Pssst, want to check out Wild River in our new look?
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A fascinating look at progress verses tradition and the lengths people will go to preserve both. Clift's intensity is not only needed here but also utilized very well. Although I've never cared for Lee Remick's performances before, she was appropriately intense without being overly dramatic. Jo Van Fleet's performance was heartbreaking, she was so good. I have personally faced the issue of personal tradition and heart-held memories verses the common good (otherwise known by the awful name of eminent domain) and this movie captured the anguish and glories that go hand in hand with it.
Progress versus tradition, rugged individualism versus common good, idealism versus pragmatism all interweave in Elia Kazan's marvellous movie set in depression ridden south during the 30s. Beautiful textured with remarkable location shooting, the film does not provide us with a simple comforting answer to the issues it examines, it rather observes their inherent contradictions. These contradictions are embodied in Montgomery Clift's character who vacillates between reason an emotion, while his indecisiveness is strongly contrasted with the strong-mindedness of the local people. The improbable romance supports these contrasts and Kazan, though clearly a progressive, captures the sense of loss when a certain way of life has to be left behind.
Never before or after in film (?) has a woman give herself so completely to a man. I strong man fantasy indeed.
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In 7 official lists
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This movie ranks #226 in Eureka!'s The Masters of Cinema Series
This movie ranks #353 in Library of Congress's National Film Registry
This movie ranks #475 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Cinema
This movie ranks #476 in Cahiers du Cinéma's Annual Top 10 Lists
This movie ranks #597 in David Thomson's Have You Seen?
This movie ranks #608 in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films: 1001-2000
This movie ranks #907 in Doubling the Canon