Rio Bravo (1959) Poster


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The real bullettime
michaelwood9 June 2003
It says much about current cinema that this vintage slice of Hollywood is now considered too long and too slow by the modern generation of movie goers. Howard Hawks labours to create setting, mood and pace introducing genuine characters are colourful for the flaws they have as their positive points presenting heroes one can empathise with, people with three dimensions, not thin caricatures that popular many of today's movies.

No character empathises this more than Dean Martin's broken down drunk Dude. Nicknamed "Borachon" by the Mexicans (Borachon is Spanish for "Drunkard") Dude battles with the demons that drove him to drink as he desperately tried not to let down Sheriff Chance, John Wayne, who believes in him more than he believes in himself. Dude's pouring back of a glass of bourbon into the bottle is one of the most life affirming scenes ever committed to film.

Wayne never really does anything other than play John Wayne and Hawks spins on this playing with the ethos of the man. The same steadfast values that mean Wayne's Sheriff John T. Chance will not release the prisoner Joe Burdette back to his murderous gang leave him stiff and awkward in front of Angie Dickinson's love interest "Feathers" creating perhaps the quintessential John Wayne movie in which the Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett's screenplay explores the depths of the ideals that Wayne stands for. This is a movie about not just about redemption, but about the reasons for a tough redemption in a World in which collapse and lawlessness are easier options.

And when Dude pours his Bourbon back, affirming that even though he cannot be the man he was but he can still be a good man, you will not be wishing it was film in bullettime.
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A beautifully controlled Western with a great score…
Nazi_Fighter_David30 July 2001
Warning: Spoilers
For many, Hawks' 'Rio Bravo' is the perfect Western... For me it is the antithesis of 'High Noon,' and the clearest exposition of Hawks' philosophy of professionalism... His tough lawman solves his own problem without going out looking for help... So he welcomes volunteers and in fact depends on them... What is more, he wins by displaying superior skills and quicker wits...

The survivors in Hawks' philosophy are the ones who conduct themselves with the greatest degree of coolness and discipline... It is not difficult to appreciate why Hawks has used substantially the 'Rio Bravo' plot, with only minor variations in both his subsequent Westerns, 'El Dorado' and 'Rio Lobo.'

In Fred Zinneman's 'High Noon,' Gary Cooper struggles to round up a posse that might help him deal with four desperadoes arriving on a noon train to kill him... In "Rio Bravo," John Wayne is faced with a similar situation but takes on the forces of evil in the shape of a gang of local tyrants...

Wayne always makes us feel that somehow he'll cope... So when the wagon master Ward Bond asks him if he wants to use any of his men as deputies in fighting Burdette's men, he turns down the offer... Wayne, holding a brutish prisoner Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) on a murder charge, waits for the U.S. marshal to take charge of him... But the prisoner's powerful brother Nathan (John Russell) wants him free and is determined to release him by any method possible...

The obvious method is the traditional one—hired gunmen—and, in effect, the sheriff becomes a prisoner himself, in his own town… But in this instance the lawman is not absolutely without help... The two deputies are a semi-crippled veteran (Walter Brennan) and a pretty hopeless drunk with a past 'fast' reputation (Dean Martin).

But the whole point about this cleverly conceived movie is that this unlikely trio do in fact have something to offer when the cards are dealt... Like the sheriff, they're professional people, and what Hawks seems to be saying is that whatever the odds, such people will always have the courage, and the deeds... This is demonstrated in one inspired sequence which has become a classic: Dean Martin – drying out and eager to win back his self-respect – tells Chance that he wants to be the one who chase the killer into a saloon, and that Chance should assume the less dangerous role of backing him up from the back door...

'Rio Bravo' is a beautifully controlled film... John Wayne, who re-created and heightened the mythology of the West, is at his best...

John Ford imitates Howard Hawks' tendency for having his male characters never back down from a fight even when it means they are initiating the fight themselves... In Rio Bravo's famous wordless opening, villain Claude Akins throws a silver dollar into a spittoon, daring Dude, so desperate for a drink, to humiliate himself, and get the coin... Hawks' clever camera emphasizes how far beneath the standards Dude has fallen... Now Wayne is ready to confront Akins...

The same scene in Ford's 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.' Lee Marvin trips unarmed James Stewart as he carries a steak dinner to Wayne in the restaurant where he works... He stumbles and the steak falls to the ground... Stewart has been obviously humiliated... Suddenly Wayne enters the frame, and orders Valance to peak up 'his' steak, revealing his gun belt as he faces him... He is ready for the showdown...

In 'Rio Bravo,' Hawks' men win out primarily because they fight together... But Hawks helps them by having the outlaws mistakenly play a Mexican tune called 'cutthroat,' a song which Santa Anna tried to intimidate the Texans under siege in the Alamo... As the music plays, we see Dude putting down his glass untouched... He observes that his hands no longer shake...

In Hawks' 'Rio Bravo' there is tenderness, and humor... In Hawks' film, a man is defined by how well he relates to women, how well he handles pressure and how he reacts to danger... Angie Dickinson playing the gambling gal, enriches the mixture with a nicely judged performance...

'Rio Bravo' is an action Western, which captures a legendary West that fits the legendary talents of Wayne and Hawks... But what makes the film so special is the relationship between the individual characters... It is a traditional, straightforward Western, good-humored and exciting, rich in original touches...

The best moment of the film when Martin and Nelson join each other for some singing and guitar picking, and Walter Brennan joins in with his harmonica and his scratchy voice... The film has a terrific score by one of the great film composers Dimitri Tiomkin...
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Hawks' last masterpiece
Joseph Harder16 April 1999
Disregarded at the time of its release, and still underrated by many critics, Rio Bavo is finally coming into its own as a masterpiece. One reason that it has been underrated is that,it does not seem a typical western for the fifties. Most of the great westerns of the period were darker and moodier. Witness for example, the great films of Boetticher and Anthony Mann, or-the supreme example-The Searchers.Others were 'revisionist' and often sought to convey a socially conscious "teaching'- High Noon is the paradigm here. In contrast, Rio Bravo is unashamedly reactionary. Hawks actually claimed to have made the film as a reply to High Noon..In addition, there are very few pyschological or moral ambiguities here. Instead, we get a classic Hawksian scenario, also found in Only Angels Have Wings and To Have and Have Not. . in which a groups of misfits and outsiders bands together to defeat evil. Here we have John Wayne- offering a performance of considerable subtlety and self knowledge- as the valiant, yet limited, patriarchal hero, John T. Chance. To save the day, he calls on a cast of standard Western characters:The old-timer( Brennan), the reformed drunk( Martin), The "kid'( Nelson), and the "hooker with a heart of gold( Dickinson).Thanks to Hawks' assured, efficient, direction,All of these actors transcend the stereotypes usually associated with such characters to deliver fine performances which are simultaneously "realistic' and archtypal. Particularly worthy of notice is Dean Martin. John Carpenter once claimed that the scene of Martin's "redemption" was the greatest moment in all of cinema. That may be an exaggeration, but Carpenter has a point. It is both moving and unforgettable.In short, Rio Bravo is a triumph for Howard Hawks and his seemingly artless art.
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Western Tai Chi
Brandt Sponseller6 February 2005
When Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) murders a man on a whim, Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) arrests him and puts him in small Texas town's jail. The problem is that the U.S. Marshall is a week away from taking Burdette off his hands, and Burdette's brother, Nathan (John Russell), won't see his brother put away. Complicating the situation even further, Burdette is rich enough to hire a score of thugs, and the only support that Chance has is from a drunk, Dude (Dean Martin), and an elderly crippled man, Stumpy (Walter Brennan).

Rio Bravo is a sprawling pressure cooker. For anyone not used to the pacing of older films, this is not the best place to begin. Uninitiated audiences are likely to find it boring--the plot is relatively simple, and they would likely have a difficult time remaining with Rio Bravo for its 2 hour and 21 minute running time. It's best to wait until one is acclimated to this kind of pacing, so as not to spoil the experience. The film is well worth it.

John Wayne was an enthralling paradox, and maybe no film better demonstrates why than Rio Bravo. He had almost delicate "pretty boy" looks and a graceful gait that were an odd contrast to his hulking height and status as the "action hero" of his day. He speaks little, and doesn't need to, although he is the star and thus the center of attention. He tends to have an odd smirk on his face. Wayne's performance here interestingly parallels the pacing and tenor of the film--that's not something that one sees very often, or at least it's not something that's very easy to make conspicuous.

And he's not the only charismatic cast member. Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Walter Brennan and Angie Dickinson are equally captivating. Even when the full blow-out action sequence begins (and that's not until about two hours into the film, although there are a few great shorter action scenes before that), the focus here is still on the interrelationships between these characters, with Brennan the continually funny comic foil, Nelson the suave, skilled youngster, Martin the complex and troubled but likable complement to Wayne, and Dickinson as the sexy, forward and clever love interest.

Director Howard Hawks seems to do everything right. He guides cinematographer Russell Harlan in capturing subtly beautiful scenery--like the mountains in the distance over the tops of some buildings, and a great sunrise shot--and asks for an atmospheric score (such as the repeated playing of Malaguena by a band in the background) that shows that plot points weren't the only element of the film that influenced John Carpenter (who partially based his Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) on this film). But most intriguing is probably Hawks' staging/blocking. You could easily make a study of just that aspect of the film. The characters are always placed in interesting places in the frame, and they're constantly moving in interesting ways throughout the small collection of buildings and streets that make up the town. There is almost a kind of performance art aspect to it. Wayne, for instance, repeatedly touches base at the jail, then picks up his rifle, circles around to the hotel and back, almost as if he's doing some kind of western Tai Chi.

Rio Bravo is nothing if not understated, and as such, it may take some adjustments from modern, especially younger, viewers. But it's a gem of a film, and worth watching and studying.
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Classic John Wayne Western
SnoopyStyle24 December 2013
Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) is holding Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) for killing an unarmed man. Only Joe's brother Nathan (John Russell) wants Joe freed, and he'll use everything in his powers. The only hope Chance has is a drunk (Dean Martin), a kid (Ricky Nelson), and ol' Stumpy (Walter Brennan).

This is classic John Wayne at his finest. He is the great gunslinger facing insurmountable odds who takes on the bad guys with his brains, his determination, and his skills. Directed by Howard Hawks, this is just a great old fashion western. They even have Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson sing-along. Angie Dickinson plays the romantic lead. Sure, it is cliché. The good guys always win in the end. But there's nothing wrong with that.
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"You Can Do Just About Anything You Want To, Chance."
bkoganbing1 August 2006
Howard Hawks initially wanted to reunite John Wayne and Montgomery Clift who had worked so well together in Red River in his second film with Wayne. Clift however was at the beginning of the slide that would ultimately destroy him in seven years and said no. It was then that Dean Martin was cast as John Wayne's alcoholic deputy.

By the way if Clift had done the part it would have reunited him with Walter Brennan also who is playing a very similar part to the one he did in Red River in relation to Wayne.

In the wordless beginning of Rio Bravo, Wayne while going into the town saloon to fetch Dino, witnesses a cold blooded killing perpetrated by Claude Akins. Akins is the no good brother of rich rancher John Russell who keeps trying to spring Akins from Wayne's jail. He also brings in some hired guns who bottle the town up.

Both Howard Hawks and John Wayne absolutely hated High Noon and made Rio Bravo as their answer to it. This sheriff doesn't go around begging for help from the townspeople he's sworn to protect. He's supposed to be good enough to handle the job himself with some help from only a few good men.

Dean Martin said that the Rio Bravo role for him was one of the most difficult. At that time he was playing a drunk on stage and was not yet into the substance abuse problems that beset him later on. But turns in a stellar performance.

This film marked the farewell feature film performance of Ward Bond who took some time from his Wagon Train TV series to play the small role of a Wayne friend who offers to help and gets killed for his trouble. Fitting it should be in the starring film of his best friend John Wayne.

The only bad note in Rio Bravo is that of Ricky Nelson who is too much the nice kid from Ozzie and Harriet to suggest being a young gun. But Rio Bravo marked the first of many films Wayne used a current teenage idol to insure box office. Later on Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Vinton all the way down to Ron Howard in The Shootist brought a younger audience in for the Duke.

James Caan who played the Ricky Nelson part in El Dorado was much superior to Nelson. Then again, Caan is an actor. But I will say that Dean and Ricky sung real pretty.

When you hear Dean singing My Rifle, Pony, and Me in the jailhouse, you might recognize the same melody from Red River as Settle Down. Dimitri Tiomkin wrote it and Dean recorded it as well as the title song for Capitol records. At Capitol Dino did mostly ersatz Italian ballads, it was what he was identified with. When he switched to Reprise, Dino started doing far more country and western and it really starts with the songs he did in Rio Bravo.

Rio Bravo is a leisurely paced western, probably one of the slowest John Wayne ever did. But Howard Hawks created some characters and a story that hold the interest through out.
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This movie has all the elements of the quintessential Western.
dnwalker9 December 1999
The story itself is a composite of all the elements needed to make a great Western: good guys in white hats, bad guys in black hats, townspeople content to stand aside and to let the battle be fought between the outlaws and the man with the tin star, a beautiful woman to distract the hero and finally help him when the chips are down.

The main stars, John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Angie Dickinson all turn in the top-notch performances one would expect from them, and Rick Nelson is a very pleasant surprise as Colorado. It's two others that separate this movie from other Westerns, though.

Pedro Gonzales-Gonzales, as Carlos the hotel-keeper, is a breath of fresh air. His interplay with John Wayne's John T. Chance adds a touch of human reality to the movie that sets it apart.

Walter Brennan in his role as Stumpy, however, is the glue that holds the whole thing together and makes it work. His constant griping under his breath, his goading of Wayne, his dialogue with the prisoner and his general comic relief set Rio Bravo apart from any other Western and put it in a class of its own. Keenan Wynn in Eldorado doesn't even come close.
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The traditional western that all others are judged by
gibby8561 June 2004
It is my pleasure to make comments on Rio Bravo, considering all the hype that already has been written about it. True, it is not socially redeeming, nor does it make a political statement, it's just darn fun, i.e. entertaining. What's wrong with that? I couldn't care less if it is a redemption by Hawks for "High Noon"! I know one thing is for certain, when you watch John Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, and the rest of the cast, you can tell that they had a really good time making the film, this, I believe is plain to see. Add a top notch script and very fine acting, good scenery, a love angle, and enough action to satisfy, and it adds up to a classic movie no matter how you judge it. 10 for 10.
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Howard Hawks could perhaps have learned something from "High Noon"
James Hitchcock16 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Rio Bravo" is sometimes described as a right-wing riposte to Fred Zinnemann's "High Noon". I am not sure why "High Noon" needed a right-wing riposte, because it has never seemed to me to be particularly left-wing. On a literal level it deals with a subject- the need for a strong stance on law and order- which has always been dear to the hearts of conservatives, and on a metaphorical level it would be just as easy to read a right-wing meaning into it as it would a left-wing one. (Given that the film was made during the Korean War, it would be easy to see Sheriff Kane as a symbol of America as the world's policeman, Frank Miller and his gang as Stalin, Mao and the other Communist leaders and the cowardly townspeople as the anti-war movement in the West). The received idea that the film is an allegory for McCarthyism has always struck me as a strained interpretation.

It would appear, however, that what angered Howard Hawks and John Wayne about "High Noon" was not so much Zinnemann's views on McCarthyism but rather his implication that the citizens of Hadleyville are cowards for refusing to help Kane. This seems to have inspired the most direct reference to the earlier film in "Rio Bravo". When it is suggested to John Wayne's Sheriff John T. Chance that he should round up a posse, he replies that asking amateurs to help him fight hardened professional gunmen would only give the villains more targets to shoot at. The inference is that Gary Cooper's character was wrong to ask the townsfolk to risk their lives on his behalf.

The two films are, in fact, broadly similar in plot. Both concern a courageous and incorruptible Sheriff taking on a gang of dangerous villains who are threatening the peace of a whole community. (This basic plot was used in numerous other Westerns, such as "Dodge City" and "Gunfight at the OK Corral"). In "Rio Bravo" Chance has arrested a local hoodlum named Joe Burdette on suspicion of murder. Burdette's brother Nathan, a wealthy rancher, organises a gang of gunfighters to try and free him from the jail. Chance has to try and hold off the thugs for several days until the US Marshal arrives to take Joe to stand trial.

His chances of doing so, however, seem slim, because his only assistance comes from his deputies, one of whom, Dude, is an alcoholic and the other, Stumpy, is a one-legged old man. (Was Dude the inspiration for Gene Wilder's character in "Blazing Saddles"?) Dude and Stumpy, however, find reserves of courage within themselves, and Chance recruits another volunteer, a young gunman named Colorado who has seen his boss murdered by the villains. "Rio Bravo", in fact, is not simply an action film, but also a character study. One of its themes is the way in which the characters battle to overcome their problems- Stumpy's disability, Dude's alcoholism and, in Colorado's case, his initial moral cowardice and reluctance to assist.

Colorado is played by Ricky Nelson, a teenage pop star of the period, who was brought in to try and attract a younger audience. He was, however, only seventeen when filming started, and seems far too young and callow for the role. If Chance was so concerned about avoiding innocent casualties, he would no doubt have sent such an inexperienced greenhorn back home to mother before the shooting started. Walter Brennan's Stumpy can seem a bit irritating, but with those exceptions the acting is mostly good. I am of the generation which always thinks of Angie Dickinson as the sexy older woman in "Police Woman", so this film gave me the opportunity to see what she looked like as a sexy younger woman. (Very nice too). Chance is the sort of role which John Wayne excelled in portraying, but the best performance came from Dean Martin as Dude, a man who finds redemption for his past misdeeds. There is also a good cameo from John Wayne's close friend Ward Bond as Pat Wheeler, Colorado's murdered boss.

The main difference between this film and "High Noon" is not one of politics but of style. "High Noon" is shot in real time and conveys an urgent sense of time rushing towards the final showdown; it also observes the Classical unity of action as well as that of time, with no digressions from the main plot. "Rio Bravo is much more leisurely and spacious, running to nearly 2½ hours. Besides the main action there is also a subplot detailing Chance's burgeoning romance with Dickinson's character, a female card-sharp and good-time girl named Feathers, and plenty of comic relief involving Carlos the Mexican barman (who closely resembles Manuel in "Fawlty Towers") and even Stumpy, who for all his bravery is often treated as a comic character. Of the two films, my preference is definitely for "High Noon". "Rio Bravo" never drags, as there is always something going on to hold one's interest, but it lacks the gripping pacing which makes "High Noon" one of the most thrilling films ever made. (In my view it is perhaps the greatest Western ever). Hawks may have disagreed with Zinnemann over politics, but he could perhaps have learned something from him about film-making. 7/10
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High Noon it's Not
jcohen11 March 2006
Well I finally got to see this flick after having seen the remake (El Dorado) many times and having reviewed it previously. I like this movie for what it is, but those who call it a classic western or put it in the same league as High Noon are sorely mistaken. Rio Bravo is essentially the Rat Pack out west but with the Duke filling in for Frank. The Duke is never really in danger or seriously hurt. Okay, he trips down the stairs. The movie lacks a compelling villain since Claude Akins (pre- Movin On) is in jail most of the time. Ed Asner & Chris George were a great pair in ElD. Rickie Nelson as the youngest Rat gets to sing a few tunes and keep his hair puffed. He looks about old enough to shave. Dean Martin isn't bad but can't touch Robert Mitchum's performance in El Dorado. I love Walter Brennan and he's great moanin & groanin and rantin & ravin. Put him and Arthur Hunicutt (Bull from El Dorado) in a cell together and that would be something. There is lot's of sexual tension here provided by Angie Dickinson, but I'm sorry I don't believe she'd radiate it for a guy that old. The Maudie character played by Charline Holt was a more credible and still sensual mate for the Duke. I give the nod to James Caan as Mississippi over the younger Rickie Nelson - Colorado.

If this was Hawks'/Waynes answer to High Noon than it's a weak reply. High Noon is a serious black & white look at a town's abandonment of it's sheriff who is in mortal danger. He's saddled with a wife and torn between staying and leaving. There's not a second of comedy in High Noon. John T Chance (Wayne) is a Lucky Chance with everybody he meets offering to help. This is not Western reality its Hollywood. Note that Sheb Wooley (High Noon) scenes in Rio Bravo were cut out.
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Involving and fascinating Western masterfully directed by Howard Hawks
ma-cortes5 January 2010
John Chance (John Wayne) is the marshal of a Texas border little town who imprisons gunslinger Joe (Claude Atkins) into jail for being brought to justice. But the Joe's brother is a corrupt baron land named Nathan(John Russell) . Then Chance takes on a blockade of gunfighters . He along with a cripple old(Walter Brennan ) are besieged and only helped by a drunk (Dean Martin) and a cocky youngster (Ricky Nelson)as hired hand . Meanwhile the tough Wayne falls in love with an enigmatic young (Angie Dickinson).

Action western, an agreeable love story, shoot-outs at regular intervals, and humor abounds in this magnificent film whose characters are splendidly portrayed. It packs larger-than-life characters, uproarious events and lively happenings. The Duke carries strong acting on his brawny shoulders and perfectly does. The picture is mainly lifted out by veteran Brennan's wonderfully acting as a half-crazed sympathetic old man , whose finger itches demoniacally on the trigger every time he gets a nasty guy in his sights. And of course, top-drawer Dean Martin with an unexpected excellent playing as alcoholic . Colorful Technicolor cinematography by Russell Harlan who adds much to the setting of this unique Western. Marvelous musical score by Dimitri Tiomkin including the Mexican ¨Degueyo¨, music played during ¨El Alamo¨ siege. This overlong, too much-acclaimed and very gripping Western will appeal to John Wayne fans. Rating : Above average, essential and indispensable Western , a masterpiece horse opera whose reputation has improved over the years.

It's followed by ¨El Dorado¨in similar style with a hot-headed James Caan as Mississipi who is a virtual retreat of the previous young sidekick named Colorado-Ricky Nelson. Howard Hawks also displays a number of similarities to the posterior ¨Rio Lobo¨ staring Wayne, Victor French, Jorge Rivero and again with an old short-tempered person played by Jack Elam. Furthermore, a semi-remake on modern times by John Carpenter was called ¨Assault on Precinct 13¨.
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Heavy handed, predictable western from the Hawks mold
Whythorne5 April 2010
A lot of people revere this western and that's fine. It's just another one of those that I throw into my "I don't get it" file, especially given the high rating here at IMDb. Director Hawks was a master of the obvious. His films rarely have any surprises and this is no exception. You know as soon as you see "Directed by Howard Hawks" during the credits that every good guy will survive the story. You know John Wayne's character is in about as much danger of not making it as, say, James Bond in a 007 flick.

Because of the lack of surprises, the story lacks any punch and is just another tepid bit of fluffy entertainment from the Howard Hawks mold...and he sure did like that mold. It's hard to keep this Western separate in my mind from "El Dorado" and "Rio Lobo," as they all follow the same formulaic character ensemble story. Heck, it's hard to separate this in my mind from "Hatari."

A couple of "Dont's" and "Dos": DON'T expect: anything subtle or nuanced, nice cinematography, in-depth character development or absorbing storyline. DO expect: hammy, over-the-top wooden acting, a complete lack of clever dialog, obvious plot lines, typical stage lighting and studio back lot sets.

It's occurs to me that "Rio Bravo" is to Westerns what "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad Mad World" is to comedies, and if that kind of broad and obvious treatment is your cup of sarsaparilla then you will no doubt savor this one.
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Excellent, Character Led Western
michaelgrantham20 September 2004
I had to comment on this as the only other comment said it was too long and too dull. I recorded it for my father, who is a western fan, and watched it with him and my wife.

The movie has charismatic performances from Wayne and especially Walter Brennan as the old deputy. He made us laugh out loud several times. True it isn't all action, but more about characters. Ricky Nelson did okay, no Oscars here but a competent enough piece of acting as a young, brash cowboy.

Angie Dickinson plays the love interest and boy was she gorgeous in those days! OK so the Duke was cracking on a bit for the young and lovely Angie to fall in love with him, but there wasn't much else in the town to fancy and some women like older men!

Very enjoyable Western. I gave it 8/10.
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Against Most opinions
ragosaal2 September 2006
I have read the user's comments about Rio Bravo. Frankly I can't understand how is it possible that most of them say this is a "Masterpiece" or "Hawk's Best" or "Great Movie" or "Still One of the Best" and a lot of similar opinions.

The story is rather interesting and could have done a great movie, but it has so many terrible flaws that turns into a B western (and that being generous). Lets see:

1) John Wayne is always John Wayne. He doesn't really act (except perhaps in his two best westerns "Stagecoach" and "The Shootist") both really good. 2) Sheriff John T. Chance looks always as if he knew the script is on his side and he'll come out well no matter what. 3) Ricky Nelson looks exactly like a comic magazine cowboy, totally out of place and surely someone told him about the happy ending too. And we also are forced to listen to his singing! 4) The movie is too long and with plenty of hard to believe sequences. 5) Most of all the final shooting that is really incredible and impossible. Wayne, Martin and Nelson engage in a shooting contest hitting small dynamite bars not only when static on the floor but moving rapidly through the air far from them. Wayne does it with a rifle (difficult enough) but Martin hits them with a six shooter without even aiming!! I can assure you also that dynamite bars don't blow off when hit by a bullet, a spark is always needed. The whole sequence is absolutely ridiculous, more proper of a "spaghetti" western and definitely sinks the film to the bottom.

My 4 points rank for Rio Bravo comes out of acceptable setting and good performances by Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan and Dean Martin (shortly after breaking his comedy partnership with Jerry Lewis). Fine music too. But that aside, nothing at all to match the great westerns of the 50's we enjoyed through the decade (High Noon, Shane, 3:10 to Yuma, Gunfight at OK Corral, The Gunfighter and so many others). In fact, I think Hawks himself realized the movie was really poor and spoiled, so he made "El Dorado" within a short period of time; though almost a remake of Rio Bravo and not a top western either El Dorado has not the terrible flaws and ridiculous sequences we saw in Rio Bravo and is a far better movie.

Don't you agree?
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Shoot-first-think-later classic
manuel-pestalozzi20 February 2006
So this was supposed to be the „real" spirit of the West as opposed to the one shown in High Noon? A fashion conscious sheriff who wears a red shirt on one day and a blue one the next (who does his laundry?). A drunkard and an old geezer as his helpers. A „funny" stereotype Mexican couple who run a hotel. A dance hall girl who has sort of a crush on the sheriff. A saloon keeper. And lots and lots of firearms and ammo. In the beginning there are quite a few people on the streets, later the town seems to be deserted except for the afore mentioned persons plus an unspecified amount of hired gunmen out to free an imprisoned murderer.

Where did all the people of the little town go? They just disappear without any trace. My guess is that there was much more gun action than shown on screen and that many a good citizen succumbed under the „friendly fire" of the forces of the law. John Wayne and his companions are nervous and extremely trigger happy, the sheriff's plan to hold out alone and wait for the Marshall to pass through the town does not seem to be dictated by common sense (there would have been alternatives) but by personal pride. There is no interaction whatsoever between him and the community he is supposed to serve. Frankly, the sheriff seems to be a pretty irresponsible guy with the mind of an adolescent – and responsibility was the main theme of High Noon, a film, it must be said, of a different league.

On the whole I find Rio Bravo an unconvincing movie. The main protagonists have to deliver long, winding, unnatural monologues as to their motives and feelings, which makes the movie also slow at times. This surplus of talk unfortunately does not give it or its message more substance but harms it suspensewise. Amidst the general mediocrity, the brilliant performance of Dean Martin as the alcoholic who wants to regain his standing among men stands out. The same can be said for the use of music which is beautiful and fitting.

I am a great admirer of John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13, a low budget movie reportedly based on Rio Bravo. I count it to my all time favorites. Amazingly, Carpenter's version of the story works far better, is more convincing (also in a moral sense), more gripping and on the whole more intelligent than the „original".
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Epaminondas3 January 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This film is perfection.

I hesitate in calling it the "greatest western of all time", as so many defining elements of the genre are lacking (for one thing, all the action takes place within city limits – so much for horse riding across western landscapes). More importantly, it transcends genre barriers and stands in a world of its own. A world of pure and simple correspondence between ends and means of the film-making process, that is, of classic perfection.

As many have noted, the starting point is simple: a sheriff needs to keep an outlaw in custody, other outlaws try to spring him. The ease and grace with which Hawks creates a two-hour long narrative from this, both elaborate and always radiantly clear, at the same time fast-paced and seemingly immobile, would be overwhelming if the result were not of such classic evidence.

This he does by perfectly balancing the characters, whose common point is the need for redemption or fulfillment, whether they are too old (Stumpy), too weak (Dude), too young (Colorado) or even too desirable (Feathers). Sheriff Chance is both unwilling to relate to them and unable to do without them – thus conferring a constant ambiguity to his behavior, balancing between pardon and anger, an ambiguity instantly redeemed by the righteousness and the physical grace with which he moves among them – "Sorry don't get it done, Dude" must be my favorite quote from any movie.

The same balance can be found between the few action scenes and the more gentle episodes. The action is scarce, but then all the more intense as it comes both inevitably and at unexpected moments. It is climactic and beautifully shot and choreographed. There are few gunshots (excepting the ending), but always to the point (if not always on target). To illustrate this, let us examine the episode in which Dude shoots an outlaw he and Chance are pursuing. He is unsure of whether he has hit him: this uncertainty is at once transmitted to his whole character, and to a characteristically sceptical as well as sympathetic Chance. In this sense, not a shot is wasted, as they define so powerfully the essence of characters and relations between them. The same could be said of young Colorado's ascension, materialized through his gun fighting ability. This is a classic feature of westerns, brought to unseen heights by Hawks.

These action scenes contrast beautifully with three other kind of scenes: the romantic seduction scenes in which Angie Dickinson shines; the comedy scenes taking place in the hotel, and the alternately anguishing and joyful scenes in the prison – culminating, as a reviewer has noted, in the songs shared by Dude, Stumpy, Colorado and an appreciative and silent Chance, a blissful moment in which time, the plot, the suspense are cast aside and all is left is an exceptional complicity between the characters, the director and the spectator.

Many defects can be found here and there, yet as a whole, the movie is perfect, as it creates with seemingly effortless grace a world – complete with strong and weak characters, a sense of time and space, right and wrong, necessity and chance (not a meaningless name for Wayne's character) – we at once recognize and love as our own.
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"Sorry don't get it done, Dude."
utgard1417 June 2014
Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) arrests a man for murder but the man's powerful brother is dead set on breaking him out. Chance must hold off the brother and his hired guns until the federal marshal arrives. Helping him is a cantankerous old man named Stumpy (Walter Brennan), a deputy with a drinking problem named Dude (Dean Martin), and Colorado, a young man new in town but good with a gun (Ricky Nelson).

Duke is excellent. Contrary to some of the negative reviews here, he's not "just playing John Wayne." But he always was an under-appreciated actor, especially among certain types. As for his love interest Angie Dickinson, despite the age difference he has great chemistry with her. Dino has probably his best acting role here. Walter Brennan is always fun. The most surprising part of the cast is Ricky Nelson and how good he was alongside these more experienced actors. The cast works well together and there's a real sense that these people like each other that comes through in their performances, making it all the more believable.

The plot is deceptively simple but it just goes to show that stories don't have to be complex to be interesting. It's a great character western, slow but well-paced. Howard Hawks shows why he is one of the all-time greats with how well he handles these characters and their actors, the flaws and strengths of each, and tells a simple but powerful story. The Furthman and Brackett script is great. I read some of the negative reviews here and all I can say is that I feel sorry for those people. Most of them seem to either have an ax to grind with Wayne and Hawks or they just don't like westerns to begin with. The good reputation of this film has lasted decades. It's inspired directors from John Carpenter to Quentin Tarantino. It's a genuine classic. On my top ten westerns list for sure.
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direction and acting carry this classic
Scott-5223 December 1998
Rio Bravo stands on its own as a remarkable piece of movie-making. By almost any measure, the remake ElDorado is a pallid reflection of it. In Rio Bravo, you have Walter Brennan coming into his own as a western icon; John Wayne answering the call to serve the townpeople who elected him, in effect throwing down the gauntlet to High Noon. Most of all, you have Dean Martin, presenting a shattering portrayal of an alcoholic that ranks with Paul Newman in the Verdict, Jack Lemmon in Days of Wine and Roses, or Bing Crosby in the Country Girl.

Give Dean his due. Too much has been written about him as a Rat-Packer sycophant. He was his own man throughout, and between the times of his split with Jerry Lewis and his Las Vegas-drunkie persona he proved that he could act. RIO Bravo, Some Came Running and the Young Lions answer any question about his ability. He makes this movie more than a western,
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500th film watched: Rio Bravo
jackasstrange15 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Rio Bravo is perhaps the finest work of director Howard Hawks, and also one of Wayne's very best films. It was made as a response to High Noon, which is sometimes thought to be an allegory for blacklisting in Hollywood, as well as a critique of McCarthyism. Wayne would later call High Noon "un-American" and say he did not regret helping run the writer, Carl Foreman, out of the country. Wayne teamed up with director Howard Hawks to tell the story his way. In Rio Bravo, Chance is surrounded by allies - allegorical representations of countries.

But over all the deep content that it has, that may be worth of various re-watches, it is an excellent film telling a somewhat entertaining story about a sheriff keeping in jail a bandit, brother of the bandit leader. Although, the allegorical part really plays big in this film.

The cinematography is as well very good. Exteriors for the film were shot at Old Tucson Studios, just outside Tucson, Arizona. Filming took place in the summer of 1958, and the movie's credits give 1958 as the year of production, although the film would not be released until 1959.

A curious fact about the film is the addition of two singers(Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson) for the important supporting roles in the film. They later do music just a few moments before the great climax of the film.

So, yeah. Rio Bravo is really a very good film, and it's somewhat better than it's remake El Dorado. A good choice for a 500th film.

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An absolute joy to watch.
Sergeant_Tibbs10 July 2013
Rio Bravo has always been one of those classics I've never been too excited for. By the first scene, I was hooked. This is only my third John Wayne film which I'm surprised by because I feel like I'm more familiar with him. The other two are The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance which I really like and The Searchers which is good but has its flaws. Its charms comes from its colourful and warm network of great characters. It has a lot of heart and I come to care from them all greatly and genuinely wish them no harm during inevitable danger. In particular, the tragic and heart-breaking-or-making Dean Martin, who's a pleasure to watch in every single scene he's in, especially in one in which he sings with Ricky Nelson.

The witty script has a great dry sense of humour with every joke hitting the mark and making it an even more relaxed affair than it already is. There isn't much urgency in the plot, with a simple story stretching for 2 hours and 15 minutes, but it never feels too slow or rushed (despite this jarring with the ever-present possibility of death). It effortlessly weaves the compelling character drama within the narrative and it's a genuine pleasure to watch. The great cinematography and sets are the best pre-Sergio Leone era I've seen in a Western with a fantastic sepia colour theme but not completely saturated. Rio Bravo is pure cinematic bliss. A very pleasant and welcome surprise. As a sidenote, this is the third new favourite from 1959 I've seen so far this year. Good year.

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classic story of old west
pruthvishrathod13 November 2013
Rio Bravo is another classic story of old west. The Sheriff vs bad guy plot never gets old and everything required to make it great is included here. Rio Bravo has an outstanding set up of the small town with well-crafted sets and equally brilliant soundtrack. Story is quite conventional but the tension jerking atmosphere and a few remarkable sequences lead the situation to higher platform. Characters are well developed. John Wayne playing a righteous sheriff and Dean Martin as his broke-alcoholic deputy gave excellent performances. Especially latter impressed me since I haven't seen much of him as an actor. Ricky Nelson also nicely pulled out young pretty Gun-fighter in his relatively shorter screen-time. Walter Brennan's performance as a disabled old man really stands out. Story floats really well and didn't realize the time being passed till it reaches to its final show-down. There are fewer gunfights in the films than I had expected but that doesn't make it less enjoyable at all. Found romance between John Wayne and Angie Dickinson's character unnecessary though it gave some cool one-liners. Otherwise everything is perfectly executed. great watch
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Can't get any better than this!
paul boyer8 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I have read many reviews of Rio Bravo,some get it right,some don't. The running time is long,pacing perfect,but the movie is typical Hawks.It is actually a character study,it may be viewed by many as corny and clichéd,but I'm a Hawks and Wayne fan,and as such,I love this picture.Great score,the cinematography revels in brownish hues,giving it a flavor of the southwest It really is about friendship and loyalty,right and wrong.It is also a series of scenes apart from one another.My favorite is the bar scene in the beginning.Please watch the supporting cast,they are brilliant,especially Dean Martin and Walter Brennan.A classic.
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The Essential John Wayne. and Howard Hawks, and Dean Martin.
Fred Schaefer5 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
John Wayne detested HIGH NOON and Howard Hawks thought even less of it, the sight of Sheriff Gary Cooper humbling himself by asking cowardly townspeople for help against a vicious outlaw seems to have deeply offended their concept of who and what constituted a hero in a Hollywood western. So like good Americans, they didn't just bitch and complain, they made their own movie and told the story their way, the result being RIO BRAVO, and the big winners were us movie buffs and western fanatics.

The plot of RIO BRAVO is simplicity itself: Sheriff John T. Chance locks up brutal outlaw Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) on a murder charge and awaits the arrival of the Marshall in a few days. Nathan Burdette (John Russell), Joe' wealthy rancher brother, hires a gang of killers with the intention of freeing his brother, at the same time making sure the good citizens of Rio Bravo get the message that if they try to come to Chance's aid, it won't be pretty.

Wayne's John T. Chance is a true professional, who does not bemoan his fate or beg for help, he stands for the rule of law and won't be intimidated, going about his job calmly and without without any outward fear. But the script (co-authored by Leigh Brackett) makes it very clear that as good as John T Chance. is, he does need help in this tight spot and gets from a most unlikely group: Walter Brennan's crippled old deputy, Stumpy; Ricky Nelson's young gunfighter, Colorado; Angie Dickinson's dance hall girl, Feathers; Pedro Gonzales Gonzales's hotel operator, Carlos; and most significantly, from Chance's alcoholic deputy, Dude, played by Dean Martin in what is surely his finest hour.

This typical rag tag band of misfits come together for a common good, and prevail over the villains by being loyal to each other and exhibiting competence in a crisis, thus earning the respect of Chance and the esteem of the others. Courage is defined not as the absence of fear, but as the willingness to confront danger in spite of it. All of these are some of Hawks's favorite themes, thus making RIO BRAVO intensely personal while at the same time, deliberately commercial. There are great touches of humor and lots of great dialog, while each scene appears to be laid out with great care, especially the famous wordless opening in a saloon; the positioning of the actors, the laying out of the sets (mostly the dusty streets, the town's hotel and the jail) appear to have been done with an eye that knew how to tell a story visually. Few reviewers note how well the night time scenes are done.

John T. Chance is probably the finest realization of a John Wayne hero in any film, a compliment from Chance is the highest honor a man could receive, and I think Wayne smiles more in this movie than any other, often at the antics of Brennan, in the kind of role he played better than any other. Martin's performance as Dude, a role originally offered to Montgomery Clift (who worked with Wayne, Brennan, and Hawks in RED RIVER), is a revelation; nothing much tops the scene where he pours the whiskey back in the bottle when the band starts to play the "cutthroat" song, which Santa Anna used in an attempt to frighten the defenders of the Alamo.

Angie Dickinson's Feathers (with her stunning legs on display) has to give the sexiest performance of any of Wayne's leading ladies, we even get inside her bedroom, a rarity for westerns at the time. Many think Ricky Nelson was out of his depth in this movie and was cast only for box office appeal, but I think he more than holds his own. RIO BRAVO is the last pairing of old pals and frequent co-stars Wayne and Ward Bond.

At two and a half hours, RIO BRAVO moves along very leisurely by modern standards; maybe Hawks should have copied HIGH NOON's tight pacing.

In the end, I think HIGH NOON told us much about contemporary America and the degradation and corruption of civilization; while in RIO BRAVO, Wayne and Hawks give us the heroic myth of the Old West at its finest. Both films are equally valid in what they say and are enduring classics in their own right. Want to see how relevant RIO BRAVO is, go see GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.
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A Western that defines its type, one of the best, a match to El Dorado
secondtake30 January 2013
Rio Bravo (1959)

I saw this again because I just saw (and loved) the similar Howard Hawks movie, "El Dorado." This earlier one is more famous and revered, and I can see why at first. "Rio Bravo" is archetypal. It's more serious and a little more gritty and violent than the later one. It's also extremely well done, a kind of paradigm for the good guy/bad guy Western.

There are some humanizing factors here for this type of movie. John Wayne is his usual likable stern self but with a sense of humor. Dean Martin plays a (dirty) drunk in a way you can empathize with. And Ricky Nelson is mild and cute (and sort of dispensable). And then there is Angie Dickinson who has a kind of sculptural presence and comes off with pretty good ease as a young actress (she was a television actress all along, and later was a t.v. icon in "Police Woman," a middling cop show in the 1970s). This movie is partly about relationships--friendships, budding romance, rivalries.

And the overriding theme is one of sticking together against evil. The town is "good" and all of Sheriff John Wayne's friends are "good." I put it in quotes because they represent good, as opposed to evil. Or at least to indifference, which is a deliberate counterpoint to Zinnemann's famous "High Noon" where the town will not help the sheriff. (John Wayne was angry about High Noon and wanted to do Rio Bravo partly to set the record straight about how decent people really will rise to help their sheriff in dire times.)

The result is a surprisingly feel-good experience. The movie has its dark moments, but you learn quickly that our gang of good people (including, by the way, a cackling Walter Brennan) will prevail. So encounters might lose their chill and sinister edge, but they gain the power of winning. Maybe this is like Bruce Willis in the Die Hard movies, where you know, in his joking way, he'll succeed. So these jokers, who really like each other and who even take time to sing a couple songs as a group (John Wayne just watches), succeed.

So is this a great movie? Yes, pretty much living up to its reputation. It is almost a final punctuation mark on two decades of Westerns (if we look at 1939 as the start, when four major A-list Westerns hit the screens after a terrible decade of trashy B-list versions). It sets the stage for the arch exaggerations like "Fistful of Dollars" and other Italian productions. And it sets the stage of Hawks's own "remake" of sorts, "El Dorado." And for my money, I like the way El Dorado pushes the ideas a little harder--both into a kind of campy humor and into a true buddy relationship between the leads in that film. Here Dean Martin is always marginalized, even as he pulls of some life-saving feats.

See them both. Check out the idea. Throw in High Noon and you'll have an idea of how the American Western was winding up some very prolific and profitable years.
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