One of the last of the 70s era, nostalgia-fueled private eye throwbacks, The Late Show stars comedian Art Carney in a surprisingly authentic turn as a hard-boiled, over-the-hill shamus, drawn out of retirement for one last big case.
The movie wears its nostalgic heart on its sleeve from the get-go, beginning with a sepia-toned Warner Bros. logo and a slow crooning torch song over the opening credits, as the camera does a slow pan around the rented room of Ira Wells (Carney). In a nice bit of visual background laying, we see the bric-a-brac Ira's accumulated over years of P.I. work. A black & white WWII movie plays on the TV in the background, as Ira sits at his desk, the first page of his memoirs (titled "Naked Girls and Machine Guns") in the typewriter in front of him.
After this gentle opening, the plot kicks in immediately as Ira's landlady, Mrs. Schmidt (Ruth Nelson) knocks on his door and tells him he has a visitor. Ira finds old buddy Harry Regan (Howard Duff) gutshot and bleeding. "Mrs. Schmidt, call the police. Tell them to get an ambulance here fast. Tell 'em we got a dying man." Ira tries to get Harry to tell him who shot him, but no dice.
Later, at Harry's funeral, Ira is approached by another cronie form the old days, Charlie (Bill Macy), a two-bit, shady producer and informant. Charlie introduces Ira to Margo (Lily Tomlin), a nervous motormouth of a woman who wants to hire Ira to rescue her kidnapped cat from a drug dealer named Brian. Ira turns her down flat, but later confronts Charlie to see what the real game is. Seems Harry started off trying to help Margo and stumbled onto a larger crime, a stamp robbery turned murder, and tried to cut himself in on the finder's fee, leading to his death. Turns out one of the robbers is the same Brian who's holding Margo's cat to ransom.
There is a river
called the River of No Return
Sometimes it's peaceful
And sometimes wild and free
A straightforward, scenic and exciting "A" western with the lean, get-in-and-get-the-job-done running time of a "B", River of No Return put major stars Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe together for the first and only time, and the Cinemascope frame can barely contain their combined high-wattage screen presence.
Against the awe-inspiring mountain peaks and wide river valleys of Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, River opens with widower Matt Calder (Mitchum) - recently released from prison for killing a man - riding into a booming mining camp to collect his nine-year-old son, Mark, who he has arranged to pick up there. He soon finds the boy, wandering around on his own amid the chaos of the camp.
The boy has struck up a friendship with sultry saloon gal, Kay (Monroe). While Matt takes Mark back to his small cabin and they bond over the hard work of making it a homestead, Kay's no-good gambler boyfriend, Harry (Rory Calhoun) rolls into town. Somehow, Harry's got his hands on a gold mine claim and, with no horses available, he and Kay head off down river on a raft to cash in. Conveniently, they run into trouble on the rapids near Matt and Mark's cabin and are rescued by father and son.
Matt advises Harry to not attempt going any further down the treacherous river. In his desperation to get to his claim in Council City before the original owner can take action, Harry callously repays Matt's hospitality by stealing his horse and rifle. When they scuffle and Harry bludgeons Matt with the rifle butt, Kay refuses to leave the wounded man and his boy alone, so Harry rides off with an empty promise to come back for her.
Defenseless without his rifle, and the river the only means of escape, Matt flees on the raft with Mark and Kay as some Indians close in and burn the cabin to the ground. From then on, Matt's all business, his main goals to keep them alive and exact his revenge on Harry. Kay is equally intent on protecting her tarnished beau. The two do the usual fighting, bickering and slowly burgeoning romance thing, while contending with not only the deadly rapids but attacks from cougars, Indians and rapacious miners on their way to a fateful showdown in Council City...
Opinionated ramblings about new and old movies (mostly old, as that's the way I like 'em!)
Blogs of Note
Stuart Galbraith IV's World Cinema Paradise
Movie Morlocks (TCM's Classic Movie Blog)
50 Westerns from the 50s
Riding the High Country
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Laura's Miscellaneous Musings
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Films From Beyond the Time Barrier
Carole & Co.
Rupert Pupkin Speaks
Vienna's Classic Hollywood
The Lady Eve's Reel Life
ClassicBecky's Brain Food
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