The greed of a reckless gambler who has won a mining claim in a poker game forces three people, a farmer named Matt Calder, his son and the gambler's wife, Kay, into an adventure down the river and through the wilderness from which they may never return.
Shot in the Canadian Rockies, River of No Return ran over schedule and over budget. Part of the problem was director Otto Preminger, who insisted that the scenes of the raft struggling down the rapids be filmed with real actors, as opposed to stuntmen, resulting in a series of mishaps that delayed shooting. On one occasion, Marilyn
had to be saved form drowning when she fell into the river and her boots filled with water. On another, she and Mitchum
had to be rescued when the raft became stuck on a rock and was on the verge of turning over. Next, Marilyn sprained her ankle and began hobbling around the set on crutches. Joe DiMaggio rushed to the location with his own personal doctor, but Marilyn’s friend, actress Shelley Winters, later claimed in her autobiography that it was all a ruse. Marilyn was trying to get back at Preminger because the two had clashed over the presence of Natasha Lytess on the set.
Both Otto Preminger and Marilyn Monroe were forced to do the film against their will, due to contractual obligations. They both expressed their frustration over the script which they considered below par. However, the film was a box office hit upon its release and remains a popular classic western.
The 3 pairs of jeans that Marilyn Monroe wore in the movie were among a collection of her personal items that were sold for $42,550 at auction at Christies Auction House to designer Tommy Hilfiger.
Robert Mitchum was arrested for possession of marijuana during the filming of the movie. Marilyn Monroe's singing voice was dubbed by Gloria Wood. Jean Negulesco directed retakes when Otto Preminger wasn't available.
The screenplay by Frank Fenton is based on a story by Louis Lantz, who borrowed his premise from the 1948 Italian film The Bicycle Thief.
Gloria Wood provided the singing voice of Monroe, in the song, "River of No Return".
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