Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Rio Bravo

A collaboration between John Wayne and director Howard Hawks, 1959's Rio Bravo features Wayne as an Old West sheriff with the unlikely allies of a former gunslinger turned town drunk (Dean Martin), a crippled old man (Walter Brennan) who never shuts up, and a young hot shot (Ricky Nelson) who together attempt to keep a prisoner (Claude Akins) locked up in the town jail until the local U.S. Marshal can arrive.

Trouble come a calling from the prisoner's brother, a powerful local rancher (John Russell), and his supply of mercenary goons who, after being unable to either reason or scare the sheriff into releasing his prisoner, attempt several jail breaks. The cast is rounded out with the inclusion of Angie Dickinson providing the film's love interest as a traveling gambler with a complicated past who catches the sheriff's eye, often driving him crazy.

Created as Hawkes and Wayne's response to what they saw as a cowardly sheriff in High Noon (which, I'm sorry, is a better film), the film is notable for playing to more expected versions of the archetypes, Martin and Nelson singing "My Rifle, My Pony, and Me" in the lull heading into one of the film's shoot-outs, and Dimitri Tiomkin's score featuring the "El Deg├╝ello" theme used throughout the film. Rio Bravo works on several levels including the comradery between Wayne and Martin with the sheriff's tough love on the friend he's unwilling to give up on, the flirtatious back and forth between our gambler and lawman, the unexpected humor, and the film's numerous action sequences.

Rio Bravo is your classic western that provides the same level of enjoyment as it did more than 60 years ago. Hawkes liked the film so much he'd make two more versions of the same basic story with Rio Lobo and El Dorado. Different versions of the basic plot has also been used for several other films over the years since including John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13, and, of course, Blazing Saddles. The new 4K edition features an enhanced transfer of the film but lacks the extras included on previous editions of the film other than the audio commentary.

  • Title: Rio Bravo
  • IMDb: link

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