Red River

Red River (1948) is a frontier epic, the sweeping tale of a journey that can’t be made and the story of a son forced to battle the father he loves. Montgomery Clift had his breakout role opposite cowboy icon John Wayne, playing the adopted son of the self-made cattle baron, and the clash of acting styles is electric. Iconic elder statesman Wayne wears his character like a buckskin, dominating the screen. Yet the upstart Method actor Clift matches him with burning intensity. Director Howard Hawks’ measured style leans more to Wayne: He seems to let the characters take the story along with them. Yet behind that easy pace is a tale of madness, betrayal, and vengeance simmer beneath the harsh sun. “I never knew the big sonofabitch could act,” director John Ford famously said of Wayne’s performance. True, but the real revelation was Clift, and his internalized, psychologically-driven approach arguably pushed Wayne to reach for colors he’d never brought to a role before. Red River is the first of three Clift titles being screened for Gay Pride Month. (NR) SEAN AXMAKER

Fri., June 8, 7:30 p.m., 2012