Allan Dwan’s The River Edge follows the story of three people. A rancher/hunting guide played by Anthony Quinn, his wife played by Debra Paget, and her ex-partner in grifting played by Ray Milland. Quinn found Paget somehow while in the city when she was on parole and married. They aren’t doing well on their isolated ranch. The film opens with Paget throwing what she thinks is water out the ranch door while wearing high heels with poofy fluffy things on them, letting everyone know this is a fish out of water. Milland has hunted them down to steal Paget back and go to Mexico with $1 million he has stolen. At first, she’s happy to go with them. Then all hell breaks loose. In order to get her back, Quinn agrees to take them to Mexico. The battle between Quinn and Milland makes up the movie’s core, with the former excellent as a rancher and the latter an embodiment of sleazy evil, a role he was always suited to play.
Allan Dwan could also put together a good western and does so here, one of the last of the 405(!!!) movies he directed, mostly silent quickies. I’m always a sucker for contemporary westerns. This one isn’t great. There are huge plot holes. It’s not totally clear how Milland has the money or even why Quinn decides to help them out. But as normal, Dwan provides capable direction and doesn’t pad the film with filler.
Definitely a worthy contemporary western.