Thomas "Tom" Dunson is the villain protagonist-turned-main antagonist of the 1948 Howard Hawks western Red River. He was the leader of a cattle drive, and the adoptive father of Matthew "Matt" Garth who was the sole survivor of a Indian massacre.
He was portrayed by John Wayne.
Why He Rocks
- It features one of John Wayne deepest and most complex performances (next to Ethan Edwards and Tom Doniphon), plus it's one of the first times he's played a (anti-)villainous character. In fact, John Ford himself notably said, "I never knew the big son of a bitch could act".
- Despite said gruff demeanor, he's still deeply conflicted with himself. Most of his harsh tone, trace back to his regret over leaving behind the love of his life to be killed by Indians. Him choosing to adopting the boy who survived the attack and becoming his foster father makes him an endearing figure and proves he does have a caring side.
- Even when he was threatening to kill Matt, he couldn't bring himself to do so when he finally reached him, because he had gotten so attached to him and didn't want to rob Tess of his romatic interest. That's got to count for something.
- He's a smart and clever planner towards the cattle drive. Towards the beginning of the film, he used a loophole saying he had never signed a contract to finish his journey with the others, but he closed said loophole when he forced his accompanying men he rounded up to actually sign.
- He's an incredibly skilled and quick gunman. Various scenes had showed him to be a powerful fighter and a fierce leader. He really wanted to keep his drive.
- You also need to give him props for being a serious determinator. Let's just say, there's a reason various people state he's near impossible to talk out of a situation when he's got his mind set. Not only was he stone focused on finishing his cattle drive to Missouri, there's also the fact that Matt eventually took over his the leader of the drive and he went a serious distance to reunite with him and "kill" him. That takes serious strength.