In Red River, Wayne once again plays a character, Thomas Dunson, who makes one question whether his character is truly an alpha male cowboy. Although he is a cattle rancher who makes his living from the land, he once again shows emotion and vengeance in his actions towards the men on the cattle drive and his own son matt. However, I believe that there are two alpha male cowboys in this story as both he and matt show qualities of being them. Tom is the natural leader who steered west to start a new life. He has no emotion to his love interest being killed and presses on to his destination. Later on, when he must drive the cattle north, he becomes like the land as Thompkins states “never truly blank, but it is constantly changing” (78) as he turns from leader into hunter.
Matt is the hero towards the middle to the end of the film. He was raised by Dunson on the land and to have the characteristics of it. He is tough, strong, and can take over a situation if needed. When Dunson becomes irate and they need to press on, Matt takes the reigns and leads on. Even by repelling the Indian attack on the stagecoach, he shows that he is an alpha male because he acts upon instinct rather than thought. He steps in to fill the void of the missing cowboy with his own version of the alpha male cowboy.