Elia Kazan is often considered to be one of the most influential directors working in post-war American cinema. Responsible for introducing the world to James Dean and Marlon Brando, he was rewarded with two Best Director Oscars for Gentlemen’s Agreement and On The Waterfront. He also received an honorary award from the Academy. His films reflect on the personal or social issues which were important to him. Despite being widely lauded in film circles, it’s inexplicable that he’s not still widely revered alongside the likes of Stanley Kubrick. Wild River is a tale of new versus old and the personal cost of progress.
Chuck Glover (Montgomery Clift) arrives in rural Tennessee as a representative of the Tennessee Valley Authority. His job is to clear Garth Island ahead of the land being flooded for the new dam. The one person standing in his way is the inimitable Ella Garth (Jo Van Fleet). Despite his best efforts, the matriarch refuses to move. The situation becomes more complicated when Chuck falls for her granddaughter (Lee Remick). Especially when the locals object to him employing black farm hands.
There are no great surprises in Wild River. What Kazan succeeds in doing is telling a story which is a microcosm of issues which were affecting wider America. He tackles many social issues within the confines of the story. There are great performances from Montgomery Clift and Lee Remick; the latter really stealing the show. Wild River has the feel of a great American movie. It’s a powerful and well-observed piece of film making.
Special Edition Features
New 1080p transfer of the film on Blu-ray, with a progressive encode on the DVD
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
New feature-length audio commentary with critics Glenn Kenny and Farran Smith Nehme
Original theatrical trailer
Gallery of behind-the-scenes and production stills
32-page colour booklet featuring a new essay on the film by critic Adrian Martin, remarks about the film by director Elia Kazan, and rare archival imagery
Wild River is released on Dual Format by Eureka as part of the Masters of Cinema Collection on February 23.