The All-time Best River Movies

The All-time Best River Movies

The leaves are starting to turn, it’s getting dark earlier and it’s the perfect time of year to pop some popcorn and snuggle up with a friend or loved one for a good ole’ movie night.  What to watch you ask?  We’re thinking something classic that will not only keep you entertained, but provide plenty of adventure and stunning scenery to stare at too.  A little Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn or Brad Pitt, perhaps? Check out our picks for the all-time best river movies…

A River Runs Through It

This 1992 classic starring a young Brad Pitt has become a favorite of many, but it’s not Pitt that gives this film its following. In A River Runs Through It, viewers are drawn in by the complicated relationship of two brothers and the magic of fly fishing on Montana’s rivers.

River of No Return

This adventure flick from 1954 gets its name from the actual River of No Return—Idaho’s Main Salmon—where scenes of this classic adventure film were shot. Did we mention it stars Marilyn Monroe? That’s probably worth a few hours of your time right there.

african queen

The African Queen

Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn (that should grab your attention) star in this ultimate adventure movie about a heavy-drinking riverboat captain who’s convinced by a missionary to attack an enemy warship during World War I. Selected for preservation in the U.S. National Film Registry, The African Queen has withstood the test of time.

The River Wild

It’s not necessarily the plot of this 1994 thriller about a family rafting trip interrupted by two criminals that makes The River Wild one of the best river movies of all-time, rather it’s the film’s great cinematography that transports viewers to the iconic rivers of the West like the Colorado and Rogue that makes it worth watching.

Into the Wild

Adapted from the book of the same name by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild is the compelling story of Christopher McCandless, a wandering soul who leaves everything behind and turns to the wilderness for a sense of place in the world. From his adventures on the Colorado River to the Alaskan wilderness, McCandless’ travels instill the spirit of adventure in all of its viewers, despite a tragic ending.

Got a comment about our list or want to add another one to the list?  Chime in below.


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  • Spencer Workinger

    What about Deliverence???

  • Matt Colver

    You forgot about Deliverance. After seeing that movie some buddies of mine decided it was a good idea to go down the lower Kern in a rubber ducky without any personal floatation. Bad idea. The barely survived.

  • Craig Amundsen

    And The River Wild featured at least one OARS guide as an extra in a bar scene. Or at least that’s what Greg Schill used to tell me.

  • Cari_Morgan

    Deliverance was definitely on the short list, just didn’t make it into the article. Looks like we hit a nerve leaving that one off! Sorry guys!

  • NiceHat

    “You don’t know nuthin”

  • joe

    Nothing like an article where the writer did zero research or even a two minute Google to see that Deliverance would have been the big mention, the best outdoor survival pic of all time on many a list and definitely ON every list.

    • Cari_Morgan

      Hi Joe – These types of lists can never be all-inclusive and often miss some favorites, but if you read the comments below you’ll see that Deliverance was definitely on our radar. Since then we’ve actually included it on our Must-Read River Books list (the book came first after all):

  • T York

    Thanks for the list! In addition … The Lost City of Z features a deadly trip down the Amazon river. Herzog’s Fitzcaraldo features the Amazon as well.

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