[[caption-width-right:350:[[Music/TheClash Hey, where did I see this guy?]]]]

A 1948 movie starring Creator/JohnWayne, the first [[TheWestern Western]] directed by Creator/HowardHawks. Perhaps the ultimate CattleDrive movie, it is based on the novel ''The Blazing Guns of the Chisholm Trail'' by Borden Chase, which was originally serialized in the ''Saturday Evening Post''.

Remarkable as the first movie in which John Wayne played a character with greater depth, an aging man, and a larger-than-life borderline {{Ubermensch}}. On first seeing it, Creator/JohnFord famously commented: "[[SugarWiki/HeReallyCanAct Hey, the S.O.B. can act!]]" Ford would go on to use Wayne in a similar way in ''Film/TheSearchers'', and it is perhaps significant that critics have likened the Duke's character in both these films to Captain Ahab from ''Literature/MobyDick''. Originally Hawks wanted to cast Creator/GaryCooper in the lead, but Cooper demanded the screenplay be changed in order to make his character more sympathetic, so Hawks offered the part to Wayne instead. Which turned out a good thing, because not only could Wayne teach Hawks a thing or two about filming Westerns, but he also was instrumental in getting the budget doubled to $1.5 million.

In the prologue, Tom Dunson (Wayne) and his sidekick Groot (Walter Brennan) set up a farm on the Red River in Texas. Dunson's lady love Fen is killed in an Indian attack on a wagon trek, but he picks up the sole survivor, Matt, and adopts him, using his cow as the first of germ of what is to become a giant cattle farm.

Many years later, Matt (Creator/MontgomeryClift) returns from the UsefulNotes/TheAmericanCivilWar at a time when Dunson and the other farmers are in trouble because there is no buyer in Texas for their cattle. So the farmers pool their herds together for a 10,000-head drive to Missouri on what will be known as the Chisholm Trail under Dunson's leadership. Since Dunson in the prologue had not hesitated to shoot off the rightful Mexican owner of part of his land, it comes as no surprise that he runs the drive a bit harshly when times are tough. Although there are plenty of dangers and hairy moments on the drive, including a big stampede, to make this ''somewhat'' understandable, Dunson does not exactly behave rationally after a while, for instance in his outright refusal to change the direction to Abilene, which is nearer and where a new railhead has just been opened.

Things come to a head when after fording the titular Red River Dunson wants to hang two of his cowhands. The crew mutinies and the trek heads on for Abilene under Matt's leadership, leaving an injured Dunson behind. On the trail they rescue a trek of settlers from a Comanche attack, where Matt meets Tess Millay (Joanne Dru) and falls in love with her. Tom Dunson meanwhile has set off in hot pursuit with some hired gunmen, swearing to get the herd back and kill Matt. He later comes across Tess as well, who tries to dissuade him from his mad quest in vain.

After the arrival in Abilene, Matt succeeds in selling off the entire herd, but then has to face up with Dunson the following day. As Matt refuses to draw, Dunson can't bring himself to shoot him in cold blood and the showdown devolves into a fistfight, which is finally broken up by Tess. Says Dunston to Matt: "You better marry that girl."

Not to be confused with the {{time travel}}ling [[Manga/AnatoliaStory Shoujo Manga]] of the same name. Film debut of Montgomery Clift, although the long delay after production wrapped meant that Clift's second film, ''Film/TheSearch'', actually came out first.

!!This film shows examples of:
* AlliterativeTitle
* AnimalStampede: The CattleDrive that forms the main plot is interrupted by a stampede. Many cattle are lost, a man is killed, and Dunson starts growing more erratic under the pressure.
* BigBad: Tom Dunson.
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Cherry's morality was always a little shaky until his HeelFaceTurn at the end. And Mr. Dunson kept spiralling downward up until the very end.
* BlastingItOutOfTheirHands: Part of Matt's ImprobableAimingSkills; he does this to a cowboy to prevent a fatal shootout between said cowboy and Dunson.
* CampCook: Groot, though ''some'' may disagree.
* CattleBaron: Dunson.
* CattleDrive: The main focus of the film.
* ChekhovsGun: One of the cowboys has a habit of stealing from the sugar supply. Eventually he knocks over a bunch of pans while stealing sugar, causing the cattle to stampede.
* CoolTrain
* CurbStompBattle: When Cherry tries to stop Dunson before the final showdown with Matt, he barely even slows him down.
* DeadpanSnarker: This being a Howard Hawks film, it's a WorldOfSnark. Everyone from Dunson to Groot to Matt to Cherry to Tess to Quo.
* DueToTheDead: Dunson has an odd habit of giving a Christian burial and reading a service to the men he murders. The three guys who escape from his cattle drive call him on this as he's about to execute them.
* FastestGunInTheWest: Cherry wants to go toe to toe with Matt, to see who's the best.
* FatalFamilyPhoto: There isn't a photo. But otherwise this trope is played straight as Dan the cowboy waxes on about the nice red shoes and all the other things he'd like to buy his pretty bride, only to die in the very next scene during the stampede.
* GenreSavvy: [[SubvertedTrope Subverted.]] When noticing the friendly shooting competition Cherry and Matt engage in, Groot remarks that it's setting up an inevitable confrontation between the two. (Turns out to be WrongGenreSavvy; Cherry supports Matt in the mutiny and becomes his effective second in command.)
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: Without quite saying so, the film makes clear that Tess and all the girls in the wagon train that our heroes encounter are prostitutes. They are, after all, strangely attractive and dressed suspiciously well for a Wild West wagon train.
* TheGunslinger: Cherry Valance is a well known gunman.
* IllKillYou: Dunson tells Matt this after the mutiny, turns out to be nothing but hot air later.
* InTheStyleOf: It seems like Creator/HowardHawks was trying to make a Creator/JohnFord western.
* JustAFleshWound: Tess barely reacts to having a arrow pierce her shoulder. Though it appears to hurt a lot more coming out.
* MacGuffin: The bracelet that Tom Dunson gives to Fen and later on Matt gives to Tess.
* MacGuffinEscortMission: The plot revolves around a CattleDrive.
* MajorInjuryUnderreaction: Tess is pinned to a wagon by an arrow through the shoulder. She doesn't even stop talking.
* TheMutiny: ''Red River'' has been described as "''Film/MutinyOnTheBounty'' on the prairie". Dunson's increasingly erratic and tyrannical behavior leads to Matt taking control of the cattle drive and going to Abilene instead of Missouri. The last straw is when Dunson says he's going to hang three men who tried to leave the party.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: The man who accidentally started the stampede making a clatter while trying to steal sugar from the chuck wagon, which leads to Dan Latimer's death.
* TheNarrator: Groot, [[ReCut depending on which cut of the film you're watching.]] The cut commonly available in latter days has pages from a diary instead of spoken narration.
* ProfessionalGambler: Tess and her troupe.
* RecycledINSPACE: The writers admitted that the film was ''Film/MutinyOnTheBounty'', with cows.
* RetiredGunfighter
* {{Retirony}}: Harry Carey's character talks about what he's going to do with the money he gets when the cattle drive is over. He talks about buying a home and getting his wife a pair of fancy red shoes. He's dead five minutes later.
* RetiredGunfighter
* SexyDiscretionShot: Tess and Matt meet up when he's on night watch, they have a heart-to-heart ... and then we fade to them laying back and flirting.
** Later on, when she shows up in his hotel room to warn him Dunson's coming, it's followed by a BigDamnKiss ... and then a fade to another scene.
* ShapedLikeItself: Dunson saying, "I don't like quitters--especially when they're not good enough to finish what they started."
* ShowdownAtHighNoon: subverted
* SparedByTheAdaptation: Tom Dunson.
* SpiritedYoungLady: Tess Millay, the ladylike, elegant ... and ''sassy'' ProfessionalGambler who doesn't bat an eye when ''shot by an arrow''.
* SuckOutThePoison: Well, maybe Matt really did think that Tess had been shot with a poison arrow. Or maybe he just wanted some action.
* SweetTooth: One of Dunson's men has a predilection for stealing sugar from the chuck wagon, which has disastrous consequences when his clattering one night rouses the skittish cattle to stampede.
* TokenEvilTeammate: Cherry Valance till his HeelFaceTurn anyway.
* TheWestern
* WorthyOpponent: Matt and Cherry. When they first meet, they admire each other's guns and have a friendly bout of shooting. ''Everyone'' around them braces for the inevitable eventual confrontation. Doesn't happen--their mutual respect leads to a kind of friendship.
* YoungGun: Matt and Cherry.
* YouNoTakeCandle: Quo the faithful Indian says stuff like "Me bet one silver dollar. Put up, or keep face closed." (Of course, Quo actually wins that poker hand.)