InsidePulse DVD Review – The River's Edge


Directed by
Allan Dwan

Ray Milland …. Nardo Denning
Anthony Quinn …. Ben Cameron
Debra Paget …. Margaret Cameron (unmarried Margaret Fowler)
Harry Carey Jr. …. Chet
Chubby Johnson …. Wiskers
Byron Foulger …. Barry
Tom McKee …. U.S. Border Patrol Captain
Frank Gerstle …. Harry Castleton

The Movie:

If you look at the cover for The River’s Edge, the back cover says something about it being a “gripping Western”, which is what I was looking forward to when I put it in. You can imagine my disappointment upon watching the film that the movie isn’t a Western at all in the traditional sense, but type of Rural Noir film. Getting past this initial disappointment, the film turns out to be a watchable romp with two decent performances and an attractive redhead, but little else.

The first few moments of the film are all setup, Nardo Denning (Ray Milland) shows up out of nowhere with a proposition for rancher Ben Cameron (Anthony Quinn) and his wife Meg (Debra Paget). He simply wants Ben to take him across the Mexican border safely and in exchange, the poor rancher will be a couple hundred bucks richer. In true Noir fashion, all of this falls apart when it’s revealed that Denning is actually Meg’s ex-lover and partner in crime. With a briefcase full of loot in tow, this movie turns out to be an interesting Noir piece with a lot of major flaws.

Milland and Quinn are both quite good here as the male leads. Quinn is especially good as he seems to morph right in front of us from a yokel into the hard nosed, macho hero we knew him to be so many times before. Quinn seems to smolder with anger as he looks back to see Milland constantly pointing a pistol at him, but is quick with a quip when he has the opportunity. There always seems to be something right under the surface with this character that keeps things cracking. Is he simply the jealous husband, or has he really shunned his new bride? Is he really the goofy farmer from the beginning of the film or a man of action, whose going to take this rogue down?

Milland is at his smarmy best, as he plays Denning as the most charming of psychopaths. Denning seems to have no problems with either stealing Cameron’s wife or killing a border patrolman for no reason. Even simply getting a glimpse of Denning’s stolen money is enough to get you killed as an innocent miner finds out after helping the villain.

Unfortunately, the film can’t overcome its biggest problem; budget. Too many instances occur when you’re taken out of the movie by cheap effects or sets. The most glaring of these instances occur when Cameron and the others enter a camper he owns. It’s more than just light diffusion at work when the trio enters the small camper to find that it’s rather spacious inside. It’s not quite as bad as the scene in Loaded Weapon, but it is bad enough to be noticeable. Other moments feature what is obviously either stock footage or bad editing in place of a stunt that was supposed to have taken place. All the hard boiled dialogue in the world isn’t enough to save this movie when everything just looks so cheaply made.

Also not helping is Debra Paget, who simply seems out her depth acting wise against the male leads. Physically, she’s sultry enough to lure each of these men to their deaths, but she’s not exactly Barbara Stanwyck. I know this is really only a B-Movie, but it’s disappointing that she comes up this short when Milland and Quinn are obviously working so hard.

The River’s Edge might have been a really great Noir with a bigger budget and better female lead. As it is, it’s an underwhelming with isolated moments that are quite good. Never really terrible, but never great The River’s Edge is simply another B-Movie that can’t overcome its flaws.

Score: 5.5 /10

The DVD:

The Video

Much like the movie itself, this print is OK at best. The colors seem to really fluctuate at points, which can be kind of distracting. The film is presented in Anamorphic Widescreen with an Aspect Ratio of 2.35:1.

The Audio

The audio here is better, but again unspectacular. The dialogue and soundtrack never conflict, which is better than many discs like this.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary, Still Gallery, Trailers

Audio commentary by James Ursini and Alain Silver – This is the best thing on this entire disc. Both men here seem to have intimate knowledge of Director Allen Dwan as well as several bits of trivia about this film itself. This is a really good commentary. Too bad it’s for a sub-par film.

Stills Gallery

Trailers for this film and Two other Fox Classics

Score: 4.5 /10

InsidePulse’s Ratings for The River’s Edge
(OUT OF 10)