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Rio Bravo (1959) Poster

(1959)

Trivia

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.
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The last movie in which John Wayne wore the hat he had worn since Stagecoach (1939).
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).
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.
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 five close-ups in the movie: Joe firing his gun, Dude's hands trying to roll a cigarette, Dude pouring a shot of whiskey back into the bottle and a beer glass where a drop of blood falls in, alerting Dude to a gunman in the bar waiting above him in ambush. Chance's boots tapping together in Sheriff's office as he's sitting in a chair.
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.
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.
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.
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.
John Wayne and Ward Bond's 22nd and final movie together.
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.
For the first four full minutes of film (including credits) there is no dialog.
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.
When cast on this movie, for publicity, the production had Angie Dickinson's legs insured by Lloyds of London.
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.
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.
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"?
Claude Akins recalled that during filming all the actors found themselves starting to talk like John Wayne. Wayne was not impressed by this.
More or less remade as El Dorado (1966) and Rio Lobo (1970).
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.
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.
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.
Although a 1959 release, the opening credits say 1958.
John Carpenter named this as an inspiration for Assault on Precinct 13 (1976).
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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.
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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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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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.
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.
Selected by the Library Of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2014.
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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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John Wayne regarded this film as marking his transition into middle age. At 51 Wayne was starting to get overweight and he believed he was too old to play the romantic lead any more. His last four movies since The Searchers (1956) had been unsuccessful, and he felt the only way to keep audiences coming was to revert to playing "John Wayne" in every film.
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Members of the Western Writers of America chose "My Rifle, My Pony, and Me" as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.
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The film was a huge success in Italy, laying the groundwork for the following decade's Spaghetti Western boom.
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Howard Hawks negotiated for Frank Sinatra to co-star as Dude.
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Sterling Hayden, Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster were considered for the role of Sheriff Chance.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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Feathers's dialogue was occasionally inspired by the character of "Slim" To Have and Have Not (1944), as when, after the first kiss, she says: "...it's better when two people do it," recalling the phrase "it's even better when you help;" and again later when she says, "I'm hard to get - you're going to have to say you want me," recalling Slim's "I'm hard to get, Steve - all you have to do is ask me."
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L'homme à l'étoile d'argent (The Man with the Silver Star), a 1969 album from the French comics series Lt. Blueberry was directly inspired by the film. The plot is virtually the same. Blueberry plays the role of sheriff John T. Chance; McClure, a whiskey-adoring old man, combines the roles of Dude and Stumpy; Dusty plays the role of Colorado; Miss March, the teacher, plays the role of a less morally challenged Feathers; and instead of the Burdettes, here we have the Bass brothers.
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Because the film starred a crooner, Dean Martin, and a teen idol, Ricky Nelson, Howard Hawks included three songs in the soundtrack. Before the big showdown, in the jail house, Martin sings "My Rifle, My Pony, and Me" (which contained new lyrics to a Dimitri Tiomkin tune that appeared in Red River (1948)) accompanied by Nelson, after which Nelson sings a brief version of "Get Along Home, Cindy", accompanied by Martin and Walter Brennan. Over the closing credits, Martin, backed by the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, sings a specially composed song, "Rio Bravo" (written by Tiomkin with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. Nelson later paid homage to both the film and his character, Colorado, by including the song "Restless Kid" on his 1959 LP, Ricky Sings Again.
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The score includes the hauntingly ominous "El Degüello" theme, which is heard several times. Colorado identifies the tune as "The Cutthroat Song". He relates that the song was played on the orders of General Antonio López de Santa Anna to the Texans holed up in the Alamo, to signify that no quarter would be given to them. The tune was used the following year, over the opening credits of John Wayne's film, The Alamo (1960). Composer Ennio Morricone recalled that Sergio Leone asked him to write "Dimitri Tiomkin music" for A Fistful of Dollars (1964). The trumpet theme is similar to Tiomkin's "Degüello" (the Italian title of Rio Bravo was Un dollaro d'onore, "A Dollar of Honor").
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When the film was released it was widely commented that Dean Martin should have played the romantic lead instead of John Wayne.
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One day after the April 4, 1959 release date, ABC aired Lawman: The Souvenir (1959), which starred John Russell playing Marshal Dan Troop. Instead of trying to break someone out of jail, Russell's character Marshal Dan Troop was trying to recapture a jail escapee. Both productions were filmed at the Warner Brothers Burbank studio.
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Spoilers 

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).

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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