Saturday, February 13, 2016

A KISS IS JUST A KISS blogathon: Rio Grande (1950)

Lesley Gaspar of Second Sight Cinema is hosting a Valentine's Day treat for us all, the A Kiss is Just a Kiss blogathon devoted to our favourite film kisses.  Click HERE for the contributions.

John Ford's Rio Grande, released by Republic Pictures in 1950 was the first onscreen teaming of Maureen O'Hara (Miracle on 34th Street) and John Wayne (Red River).  It is almost unfathomable that it took so long.  For a decade, since her appearance in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1939 Maureen was one of Hollywood's best and versatile leading ladies appearing in comedies, dramas and action films.  John Wayne had been in Hollywood longer, but it was in 1939 as well, in Ford's Stagecoach that he became a superstar.  Both actors possessed a great charisma, dignity and attractiveness.  Personally, they shared a deep and loyal friendship.  Onscreen they were a match of equals made in cinematic heaven and would appear in five films together; three of them directed by John Ford.

Maureen O'Hara and John Wayne had committed to John Ford years earlier to appear in his pet project The Quiet Man should it ever get the green light.  That time had come, but first Ford had to get the pesky business of a western for Herbert Yates' studio out of the way before he could take his heart and his crew to Ireland.

Lt. Col. Kirby Yorke and his estranged wife Kathleen are the characters played by our stars.  They have been separated since the American Civil War during which Kirby had burned to the ground his wife's family plantation.  She raised their baby son on her own as Kirby pursued his military career.  Many years later that son has grown and is played by Claude Jarmin, Jr. (Intruder in the Dust).  The teenager has failed a course at West Point and enlisted as a cavalryman assigned to his father's far western outpost.  Young Jefferson Yorke's arrival is closely followed by that of his mother.  Kathleen, following military guidelines, has come to buy Jeff's release from his oath.  His father's permission is required as well and that Kirby will not give.  He is proud of his son and jealous of the time that he now has to get to know Jeff.

Kathleen's presence on the post brings up old and unresolved feelings between the couple.  As the country had to struggle to come together after the conflict, will the Yorkes find their way beyond their stubborn pride and back to each other?

Kathleen arrives at the outpost.

"I am not unauthorized.  I am Trooper Jefferson Yorke's mother."

Kirby relinquishes his quarters to his son's mother.
Is anyone else sensing an attraction here?

These are two very strong-minded individuals.

Kathleen:  "Ramrod, wreckage and ruin.  Still the same Kirby."
Kirby:  "Special privilege to special born.  Still the same Kathleen."

The regimental singers perform "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen"
in Mrs. Yorke's honour. 

Kirby:  "This song is not of my choosing."
Kathleen:  "I'm sorry, Kirby.  I wish it had been."

The Yorkes are slowly finding their way back to each other.
Circumstances force another separation.

Kathleen:  "Aren't you going to kiss me goodbye, Kirby?"
Kirby:  "I never want to kiss you goodbye, Kathleen."

Since Lesley announced this blogathon and I selected this scene, I have wracked my brain for an appropriate closing sentence.  This is the point in the movie where I just sit and sigh with a silly grin on my face.  Like Pavlov's dogs I can only say, from the bottom of my toes, "sigh".


  1. Oooh - hot kiss! CW, I'm with you on this one. John Wayne knew his way around the ladies and can always elicit the appropriate "sigh." Loved your post. He was manly man indeed!

    1. John Wayne is such a powerful actor, but he always lets his leading ladies shine. He knew how to share the screen without giving away his ground.

  2. I think I saw this one. I remember that part where the soldiers sing to her, anyway. Wayne looks like a different person with a mustache.

    1. I think he looks quite dashing, almost Fairbanks-like. This is one of my favourite movies with a terrific mix of heart, humor, action and a terrific Victor Young score.

  3. Ooooh weeee! I got to watch this film just to see that kiss in real-live time. ;-)

  4. This was the first Wayne-O'Hara pairing I ever saw, and I was amazed by the powerful chemistry between these two. I wasn't familiar with Maureen O'Hara at the time and I wondered, "Who IS this actress?"

    It's been a long time since I've seen this one, but you've made me want to see it again. And yes, I agree with your closing statement: "Sigh!"

    1. We'll sigh together.

      I hope you catch this again soon. It holds up beautifully to re-watches.

  5. Don't know how I missed this post! I'm really bad at reading other people posts in blogathons unless I'm the host (and despite saying at the bottom of all my Blogathon posts "Be sure to read all the other posts!).

    Anyway, I was working on my post on Rio Grande for the John Wayne Blogathon and came across it. I smile at the end like that too ;)

  6. Again I'm late to the party, but I think that's a great entry into the blogathon. Wayne and O'Hara sizzle, they're one of my favorite screen couples. In Rio Grande you really believe that, even after 15 years, those two are still in love. The kiss is great.

    It's another movie that is quite sentimental, but stays just this side of sappiness.

    So often Wayne is remembered as an old, overweight guy. But we have to see his earlier pictures to get a glimpse of a very good-looking and fit Wayne.



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