Marilyn Beats the Odds in ‘River of No Return’

Marilyn faced multiple challenges while filming River Of No Return: a script she disliked, an unsympathetic director, and performing dangerous stunts in the Canadian Rockies (her bandaged ankle can be seen in this photo.) Nonetheless, while it is not considered one of her very best films, she managed to pull off an action-packed Western which strengthened her box-office appeal, as Gary Vitacco Robles reveals in the latest instalment of his series for Classic Movie Hub.

“The earthy role of Kay offers Monroe a departure from glamour and elegance. Kay holds her own with rugged prospectors yet has a kind heart and an attachment to [a] child. She maintains loyalty to a man who disappoints her, while resisting her attraction to a decent man.

Producer Stanley Rubin was challenged in convincing Monroe that the role would be a stepping-stone to her goal of becoming a dramatic actress rather than a musical comedy queen. However, his secret weapon was a recording of three songs with lyrics by Ken Darby and music by Lionel Newman, slated for Monroe to perform. It worked to motivate her in accepting the role.

Monroe soon realized she had entered one of the toughest productions of her career thus far. She faced a fierce director (Otto Preminger), her own stunts on the river rapids, and a near-drowning … The role of Kay offered Monroe a rare opportunity to portray an independent and assertive woman, and Monroe delivered a dynamic characterization. We believe Kay follows her own morality and will risk everything for a better life.”

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