Rio Grande (1950)

Film and Plot Synopsis

A cavalry officer posted on the Rio Grande is confronted with murderous raiding Apaches, a son who’s a risk-taking recruit and his wife from whom he has been separated for many years.

‘Rio Grande’ Movie Summary

The summary below contains spoilers.
Rio Grande (1950)Circa 1879, Lieutenant Colonel Kirby Yorke is posted with the 2nd U.S. Cavalry Regiment along the Texas side of the Rio Grande River, defending the terrain against attacks by marauding Apaches. Yorke returns to his camp after capturing the Apache’s leader. Kirby is a career soldier who is pressured by his superiors to control the Apaches who are using the Mexico side of the Rio Grande as their sanctuary and a severe shortage of troops in his unit.

Yorke’s young son, Trooper Jefferson Yorke, whom he has not seen in 15 years, is sent to the regiment. The younger Yourke had recently flunked out of West Point, failing his math class, but immediately enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army. Trooper Yorke informs his father that he does not want, or expect, special treatment because he is his son. The colonel agrees without hesitation. Jefferson immediately becomes friendly with fellow Troopers Travis Tyree, a young man being chased by Texas Rangers for a manslaughter charge, and Daniel “Sandy” Boone, who is no relation to the legendary American pioneer.

Days later, Yorke’s estranged wife, Kathleen, arrives unannounced to buy Trooper Yorke out of his enlistment and take him back home. Jefferson refuses his mother’s plea to buy him out of the Army and informs her that his father, as the commanding officer, must sign the discharge papers, along with his own. Trooper Yorke wants to remain in the Army and will not honor his parent’s wishes. As the protective parents argue over their son’s life and future, they begin to reevaluate their feelings for each other and separately hope the family can be happy again.

During the cover of night, warriors from three Apache tribes collectively attack the U.S. Army fort. The Apaches sacrifice their lives, burn the camp structures, and free the Army’s horses from their pens. The Apaches locate their leader and free him, as the Troopers begin to mount a defensive movement. They soldiers chase after their attackers, but are unable to recapture the Apache chief.

Trooper Tyree is finally arrested by a U.S. Marshal for the manslaughter charges. The Marshall confines Tyree to the post hospital while waiting for Colonel Yorke’s to allow Tyree’s release from the camp. Mrs. Yorke helps put a defense for Tyree, but the Marshall ignores the Colonel’s wife. Shortly after returning from a meeting in the Rio Grande with the Mexican army, Colonel Yorke has his horse stolen by Trooper Tyree, who escapes custody and goes AWOL.

Colonel Yorke is visited by General Philip Sheridan, Yorke’s commanding officer. General Sheridan orders Yorke to cross the Rio Grande into Mexico and eliminate the Apaches once and for all. The General informs Yorke that if he fails to eradicate the wild Apache tribe, Yorke will face a court-martial, possibly putting an end to his military career. However, General Sheridan promises Yorke the trial jury will be stacked with soldiers who served with them during the Civil War. Yorke agrees with this commander and accepts the mission.

Colonel Yorke sends all of the women and children in his camp to Ft. Bliss for safety, while his Troopers march towards Mexico. Troopers Jefferson and Boone cross paths with Tyree, who warns them about the Apaches in the area. The Apaches attack the family wagon train and take the children and corporal Bell’s wife captive. Jefferson races off to the fort to share the news of the attack, but is attacked by three Apaches along the way. He is nearly captured but is saved by Travis Tyree who was trailing behind.

Yorke’s regiment finds the remainder of the wagon train, four slaughtered troopers, and the lack of children. Troopers Tyree, Boone, and Jefferson lead the way to Mexico where they find the children in a ruined church. The trio lead an attack on the Mexican village where the Apaches are hiding out, giving Yorke time to get his cavalrymen in position for the rescue. During the fighting, Colonel Yorke is shot in his suspenders by an arrow, but the wound is not mortal. Yorke is dragged back to the fort by his troops, where Kathleen is eager to be with her family again.

As a wounded Colonel Yorke watches on, Tyree, Boone, Jeff, Navajo Scout Son of Many Mules, and Corporal Bell are given awards for their valor. At the ceremony, a U.S. Marshall attempts to arrest Trooper Tyree, but Yorke quickly gives Tyree a furlough so he can go on the run again. Tyree mounts General Sheridan’s horse and races off into the planes. The regimental band proceeds to play Dixie at General Yorke’s request, to please Mrs. Yorke, who is giving him sexy eyes while twirling her umbrella.

Rate the Film!

Our Rating

Republic Pictures released Rio Grande on November 15, 1950. John Ford directed the film starring John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, and Ben Johnson.

User Rating: 4.01 ( 4 votes)
Show More
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Back to top button
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x