HOME |  JOIN |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
20th Century Women
Monster Trucks
Lookout, The
Black Belt
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Their Finest
Stella Cadente
Water Drops on Burning Rocks
Replace
Belladonna of Sadness
Aquarius
Erik the Conqueror
Baghead
Guns at Batasi
Gang Story, A
Magnificent Ambersons, The
Climber, The
It's a Big Country
Raw
Last Man Standing
Transfiguration, The
Alien Nation
Kajaki
Certain Fury
Life
Hundra
Wonder Woman
Francesca
Jimi Plays Berkeley
Berlin Syndrome
   
 
Newest Articles
Two Sides of Sellers: The Party vs The Optimists
Norse Code: The Vikings vs The Long Ships
Over the Moon - Space: 1999 The Complete Series on Blu-ray Part 2
Alpha Males and Females - Space: 1999 The Complete Series on Blu-ray Part 1
Animated Anxieties: From the Era of the Creepiest Cartoons
Manor On Movies--Clegg (1970)
Plans for Nigel: The Crunch... and Other Stories on DVD
Let's Get Harry: Repo Man and Paris, Texas
Shut Up, Crime! The Punisher at the Movies
Thunderbollocks: The Golden Age of Bond Rip-Offs
   
 
  Rio Bravo A man's gotta do what a man's gotta doBuy this film here.
Year: 1959
Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond, John Russell, Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez, Estelita Rodriguez, Claude Akins, Malcolm Atterbury
Genre: Western
Rating:  9 (from 2 votes)
Review: Stumbling into a saloon, drunken lawman Dude (Dean Martin) is humiliated by local troublemaker Joe Burdette (Claude Akins). Amidst the ensuing chaos, Dude's stalwart friend, rugged Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) steps in to arrest Joe for killing an innocent bystander. It is a ballsy move given Joe's brother, Nathan Burdette (John Russell) is a powerful rancher who all but owns this town. With Joe holed up at the jail house guarded by cackling, crippled old deputy Stumpy (Walter Brennan), Chance tries to sober up Dude as they prepare for the inevitable siege. He finds an ally in Colorado (Ricky Nelson), a resourceful young cowboy fast with a gun, and sparks a romance with Feathers (Angie Dickinson), a shady but sexy gambler who is new in town. Together this brave but outnumbered bunch face down Burdette and his army of gunmen.

One of the greatest westerns of all time was actually made in response to another milestone in the genre: High Noon (1952). Both legendary producer-director Howard Hawks and star John Wayne took issue with High Noon's story about a sheriff forced to face a band of outlaws alone when his pleas for help go ignored by the townspeople. Wayne went so far as to denounce the film as “un-American” though later recanted when he presented Gary Cooper with the Oscar for Best Actor remarking he wished he could find a script that good. Perhaps because of this origin Rio Bravo is too often mistakenly thought of as some kind of reactionary riposte to the liberal values espoused in Fred Zinnemann's seminal western when it is actually an equally thoughtful, measured, articulate and poetic work.

In High Noon a crisis fractures a community exposing flaws in the American social system. In Rio Bravo a crisis pulls people together driving them to overcome problems both personal (Dude's alcoholism) and social (Burdett's stranglehold on the town). Both films offer valid points of view and while Hawks unabashedly celebrates the values of the mythic American West, he does so with a study of grace under pressure. Perhaps more than any other John Wayne western this one encapsulates those famous words: “A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.” A master of the action movie-as-character-study Hawks spins a story that is deceptively simple yet intricately constructed. Screenwriters Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett track several plot strands lending equal weight to the siege angle, male bonding (as Chance helps Dude recover his dignity and self-worth), revenge sub-plot (Colorado joins in response to the killing of paternal trail boss Pat Wheeler (Ward Bond)) and love story.

The characters are especially vivid and inhabited by an outstanding cast save for weak link Ricky Nelson. Hawks' original choice Elvis Presley pulled out at the insistence of serial career hobbler Colonel Tom Parker opting to do Flaming Star (1960) instead. Nelson looks like a kid playing cowboy. Look closely and you will notice Hawks carefully coached him through several moves and gestures to disguise his shortcomings. Nevertheless he comes alive during the musical sequences. As with earlier dramatic performances in The Young Lions (1958) and Some Came Running (1958), Rio Bravo proved Dean Martin could handle difficult roles without falling back on his crooner's charisma. Still Hawks was smart enough to know audiences would want to see Martin perform a duet with Ricky Nelson. Although superfluous to the plot it is a wholly delightful scene.

Hawks was constantly adding scenes and encouraged improvisation on the set, something that expanded and added further authenticity to the characters' relationships. Nevertheless the bedrock of the movie was the outstanding script. The sparkling dialogue was likely down to Brackett, Hawks' favourite screenwriter, who had a parallel career as the author of several pulp sci-fi novels. She later co-wrote The Empire Strikes Back (1980). Her touch is particularly evident in the banter between the Duke's taciturn lawman and Angie Dickinson's flirty, feisty showgirl. Though Wayne towers over proceedings with his trademark swagger, then relative newcomer the lovely Dickinson holds her own against the veteran ensemble as one of Hawks' most winning heroines. It is worth noting that whereas in High Noon Grace Kelly shrugs off shooting someone, here Feathers is left deeply shaken after contributing to the death of three men even if she did it to save Chance's life.

Elsewhere, Hawks' subtle yet propulsive direction is evident right from the powerful but wordless opening sequence which is like a scene from an old silent era two-reel western given psychological depth, taut suspense sequences where Chance and Dude patrol the winding streets after dark and more lighthearted banter between contrasted heroes. Wayne and Martin were so effective together they re-teamed in Henry Hathaway's inferior, though oddly popular The Sons of Katie Elder (1966) while Hawks recycled the plot for the delightful El Dorado (1967) and less successful Rio Lobo (1970). John Carpenter famously lifted several motifs from here for Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), the first of his many overt tributes to Howard Hawks, though Rio Bravo has gone on to influence countless other action movies.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1213 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


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
Ian Phillips
Jensen Breck
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Stately Wayne Manor
Paul Shrimpton
  Vikki Sanderson
   

 

Last Updated: