HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Chasing the Dragon
Into the Forest
Limehouse Golem, The
Frankenstein '80
Good Time
Bucket of Blood, A
Detroit
Hide and Seek
What Happened to Monday
River Wild, The
Veteran
Slumber Party '57
Juliette, or Key of Dreams
Summertime Killer
Sweet Virginia
Ben & Arthur
Your Name
Red Hot Shot, The
New World
Trick Baby
Weapons of Death
Second Best Secret Agent in the Whole Wide World, The
Kills on Wheels
Strait-Jacket
This Man is Dangerous
Burning Paradise
Away
Mistress of the Apes
Incredible Paris Incident
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
   
 
Newest Articles
Apocalypse 80s UK: Threads and When the Wind Blows
Movie Flop to Triumphant TV Revival: Twin Peaks and The League of Gentlemen
Driving Force: The Golden Age of American Car Chases
Madness in his Method: Jim Carrey and Andy Kaufman
Music, Love and Flowers: Monterey Pop on Blu-ray
The Melville Mood: His Final Two Films on The Melville Collection Blu-ray
Always Agnès: 3 from The Varda Collection Blu-ray
Re: Possession of Vehicles - Killer Cars, Trucks and a Vampire Motorcycle
The Whicker Kicker: Whicker's World Vols 5&6 on DVD
The Empress, the Mermaid and the Princess Bride: Three 80s Fantasy Movies
   
 
  Rio Lobo Call it Rio Bravo reloaded part deuxBuy this film here.
Year: 1970
Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: John Wayne, Jorge Rivero, Jennifer O’Neill, Christopher Mitchum, Jack Elam, Mike Henry, Sherry Lansing, Bill Williams, Robert Donner, Victor French, Susan Dosamantes
Genre: Western
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Following the box-office success of El Dorado (1967), Hollywood great Howard Hawks reworked the Rio Bravo (1959) scenario once more for his final film, Rio Lobo. During the American civil war, Colonel Cord McNally (John Wayne) - now, there’s a name for a wild west hero! - loses a close friend when Confederate troops led by Pierre Cordona (Jorge Rivero) and Tuscarora Phillips (Christopher Mitchum) hijack a Union Army payroll train. McNally apprehends Pierre and Tuscarora, but bears them no malice once the war is over. The men he wants are the traitors responsible for his friend’s death. Tracked down, the first miscreant “Whitey” (Robert Donner) ambushes McNally, but is shot dead by the feisty Shasta Delaney (Jennifer O’Neill). Thereafter, she tags along, together with Cordona (whose major contribution is repeated attempts to get Shasta in the sack), as they reach the dusty, Texan town of Rio Lobo. Here, McNally discovers the second traitor, Ike Gorman (Victor French) and monstrous Sheriff “Blue Tom” Hendricks (Mike Henry) are bullying ranchers off their land, and enlists Tuscarora, a grizzled rancher (Jack Elam), and beautiful, vengeance-driven Amelita (Sherry Lansing - future head of Paramount Studios!) for the big showdown.

As a last hurrah, Rio Lobo bests John Ford’s Seven Women (1966), but is definitely Hawks’ least distinguished western. The film seemed to be screened almost once a week when this writer was a kid, so I look upon it more fondly than most. The opening raid on the payroll train is brilliantly staged (featuring inspired use of a hornet’s nest), John Wayne swaggers masterfully, with his True Grit (1969) Oscar in his back pocket, Jerry Goldsmith supplies a haunting score, while William H. Clothier’s photography lends a dusky beauty to the saddle-worn tale. However, there is no denying the third act retread of Rio Bravo’s siege storyline is lazy and uninspired. Hawks had simply run out of fresh ways to spin his familiar fable, while fun additions like Jack Elam’s bug-eyed loon and avenging angel Amelita arrive abruptly and too late in the game.

Making the journey much harder to endure are torturously awful performances from Jorge Rivero and Christopher Mitchum, son of Wayne’s iconic El Dorado co-star, Robert Mitchum. These two ride through the movie doing reasonable impersonations of deadwood, while comic, romantic and action scenes collapse in their wake. Mitchum upped his game for Euro-cult oddities like Summertime Killer (1971) and Rico the Mean Machine (1975), but Argentinean born Jorge Rivero maintained his plank-like demeanour throughout a string of Spanish and Italian exploitation movies. Most memorably as a kung fu caveman with biro all over his face in Lucio Fulci’s Conquest (1983). At least Mike Henry doesn’t let the side down as the thoroughly brutish Hendricks who scars Amelita’s pretty face out of sheer spite. Hawks brings a harsher edge to action scenes this time round, oddly focused upon character’s faces as they’re stung, bruised, slashed and blinded by guns backfiring. It doesn’t spoil the jaunty, amiable, Hawksian tone, yet it’s faintly disconcerting watching the Duke beat Victor French - TV’s lovable oaf from Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven - to a bloody pulp.

Rio Lobo was a modest financial success, yet disappointed Hawks acolytes who yearned for one last masterpiece from the great auteur. In interviews, Hawks rather ungallantly blamed all Rio Lobo’s woes on Jennifer O’Neill, whom he felt was miscast. Hard to see why. While awkward in parts, O’Neill is gutsy and appealing as a typically Hawksian dame, able to swing a shotgun or drive men to distraction with her shapely legs. Yet O’Neill is put in the shade by scorching Sherry Lansing, whose sultry senorita repeatedly puts her life on the line, blasts bad guys with aplomb, and strips off for a chaste, though welcome, partial-nude scene. Loving (1970) and Rio Lobo were Lansing’s only film appearances before she grew fascinated with the production side of movie making, went back to college and eventually became the first female CEO of a major Hollywood studio. People make a big deal about Robert Evans, but it was Lansing who steered Paramount through a run of popular hits from the late seventies to the late nineties.

John Wayne shares such a relaxed, amiable screen chemistry with Lansing and O’Neill, the film sparks back to life whenever they’re together. If Hawks really wanted a radical reinterpretation of Rio Bravo, maybe he could have cast the Duke opposite two female gunslingers, with Lansing and O’Neill in the Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson roles. Or was asking too much?

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 6682 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Who's the best?
Robin Askwith
Mark Wahlberg
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
Paul Shrimpton
  Rachel Franke
Jason Cook
Darren Jones
Keith Rockmael
   

 

Last Updated: