Rivers, the flooding of the landscape by man, decent people having to perform shitty tasks for a Greater Good, the passing of the old order...all richly emotive and laden with allegorical weight, but the real river of "Wild River" is Clift himself, who seems disoriented by the breaking dam and whitewater rapids of his own inner and private turmoil.
Elia Kazan might be one of my favorite directors. Panic in the Streets, East of Eden, On the Waterfront, Boomerang... and now Wild River. All great movies, with East of Eden making my personal top 10. Wild River is another masterpiece. Simple story, subdued direction and touching performances from everyone involved. The image of the house burning down will forever remain in my brain.
Beautifully shot (by Ellsworth Fredricks), with a wonderful sense of place (Tennessee) and history (New Deal-era 1930s). Occasionally a little stiff (a trait I associate with Kazan in general) but Montgomery Clift is fascinating as always and Lee Remick has some scenes that provide out-of-body experiences. The future Mrs. Kazan, Barbara "Wanda" Loden, also appears briefly.
[Cinémathèque PT #39: 35 mm] Remick's amazing blue eyes vs Clift's even more insane-looking darker & sadder ones. The film is that too. Those two could surely act. The story is so sad. So moving. So tragic. Don't think that there is a character in this film that's not totally damaged - as Blonde Redhead sing about in "For the Damaged". We're all crying inside. One can really die when forced to move out of HOME too ;(
Watched the pristine 35mm print at Film Forum; will be going to see it again this week on the big screen. One of my all time favorite films...and one of my very favorite Kazan films. Remick and Clift are extraordinary together....and Jo Van Fleet should have been nominated for this film!