horrified to discover the bracelet he gave to Fen on the wrist of an Indian he killed in the struggle. The next day as Tom and Groot break camp, a young boy, Matthew Garth, who has escaped the wagon train massacre, wanders toward them with his cow. Tom and Groot take the dazed boy with them, cross the Red River and head farther south until, near the Rio Grande, Tom finds an area he likes. The land legally belongs, by land grant, to a Mexican, but after Tom kills one of the owner's gunmen and drives off another, he claims it for himself. Tom's bull and Matt's cow then become the beginning of a great herd sporting the Red River-D brand. Fifteen years later, the ranch boasts thousands of cattle, but Tom faces ruin unless he can move them from the impoverished, post-Civil War market. He decides to take ten thousand head a thousand miles to Missouri, where the railroads serve the North and East, and Matt, now grown to manhood and like a son to Tom, helps to plan the drive. Tom also agrees to take several head belonging to a neighboring rancher, and one of the neighbor's ranch hands, Cherry Valance, joins the drive. Both Cherry and Matt are expert gunmen and enjoy a friendly, if intense, rivalry. After a few days on the trail, the men reach the Brazos. Hills and rocks impede their progress and the cowboys become tired and unhappy. One night, when the cattle are restless, cowboy Bunk Kenneally, takes some sugar from Groot's chuckwagon and accidentally knocks over pots and pans, spooking the cattle and causing a stampede. Cowboy Dan Latimer is killed in the stampede, and although Bunk admits his mistake, he refuses to allow Tom to whip him and draws his gun. However, Matt shoots Bunk before he can shoot Tom. Forty days into the drive, the men are forced to endure heavy rains and short rations, as a grub wagon was lost in the stampede. Tom becomes very demanding and faces dissension among the cowboys. Some days later, a wounded wrangler from another drive rides into camp and explains that his group was attacked by a large gang of outlaws after they crossed the Red River. He also tells them about a trail blazed by an Indian trader, Jesse Chisholm, to a railroad terminus in Abilene, Kansas. When three of Tom's men state that they should be heading to Abilene instead of Missouri and threaten to quit, Tom kills them. More men desert with supplies and Tom sends Cherry after them. When the herd reaches the Red River, Tom decides to cross immediately despite the men's exhaustion. That night, Groot suggests to Tom, who has not been sleeping and has started drinking, that he tell the men that they did well, but he refuses. The next day, when Cherry returns with two of the deserters, Tom says he is going to hang them but Matt intervenes. As Tom goes to draw his gun on Matt, Cherry shoots him in the hand. Matt then assumes command of the drive, and they head to Abilene, leaving Tom behind. Tom swears that one day he will catch up with Matt and kill him. On the drive, Matt and the others encounter a wagon train being attacked by Apache Indians whom they help to drive off. Matt meets Tess Millay, one of the wagon train's settlers, and before he resumes the drive, they have fallen in love. Tom and some new men he has hired to pursue the train catch up with it, and when Tess tells Tom that she had wanted to go with Matt, Tom remembers leaving Fen. Tess then tries to persuade Tom not to kill his "son," and Tom offers her half of everything he owns if she will bear him a son. Tess agrees on condition he abandons his mission to kill Matt, but Tom declines. On 14 Aug 1865, Matt's team reaches Abilene and becomes the first cattle drive to cross over the Chisholm Trail. They receive a great welcome from the townspeople, and Melville, a representative of an Illinois trading company, makes Matt a very good offer for the herd and gives him a check payable to Tom. That night, Matt finds Tess waiting for him at his hotel. She warns him that Tom will be coming into town just after dawn to kill him. The next day, as Matt prepares to face Tom, Cherry challenges Tom, who shoots him but is injured by his return fire. Matt refuses to draw his gun against Tom, but when Tom attacks him with his fists, Matt fights back. Their brawl is interrupted by Tess, who fires a gun and angrily reminds them that they both love each other. After Tom tells Matt that he should marry Tess, he and Matt are finally reconciled. Tom then tells Matt that, as he had promised years before, he will create a new branding iron to include Matt's name, as he has earned it.

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Chief yowlachie.

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Mickey kuhn, hal taliaferro, paul fierro, lane chandler.

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John Datu Arensma

Borden chase, norman cook, richard deweese, charles k. feldman, lee greenway, russell harlan, william mcgarry, christian nyby, arthur rosson, charles schnee, bobbie sierks, donald steward, allan thompson, thomas thompson, dimitri tiomkin, vinton vernon, riley r. waters, photo collections.

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Best editing, best writing, screenplay, red river - the essentials.

Red River - The Essentials

Pop Culture 101: RED RIVER

Trivia & fun facts about red river, trivia & fun facts about red river, the big idea, behind the camera, the critics corner: red river, red river on criterion blu-ray and dvd.

What do they call you? - Matt Garth
Some call me one thing and others another. - Cherry Valance
What do they call you the most? - Matt Garth
My name. - Cherry Valance
Don't like to see strangers comimg. Maybe it's because no stranger ever good newsed me. - Nadine Groot
There are only two things that are better than a gun: a Swiss watch and a woman from anywhere. Ever had a good... Swiss watch? - Cherry
Plantin' and readin', plantin' and readin'. Fill a man full o' lead, stick him in the ground an' then read words on him. Why, when you've killed a man, why try to read the Lord in as a partner on the job? - Sims Reeves
Well, I don't like to see things goin' good or bad. I like 'em in between. - Sims Reeves

Filmed in 1946 but held for release for two years, in part due to legal problems with Howard Hughes (I), who claimed it was similar to his Outlaw, The (1943).

Texas Longhorn cattle had been nearly extinct as a breed for about 50 years when this film was made. Only a few dozen animals were available. In the herd scenes most of the cattle are Hereford crosses with the precious Longhorns prominently placed in crucial scenes.

This film was selected to the National Film Registry, Library of Congress, in 1990.

The theme song, "Settle Down" was later used under the title "My RIfle, My Pony and Me" in Rio Bravo (1959), another John Wayne western.

There was some concern that 'John Wayne' and Montgomery Clift would not get along since they were diametrically opposed on most political issues, and both were outspoken on their views. According to legend they agreed not to discuss politics and the shooting went smoothly.

The summary was based on a viewing of a modern "Restored Director's Cut" of the film. In a letter contained in the AMPAS Library file on the film, the attorney for Monterey Productions stated that the company bought the original story from Borden Chase, and after certain changes had been made, the story was published in The Saturday Evening Post . Exterior photography was done around Elgin, AZ, south of Tucson, and interiors were filmed on the Samuel Goldwyn lot. Red River was the first film Montgomery Clift made, although his second, The Search (see below), was released first. According to a interview with Howard Hawks in a modern source, Joanne Dru was a last-minute substitute for Margaret Sheridan, who had to be replaced when she was discovered to be pregnant. A February 1, 1948 New York Times news item noted that the film's original budget was $1,800,000 and that an organization of private capitalists known as Motion Picture Investors provided a bond guaranteeing the film's completion at an eventual cost of $2,700,000. In December 1948, Daily Variety reported that the film's final cost was $4,100,000 and that the domestic gross was "being figured all the way from $4,000,000 to $5,500,000," with an additional $2,000,000 in foreign revenues.        Immediately prior to the film's premiere on August 26, 1948 in theaters in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, millionaire producer Howard Hughes filed an injunction against the film's openings in Texas, contending that the climactic gunfight sequence between "Tom" and "Matt" paralleled that in Hughes's The Outlaw , a production on which Hawks had briefly worked in 1940. To placate Hughes, Hawks cut approximately 28 seconds from the scene. A Daily Variety news item reported that Consolidated and Pathé laboratories worked through the weekend prior to the film's premiere to produce prints of the revised sequence and that editor Mel Thorsen was sent to film exchanges in Dallas, Kansas City and New York to supervise the changes. For more information on the controversy, see entry above for The Outlaw .        The "Director's Cut" of Red River , which was issued in 1987, is approximately seven minutes longer than the original release print and reinstates the footage excised due to the Hughes injunction. The 1948 version includes a spoken narration by Walter Brennan's "Groot Nadine" character, whereas the later version eliminates the narration and uses handwritten text from the Early Tales of Texas "diary." Other minor differences include additional shots before the stampede and the saving of the wagon train sequences, as well as a brief conversation between "Matt" and "Melville" as the cattle enter Abilene.        Modern sources add Pierce Lyden, Lee Phelps, George Lloyd, John Merton and Richard Farnsworth to the cast. A radio adaptation of the film, starring Wayne and Dru, was broadcast on Lux Radio Theatre on March 7, 1949. Red River received Oscar nominations in the Motion Picture Story and Film Editing categories. On April 10, 1988, the CBS network broadcast a remake of Chase's story, starring James Arness and Bruce Boxleitner, and directed by Richard Michaels.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall September 17, 1948

Released in United States March 1976

Released in United States May 1989

Shown at Film Forum in New York City (original length) May 27 & 28, 1989.

Released in USA on video.

Selected in 1990 for inclusion in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry.

Shot in 1947.

Released in United States March 1976 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The 48-Hour Cowboy Movie Marathon) March 18-31, 1976.)

Released in United States May 1989 (Shown at Film Forum in New York City (original length) May 27 & 28, 1989.)

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Red River: The Criterion Collection (1948) - Blu-ray Review

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Red river - Blu-ray Review


5 stars

Directed and produced by Howard Hawks, Red River is proof that, if pushed by the demands of a well-written script, John Wayne could actually act.  I am not a Wayne fan by any means but my father raised me on a steady diet of Sunday westerns and I’ve seen more than enough of Wayne to last two lifetimes.  Throughout the years, two of Wayne’s films have stuck out as classics of the genre.  The first is The Searchers and the second, Red River , gets the Criterion Collection treatment this month in a deluxe re-release that includes the book it was inspired by. 

Red River is, hands down, one of the ten greatest westerns ever made and Criterion celebrates that fact with an impeccable handling of the film.  This is an epic film that saddles viewers alongside one of the greatest cattle drives – the Chisholm Trail – in our American history.  The film is almost biblical in its handling of themes as a young Tom Dunson (John Wayne) and his traveling companion Groot Nadine (Walter Brennan) break away from their group to head South toward cattle-friendly Texas to start his own cattle herd with a bull and a couple of cows. 

They meet up with a young boy named Matt (Micky Kuhn), who has survived a Comanche attack and is somewhat dazed.  He is taken under Tom’s wing and reared to learn the business and Tom’s way as the whole group of men dream of a cattle dynasty.  Tom buries the fact that he left the woman who loved him behind and doesn’t want to deal with the fact that she probably died in the attack that spared Matt; he hardens and devotes his life to his business.

Many years later, the beef industry in Texas is barren and Tom – upon a grown up Matt’s return to the ranch (now played by Montgomery Clift in his first film appearance) – decides to take his herd to Abilene, Kansas where profit awaits.  They disagree on the route and that’s when Matt notices the change in his foster father.  Somewhere between the years of struggle and sacrifice while carving his empire between 1851 and the end of the Civil War, Tom has gone astray.

It’s this change that drives the film and places a wedge between the two men; one nearing the end of his and the other in his prime.  Hawks filmed on location in Arizona and parts of Mexico and scored some many great shots along the way.  The shoot was tough and so is the look of the film as sunsets fill the screen and gigantic clouds swirl over the faces of hills and mountains.  Nothing about the film is weak.  Danger is, quite literally, at every turn as allegiances are tested and mutiny is performed all for the sake of one man’s sanity and another man’s soul.

Wayne goes from hero in the beginning to a ruthless hellfire-obsessed dictator and the recovery of his soul is at the very central of Red River.  Wayne turns believably ugly and you almost don’t notice the change in character until it is too late; you are either on his side or you are his enemy.  And he becomes increasingly hard to defend as the exodus develops.  This was his first film (of five) for Hawks and, in my opinion, it his best performance for the director.  Hawks toned down Clift’s own method acting a bit but Clift does turn out a solid performance that assists Wayne in harnessing his own.  These are two strong-willed men who respect each other but their conflicts with each other come to a head during this odyssey. 

While the book had a more fierce (and better) ending, Red River – proving to be Hawks’ most ambitious film in cost and production – does deliver an interesting finale in which Tess (Joanne Dru) stops the two men from killing each other.  This is a complex western and was pretty much undervalued upon its release.  Criterion attempts to undue that wrong with this excellent blu-ray release.

Watch director Howard Hawks play by his own rules and dare to cross the Red River .

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Red river - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: This title has not been rated by the MPAA Runtime: 133 mins Director : Howard Hawks, Arthur Rosson Cast: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Joanne Dru Genre : Action | Adventure | Western Tagline: In 25 Years, Only Three! "The Covered Wagon", "Cimarron" and now Howard Hawks' "Red River" Memorable Movie Quote: "Well, I don't like to see things goin' good or bad. I like 'em in between." Distributor: United Artists Official Site: Release Date: September 17, 1948 DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: May 27, 2014 Synopsis : Dunson is driving his cattle to Red River when his adopted son, Matthew, turns against him.

[tab title="Blu-ray Review"]

Red river - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - May 27, 2014 Screen Formats: 1.37:1 Subtitles : English SDH Audio: English: LPCM Mono; English: LPCM Mono Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Four-disc set (2 BDs, 2 DVDs); DVD copy Region Encoding: Locked to region A

The following text appears inside the booklet provided with this Blu-ray release:

 "Because of the film's complicated postproduction schedule and logistics -- as partially detailed on page 16, in the interview with editor Christian Nyby -- film elements for the director's preferred version of the film, the final 127-minute theatrical release from 1948, proved rarer than those for the now more common 133-minute prerelease version, a cut of the film assembled sometime before its official premiere. This new digital transfer of the prerelease version of Red River was created in 2K resolution on a Scanity film scanner from a 35mm duplicate negative. To reconstruct the theatrical cut, we used a 35mm print from MGM's archives as a visual reference; this was not viable as a master source, however, because of film frame damage. With that print as a guide, we assembled the majority of the theatrical version from the 2K scans made for the prerelease cut. There are a number of sections in the theatrical version, though, that do not exist in the prerelease one, such as the different optical sequences that accompany the voice-over narration. After much searching, a French 35mm composite print was located at Cinematheque francaise. Digital transfers of remaining sections of the theatrical version were created in 2K resolution on a Scanity film scanner from the preserved print. Thousands of instances of debris, splices, and warps were manually removed using MTI's DRS, while Digital Vision's Phoenix was used for small flicker, scratches, and grain management and Pixel Farm's PFClean for jitter. Because of the difficulty of acquiring complete source material for the opening and closing credits of the theatrical version, which differ from those of the prerelease one, we used a standard-definition PAL DigiBeta provided by MGM for those two segments. The original film used for that transfer could not be located.

Assembling the soundtrack for the theatrical version presented similar problems. For the prerelease version, the original monaural soundtrack was remastered at 24-bit from a 35mm optical soundtrack. This was then used as the primary source for the reconstruction of the theatrical soundtrack. While the two versions diverged -- for example, in the theatrical version's inclusion of voice-over and somewhat different music my Dimitri Tiomkin -- an alternate 35mm optical element was used. Whenever possible, minute audio dropouts in the theatrical soundtrack were corrected through careful mixing with isolated prerelease sections. Clicks, thumps, hiss, and hum were manually removed using Pro Tools HD. Crackle was attenuated using AudioCube's integrated workstation.

Transfer supervisors: Lee Kline, Russell Smith.

Colorist: Lee Kline.

Theatrical version reconstruction: Gabriel Chavez.

Scanning: Colorworks, Culver City, CA.

Scanning and film preparation: Alex Hernandez/Colorworks, Culver City, CA.


Commentary :

Special Features:

On disc one, the "Original Theatrical" version we get a new 17-minute interview with filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich about Red River and the two versions. He also shares his memories of Hawks. There is also an audio excerpt from a 1972 conversation between Hawks and Bogdanovich as they sat together in Palm Springs. This disc also has a trailer.

On the "Pre-Release" Blu-ray we have a new (2014), 16-minute, interview with critic Molly Haskell. The long-time champion of Howard Hawks discusses Red River in relation to the western genre and gender politics and expresses her appreciation for the filmmaker. There is also a new 13-minute interview with film scholar Lee Clark Mitchell delving into the cultural history and trademarks of the western genre literature and film.

There are 10-minutes of audio excerpts from a 1970 interview with novelist and screenwriter Borden Chase and an hour-long Lux Radio Theatre adaptation of Red River from 1949, featuring John Wayne, Joanne Dru, and Walter Brennan. The package contains the two DVDs with all the contents of the Blu-rays and a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoffrey O’Brien and a 1991 interview with Hawks’ longtime editor Christian Nyby plus a new paperback edition of Chase’s original novel, previously out of print.

  • Bogdanovich on Red River (17 min)
  • Hawks and Bogdanovich (16 min)
  • Lux Radio Theatre (59 min)
  • Molly Haskell (16 min)
  • Lee Clark Mitchell (14 min)
  • Borden Chase (11 min)

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9 places to nosh on bagels in southern Maine

From old-school spots to foodie favorites, there's a 'hole' lot to try.

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Bread and bagels at The Works Cafe in downtown Portland. Photo by Aimsel Ponti

From New York-style boiled bagels to Montreal-inspired wood-fired ones, there’s lots of great bagels in southern Maine and several shops have the accolades to back that up.

In 2023, Bon Appetit named bagels from Rose Foods and Rover Bagel among the best in the country.

Two years before that,  Food & Wine Magazine put Rover, Forage and Scratch Baking Co. on its list of best bagels in the U.S.

Whether you like yours toasted with cream cheese or as the bread for your breakfast sandwich, you can find plenty of styles and flavors from Biddeford to Brunswick.


The offerings at Beach Bagels include a French toast and marble bagel, and the cream cheese menu comprises spreads like strawberry, olive and honey walnut. Along with breakfast sandwiches, Beach Bagels has hearty breakfast options like omelets and pancakes. Best of all, you’re steps away from a beach stroll. Just don’t let the seagulls steal your bagel. Advertisement

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily WHERE: 34 Old Orchard St., Old Orchard Beach. ______________

Dutchman’s opened in 2022 as a pop-up housed at Nomad pizza in Brunswick’s Fort Andross building. It’s since become a permanent fixture there and uses the pizzeria’s wood-fired ovens to bake its bagels. The hand-shaped, honey-boiled bagels come in plain, roasted garlic, poppy and a bagel-of-the-day flavor.

WHEN: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday to Sunday WHERE: Fort Andross, 14 Maine St., Brunswick. ______________


Making bagels at Forage Market involves a two-day aging process. The bagels are naturally leavened with wild yeast starter and baked next to a hardwood fire. There are usually five flavors available, including sesame and garlic. Breakfast sandwiches (including vegan options) are available. Forage also has a location in Lewiston. Advertisement

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday WHERE: 123 Washington Ave., Portland. _____________


There are 10 or so Mister Bagel locations in Maine, including South Portland and Falmouth. It all began with the Portland location, which was the first bagel shop to open in Maine. The late Rick Hartglass started Mister Bagel in 1977, and it is still a family business. Music fans will appreciate the breakfast sandwich menu, which includes The David Bowie (bacon, egg and American cheese), the Jimmy Buffett (egg with roast beef and cheddar) and The Lady Gaga (avocado, salt and pepper, with or without egg).

WHEN: 6:30 a.m. to noon Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday WHERE: 599 Forest Ave., Portland. ______________

At Rose Foods, the menu varies depending on the day, but there are usually six to eight flavors available. For example, should you pop in on a Friday, you’ll find a poppy and onion bialy (a cousin of the bagel that is not boiled). Rose Foods also makes a number of bagel sandwiches, including the Classic Nova with Nova lox and the Classic Whitefish. Advertisement

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily WHERE: 428 Forest Ave., Portland.



At Rover Bagel, you’ll find wood-fired plain, poppy, sea salt, sesame and everything bagels available most of the time, and the spread game here is strong with cream cheese options like lemon-thyme-honey cream and chili-garlic.

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon Sunday WHERE: 10 West Point Lane Suite 10-204, Biddeford (Pepperell Mill).

______________ Advertisement


You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the line of devoted fans waiting for Scratch Baking Co. to open, especially on weekend mornings. Along with the popular Maine sea salt, plain and other everyday flavors, Scratch has a daily special bagel. There’s honeyed rosemary on Wednesday and jalapeno cheddar on Thursday. Scratch is also famous, at least to locals, for its P-Cheese spread. It’s a pimento cheese recipe made with cheddar, mayo, roasted red peppers and seasoning and was passed down to co-owner and head baker Allison Reid by her grandmother, Mern.

WHEN: 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday, 7 a.m. to noon Sunday WHERE: 416 Preble St., South Portland. ___________


The Maine Bagel is a drive-thru with several breakfast and other kinds of sandwiches available. With a bagel list that features egg and bialy among the standards, the family-owned spot is the perfect place to stop on your way to Pine Point Beach. The Maine Bagel really shines with a dozen kinds of cream cheese spreads, including raisin-walnut, lox, strawberry, cranberry-nut and bacon-chive.

WHEN: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. WHERE: 117 Route 1, Scarborough. Advertisement


The Works Cafe is an institution on the edge of the Portland’s Old Port. It opened in 1990 as Bagel Works before it changed its name in 2002. The original shop in this regional chain opened in Manchester, Vermont, in 1988, and there are 11 locations around New England, though just the one in Maine. Gone are the ’90s-era banana-walnut bagels and cold pizza cream cheese, but The Works Cafe is still a reliable place to grab a salt, multigrain or cinnamon raisin bagel, among others. The menu also has bowls, sandwiches and smoothies.

WHEN: 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily WHERE: 15 Temple St., Portland.

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