Rio Bravo (1959) Poster



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The last movie in which John Wayne wore the hat he had worn since Stagecoach (1939).
Inside joke: When Chance (John Wayne) wants to deputize Colorado he asks Stumpy (who is off camera) where he keeps the deputies' badges. While Chance is looking for the badges, Stumpy (Walter Brennan) still off camera tells him to look after his own props. Wayne started off in movie as a prop man and was known to get irate if the props were not where they were supposed to be.
The sets in Old Tucson are built to 7/8th scale, so the performers look larger than life.
On May 8th 1958, just one week into shooting Ricky Nelson celebrated his 18th birthday. As a gift, John Wayne and Dean Martin gave him a 300 lb. sack of steer manure, which they then threw Nelson into as a rite of passage.
The movie was made by Howard Hawks and John Wayne as a counter-response to the underlying theme and point of view of High Noon (1952).
Dean Martin's agent approached Howard Hawks to consider his client for the role of the drunken deputy Dude. Hawks agreed to meet with Martin at 9:30 the next morning. When Hawks learned that Martin had done a show in Las Vegas until midnight, and hired a plane to fly him to the meeting, Hawks was so impressed that he simply sent Martin to get a costume and told him he had the part.
Howard Hawks did not want to cast Ricky Nelson, whom he considered to be both too young and too lightweight, and deliberately gave him the fewest possible number of lines for a third-billed star. However, he later admitted that having Nelson's name on the poster had probably added $2 million to the film's box office performance.
John Wayne had deliberately moved away from westerns after The Searchers (1956), but none of his films since then had been particularly successful or well received. This film was a return to the genre for him.
At the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, the rifle used by John Wayne (also used in El Dorado (1966)) and the hat and shotgun used by Walter Brennan are on display.
Howard Hawks always wanted someone who would connect with teenagers to play Colorado. Reportedly, his first choice was Elvis Presley, who was enthusiastic about the opportunity. Unfortunately, Presley's manager, Colonel Tom Parker, wanted too much money and top billing. Neither Hawks nor John Wayne would have any of it, so the search continued. Presley joined the US army in March 1958, two months before filming began.
There are only two close-ups in the movie: Joe firing his gun and Dude's hands trying to roll a cigarette.
For most of the film Chance (John Wayne) has the front of his hat turned up to make him look a little soft and friendly. However in the tough guy scenes when Chance informs Nathan Burdette that he will have Stumpy kill his brother if there is any trouble, the front of the hat is turned down, in traditional tough guy mode.
Quentin Tarantino has said that before he enters into a relationship with a girl, he always shows her 'Rio Bravo' and if she doesn't like it, there is no relationship.
Howard Hawks' instructions to Dean Martin who showed up in an almost comical cowboy outfit on the first day of shooting, were not to play a cowboy but just play a drunk.
After seeing the film, Gary Cooper said it was "so phony, nobody believes in it." Ironically, Cooper had been a visitor to the set since he was filming The Hanging Tree (1959) nearby. "Rio Bravo" is considered to be John Wayne and Howard Hawks' reply to Gary Cooper's own film High Noon (1952) because neither Wayne or Hawks thought a real lawman would want or need to ask for help in handling a problem like Cooper's character did in that film.
John Wayne and Ward Bond's 22nd and final movie together.
For the first four full minutes of film (including credits) there is no dialog.
When cast on this movie, for publicity, the production had Angie Dickinson's legs insured by Lloyds of London.
John Wayne was nervous about the love scenes between Chance and Feathers, since he was 51 and Angie Dickinson was only 26.
John Wayne's working script for the film was auctioned by Heritage Auctions for $20,315 by the Texas-based company. All but last three of its 122 pages were folded in half, a habit that the actor had of doing with all of his working scripts.
Claude Akins recalled that during filming all the actors found themselves starting to talk like John Wayne. Wayne was not impressed by this.
The song "My Rifle, My Pony and Me" sung by Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson was adapted from "Settle Down," the theme for Red River (1948) (another John Wayne / Howard Hawks western) by its original author, Dimitri Tiomkin.
In an interview Walter Brennan stated that for years after this film was released people who met him for the first time expected him to limp like Stumpy. He said he considered it a tribute to his acting since he had to constantly remember which leg to limp on.
It is believed that this film was so well received the over a decade later this film was remade with a similar storyline and called El Dorado (1966), with John Wayne and Robert Mitchum.
The movie had an interesting preview trailer. In the trailer, Ricky Nelson finishes playing his guitar, then he turns to the camera and talks about the exciting nature of the film. After some clips are shown, they cut back to Nelson who lists the cast members. When he does not mention his own name, we hear the voice of Dean Martin say off camera "What about Rick Nelson"?
Montgomery Clift, who was gay and a liberal Democrat, turned down the role of Dude, because he didn't want to work again with John Wayne and Walter Brennan who were both strongly conservative Republicans. They had previously worked together in Red River (1948). Clift suggested his The Young Lions (1958) co-star Dean Martin for the role of Dude, and so Martin's agent immediately approached Howard Hawks with the idea.
Although Harry Carey Jr. was listed in the credits on-screen, he does not appear in the picture. Carey had a drinking problem at the time. He called director Howard Hawks "Howard" instead of "Mr. Hawks" on one of his first days on the set, infuriating Hawks. His contract, including his pay and his screen credit, was honored, but his part (a townsman) was cut.
Dude's nickname Borrachón is Spanish for "drunkard". In the Spanish dubbed version, the nickname was changed to Merluzón, meaning "big hake," so that Dude can explain the meaning of the nickname.
John Wayne's character is called "Sheriff", "Chance", and "John T." all through the movie. The only time he is called "John" is by Dude after he is ambushed at the stable.
According to writer Leigh Brackett a scene where Ricky Nelson throws himself under horses similar to the one done by James Caan in El Dorado (1966) was shot but cut from the final print.
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Although a 1959 release, the opening credits say 1958.
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John Carpenter named this as an inspiration for Assault on Precinct 13 (1976).
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This was Howard Hawks' first film in four years. After the critical and box office failure of Land of the Pharaohs (1955), Hawks took a break from directing and lived in Europe.
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Malcolm Atterbury is listed in the credits (Jake, the stage driver), but like Harry Carey Jr., does not actually appear in the final cut of the movie.
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Ty Hardin tried to get the role played by Ricky Nelson.
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Howard Hawks negotiated for Frank Sinatra to co-star as Dude.
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Selected by the Library Of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2014.
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The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

Ward Bond's death scene was filmed from a distance because it was actually a double. Bond had already left the set to be back on location for Wagon Train (1957).

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