Rio Bravo (1959)
November 13, 2020 8:02 AM - Subscribe

The sheriff of a small town in southwest Texas must keep custody of a murderer whose brother, a powerful rancher, is trying to help him escape. After a friend is killed trying to muster support for him, he and his deputies - a disgraced drunk and a cantankerous old cripple - must find a way to hold out against the rancher's hired guns until the marshal arrives. In the meantime, matters are complicated by the presence of a young gunslinger - and a mysterious beauty who just came in on the last stagecoach.

Rio Bravo is a 1959 American Western film produced and directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, and Ward Bond. Written by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, based on the short story "Rio Bravo" by B. H. McCampbell, the film is about the sheriff of the town of Rio Bravo, Texas, who arrests the brother of a powerful local rancher for murder and then must hold the man in jail until the arrival of the United States Marshall. With the help of a "cripple", a drunk and a young gunfighter, they hold off the rancher's gang. Rio Bravo was filmed on location at Old Tucson Studios outside Tucson, Arizona, in Technicolor. -- wikipedia

John Wayne and Howard Hawks make a Western classic.
"To watch "Rio Bravo" is to see a master craftsman at work. The film is seamless. There is not a shot that is wrong. It is uncommonly absorbing, and the 141-minute running time flows past like running water. It contains one of John Wayne’s best performances. It has surprisingly warm romantic chemistry between Wayne and Angie Dickinson. Dean Martin is touching. Ricky Nelson, then a rival of Elvis’ and with a pompadour that would have been laughed out of the Old West, improbably works in the role of a kid gunslinger. Old Walter Brennan, as the peg-legged deputy, provides comic support that never oversteps." -- Roger Ebert

Rio Bravo - Dean Martin & Ricky Nelson & Walter Brennan perform music in a western -- youtube

Rio Bravo (1959): Howard Hawks’ “Response” to High Noon
"Hawks, who disliked High Noon, famously said: “I didn’t think a good sheriff was going to go running around town like a chicken with his head off asking for help, and finally his Quaker wife had to save him.” Thus, Rio Bravo is often considered to be Hawks’ and star John Wayne’s cinematic response to Fred Zinnemann’s 1952 frontier allegory." -- Movie Fanfare

Actress Angie Dickinson reflects on Rio Bravo, the Duke and a well-spent career. -- CultureMap Austin

Rio Bravo (1959) Official Trailer
posted by valkane (9 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've seen this movie many times, either on the VHS cassette I own or on channels like TCM. It never gets old. Dean Martin is really good in this movie. It is one of the roles that got his acting career on solid footing after doing comedy for so long with Jerry Lewis. It definitely shows his acting chops. Ricky Nelson is looked down upon in some reviews, but I like his character in this movie. Usually young kids are quick to go to the gun and need a lot of mentoring by the older hands, but Ricky's Colorado knows both how and when to use his gun. Walter Brennan is great. He ought to be, having previously won three Oscars. Angie Dickinson is fine as the cardsharp lady who falls for the sheriff. And a shout out goes to the two villain brothers, Burdette and his brother Joe who is in jail most of the movie. They are both villainous and Burdette is properly menacing.

And of course there is the Duke, John Wayne himself. Rio Bravo is a quintessential John Wayne movie. He is the force for good in his small town. He is handy with a rifle. He wears the outfit most of his characters wear (funny how he never changes clothes from movie to movie). And he is completely convincing in the role because he is playing John Wayne.
posted by Fukiyama at 9:15 AM on November 13 [4 favorites]


fun fact: John Wayne used the same pistol in all of his movies. (Is it real, I dunno, but that's what I heard.)
posted by valkane at 9:54 AM on November 13


This movie is good. I really enjoy the song of my rifle, my pony and me. I know it was made in response to High Noon, another amazing movie, but I think they both work, and don't need to be exclusionary.
posted by Carillon at 10:18 AM on November 13 [3 favorites]


Bo Catlett : Only this time it ain't no John Wayne and Dean Martin shooting bad guys in "El Dorado."
Chili Palmer : That was "Rio Bravo." Robert Mitchum played the drunk in "El Dorado." Dean Martin played the drunk in "Rio Bravo." Basically, it was the same part. Now John Wayne, he did the same in both. He played John Wayne.
Bo Catlett : Man, I can't wait for you to be dead.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:50 AM on November 13 [5 favorites]


This is a fantastic film. I actually saw it after seeing the original Assault on Precinct 13 and having a friend tell me that was basically a riff on this, which it is.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:15 PM on November 13


Weirdly I just watched this for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It's such an odd movie. It's so confined to a small area and the performances are so stylized that it almost feels like a stage play.
posted by octothorpe at 10:40 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the quote ActingTheGoat, I remembered it but couldn't place the movie.
posted by Marky at 12:35 AM on November 15 [1 favorite]


This is one of those cases where I read Ebert and wonder if I saw the same movie. The 141 minutes didn't flow for me.. The opening scene was interesting, but it got into a rut quickly and stayed there the whole rest of the way.

The sticking point for me probably was I couldn't endure the Disneyish 50ish "romance" between Chance and Feathers, the kind where the guy is stoic and the woman is sweet on him for no discernible reason, and she ties herself into silly knots and gets bruised up throwing herself at him over and over. And there's SO MANY scenes of it, and they are precipitated by, like, Chance has to get some tobacco and, *sigh*, he's in conversation range again, so I guess there's gonna be another round of this crap.

My dissatisfaction probably radiated out from there. Like, we all knew she wasn't going to get on the stagecoach, movie, just get on with it. But this movie doesn't get on with it, it doesn't get one with anything. It's not in any hurry at all, and there's nothing to get excited about. Is the final shootout dangerous? Oh, not really. Is it exciting? Well there's some dynamite. Does it blow up in cool ways? Nah, it's just an amusing thing to take some potshots at. It's all like that.

It's like slice of life but, heavily steeped ultra-deep in genre unreality. It's kinda weird, but, also, not the slightest bit weird.

I definitely don't have the appreciation muscles for this. And to be fair, it's the first John Wayne movie I've seen start to finish.
posted by fleacircus at 6:04 PM on November 15


Like, we all knew she wasn't going to get on the stagecoach, movie, just get on with it. But this movie doesn't get on with it, it doesn't get one with anything.

The thing is, that's kind of the point of it all. Tarantino once used the phrase "Hangout Movie" to describe it, which it is exactly that. And while some movies have characters and plot in motion to propel the movie along, it's established that our characters have to wait in the jail for the time being, so it becomes a literal "hangout". And, of course, if you don't take to the characters to being with, it just won't work for you.

And it's the kind of old Hollywood crowd pleaser where tension doesn't really factor in all that much. These are just our friends having fun. Carpenter would inject the tension into the story (and then some) with "Assault on Precinct 13".
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 1:10 PM on November 17 [1 favorite]


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