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Film / Rio Grande

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Rio Grande is a 1950 western film directed by John Ford, starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara. It is the third installment of the "Cavalry Trilogy," which also includes Fort Apache (1948) and She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949).

Lieutenant Colonel Kirby Yorke (Wayne) commands troops on the frontier. The Indians regularly attack the US Cavalry and they cross the Mexican border to avoid a direct confrontation. One day, Kirby's son Jefferson Yorke arrives at the camp as a new recruit. Kirby has not seen him for 15 years. Short later, Jefferson's mother Kathleen (O'Hara) also arrives at the camp and she tries to persuade Kirby to let his son go away with her.

Rio Grande provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Maureen O'Hara was only 30 years old when the film came out, only 14 years older than the actor playing Jeff.
  • Annoying Arrows: In the final battle, Kirby Yorke is hit by an arrow in the chest. He survives his wound.
  • Book Ends: In the opening scene, troops of the US Cavalry enter the camp after a skirmish with the Indians. In the end, troops enter the camp after their victory.
  • Cavalry Officer: Kirby Yorke is a lieutenant colonel of the US Cavalry.
  • Colonel Badass: Kirby Yorke is a lieutenant colonel.
  • Disappeared Dad: Jefferson Yorke's background. He has not seen his father for fifteen years.
  • Disney Death: Kirby Yorke is hit by an arrow in the final battle. He seems to die, but actually he is just wounded.
  • Divorce Is Temporary: Kirby Yorke and his wife Kathleen have been separated for fifteen years. They make up in the film.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Jeff Yorke turns out to be a brave soldier like his father Kirby.
  • Married to the Job: Kirby Yorke. Fifteen years ago, he burned his wife's plantation to respect the orders. His wife was furious about that and they have lived separately from that moment.
  • Run for the Border: The tactic of the Indians to escape from the US Cavalry.
  • The Savage Indian: The Indians are the antagonists. They kidnap children. They have no positive traits.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Jeff Yorke flunks out of West Point and enlists in the army as a private to earn the respect of and to get to know his estranged father. Colonel Yorke clearly cares for his son, but can only show/do so much due to his position as commanding officer and both his and Jeff's desire that the young private succeed on his own merit. After proving himself by undertaking a dangerous mission to rescue kidnapped children, Jeff earned his father's praise in three ways. His father trusts him to pull an arrow out of his shoulder, asks his son to help him to his horse, and finally states to his now reconciled wife that "Our boy did well."