Van Johnson and Milburn Stone in Siege at Red River (1954)

Singing at Red River

Confederate soldiers James Farraday (Van Johnson) and Benjy Thompson (Milburn Stone) are masquerading as a couple of travelling medicine show salesman, who go from town to town where a network of spies pass on instructions to them when they sing a specific song about "Tapioca". The reason for the masquerade is that hidden in the back of their piano is a stolen gatling gun which they are aiming to take back down to the South. On their journey they end up coming to the aid of stranded Union nurse Nora Curtis (Joanne Dru) and take her back to her town. It is there that their next contact is killed and they find themselves being blackmailed by Brett Manning (Richard Boone) who steals the gun and sells it to Chief Yellow Hawk.

When I read a brief synopsis of "Siege at Red River" I was convinced I had seen it before as the mention of a gatling gun being sneaked across country and ending up in the hands of Indians was familiar. Having watched "Siege at Red River" I realise I hadn't but I am not surprised that it felt familiar as the entire movie is simply a routine 1950s western which is shot in Technicolor and so have that colour tone which is actually more memorable than what actually goes on.

The thing is that "Siege at Red River" isn't bad; Van Johnson and Richard Boone both play their parts well whilst Joanne Dru is as stunning looking as ever. But the story which features good guys, bad guys, some double crossing and the requisite amount of action is for the most forgettable even with things building so that Farraday ends up conflicted when he feels a need to act. About the only thing memorable about "Siege at Red River" is the catchy code song "Tapioca" which you have to say is a strange song for travelling medicine salesmen to sing.

What this all boils down to is that "Siege at Red River" is nothing special and just a typical western from the mid 1950s which is ultimately forgettable, merging in to the mixing point of middle of the road westerns from that decade. About the only thing memorable about it is the song "Tapioca" although Joanne Dru acting drunk is amusing.