Rivers are often enemies in movies. Below are 5 of the better ones.
- Chinatown. Rotten Tomatoes calls this film a “noir classic” and it is. Its hateful villain is Noah Cross, the rich and powerful head of LA’s water department who justifies all human behavior including incest. Noah, played by John Huston in a juicy, late career performance, uses his position to destroy water tanks and worse while bringing water from distant rivers to Los Angeles to get even wealthier. He is one nasty villain!
- The Bridge on the River Kwai. Brits in a Japanese concentration camp during World War II build a bridge over a strategic river that leads to the deaths of thousands. Based on an actual incident, this movie won the Best Picture Academy Award in 1958. The bridge was in Burma but the movie was shot in what is now Sir Lanka. Wikipedia correctly calls Colonel Saito played by Japanese actor Sessue Hayakawa “an honorable villain.” An international star who made about 80 movies, Hayakawa was nominated for his performance in this film but did not win.
- Into the Wild. Based on a true story written by Jon Krakauer in one of his first literary successes, Into the Wild tells about Chris McCandless, a privileged young man who gives away all of his possessions and tries to survive an Alaskan winter in an old bus. He is alone. The villain is the Teklanika River. Chris decided to return to society, but this river, now thawing and flowing dangerously, prevents this.
- Sully. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger was a national hero in a film directed by Clint Eastwood. He was the pilot who made an emergency landing in the Hudson River and was able to save the lives of all 155 passengers. This tale has 3 villains–the US Government, winter, and a flock of birds. The National Transportation Safety Board claimed pilot error and the crash caused by birds happened in January.
- Against the Current. This movie also starred the Hudson River. Fewer people saw it because this fine film went direct to video when released in 2009. Its hero loses his wife in a birthing tragedy, the villain, and 5 years later he decides to swim down the Hudson River from Upstate New York to New York City. Its grim but excellent. One of its genuine pleasures is a late career performance by Mary Tyler Moore.