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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
coop-1616 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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My Favorite Classic American Western
gogoschka-115 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
There are quite a few seminal classic American westerns (such as 'High Noon', 'The Searchers', 'The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance' or 'Shane' - to name but a few), but 'Rio Bravo' ended up being my favorite among those. It's the quintessential film of the genre, yet although it delivers pretty much all of the classic western tropes in spades, I think the main reason I love it so much is because it's also such a great buddy movie.

Pairing John Wayne's stoic hero sheriff against the self-deprecating wit of Dean Martin's alcoholic deputy was a stroke of genius, as was the casting of a very charming Angie Dickinson in the female lead role and veteran Walter Brennan as grumpy old Stumpy. The constant bickering between all the main characters makes 'Rio Bravo' so much fun, but the humor in the great script and the wonderful performances by the game cast are only half of what makes this movie so great.

The other quality 'Rio Bravo' has which makes it stand out among other greats of the genre is its mood. There's an almost apocalyptic sense of doom permeating the movie throughout, and that constant dread combined with the film's humor - which is often of the gallows' kind - gives it a special kind of atmosphere that other classic American westerns of that era lack. What also adds to that unique tone of the movie is the central piece of music, the hauntingly beautiful Mexican ballad 'El Deguello' which plays an important role in the film.

'Rio Bravo' was the last truly great movie by one of the towering figures from Hollywood's "Golden Age", Howard Hawks (who had previously made such classics as 'Scarface', 'Red River' 'The Big Sleep', 'His Girl Friday', 'To Have And Have Not' and many more). The veteran director seemed to have realized he had made something special too, as he went on to remake 'Rio Bravo' not once but twice during his remaining years. In fact, his two last films were those two remakes ('El Dorado' in '67 and 'Rio Lobo' in '70). Both films featured John Wayne in the lead role, and while they're both solid westerns, they couldn't quite capture the unique charm of the original.

As it is, 'Rio Bravo' remains a highly influential classic (Quentin Tarantino cites it as one his favorite movies) and a masterpiece of the western genre. 10 stars out of 10.

P.S. In case you don't know whether to trust this review or not, just check out the lists below, and you'll see exactly what kinds of films I like:

My 50 favorite films reviewed:

80 Lesser-Known Masterpieces:
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Western Tai Chi
BrandtSponseller6 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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"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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Howard Hawks could perhaps have learned something from "High Noon"
JamesHitchcock16 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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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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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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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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"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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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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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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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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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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Not Exactly a Gallop in Pace...More Like a Pony Trot
kindtxgal20 June 2016
Good film but way too long. I started getting really bored with the romance part of the movie -- it was an annoying interruption of great scenes & the plot and really didn't add much to it other than that --- annoyance. Subtract a couple of the parrying between Wayne & Dickinson's characters and the movie would have flowed better and not dragged on so much! Any viewer can see where the argumentative stuff between the two will lead to. Yawn. Ricky Nelson & Dean Martin clearly cast to show off their warbling capabilities...Martin was great, but missing some of his fire & panache from previous films. Nelson -- well, he's just sorta pretty to look at of course. Walter Brennan returns in a familiar casting role -- cantankerous, backtalking, usual role -- so I found that regrettably boring as well, since Brennan's range of acting far outreaches that particular typecasting. So, yeah. A typical Western that is quite dim in comparison to High Noon's plot.
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Great Interaction Between The Three Leads
bigverybadtom30 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This Western movie works in large part because of the interaction of the main three characters: John Chance the town sheriff, Dude as an alcoholic cowboy trying to get clean, and Stumpy as an elderly cripple who serves in the sheriff's office. They argue and spar throughout the movie, adding much comic relief to an otherwise conventional story.

Joe Burnett is a powerful local rancher who kills an innocent bystander during a fight he provoked, and is arrested and taken to the town jail for it, where the sheriff and the deputized Dude and Stumpy hold him in wait for the marshal. They hold off the rancher's brother and his hired hands, while in the meantime an old friend of Chance comes to town with his group, as well as a woman named Feathers who is a card player and possible cheater. The questions are whether Chance and company can hold off the hired hands, and whether Dude can stay clean and competent as he withdraws from his alcoholism, and how good is Stumpy with his health problems anyway. Also what is the story with Colorado, the young man who came with the supply train, and will he get involved? Not until after watching the movie did I learn about this movie being a deliberate answer to "High Noon", where that sheriff kept going to the townspeople begging them for help, only they were too cowardly. Chance is different; he refuses outside help but gets it anyway. A more convincing scenario when you think about it.
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Good John Wayne Western, a bit overrated
doug-balch22 September 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Rio Bravo is a movie that has been gushed over by numerous critics (Roger Ebert's review is particularly unctuous). Frankly, I don't really get it. I thought it was a really good movie and gave it 6 out of 10 in IMDb, which is a good score for me. It also scored well in my ranking system with 14 points, but for my money it doesn't belong in the conversation of "best Western of all time".

Here's what I liked:

  • Obviously, Hawks is a great director. He's at his best here at the interplay between the characters, especially Chance and Dude. Stumpy and his relationship to everyone is well drawn also, as are Feathers and Colorado. You've got to like the names of all the characters too, right? Chance, Dude, Stumpy, Feathers, Colorado. Great stuff.

  • Really cool use of the haunting trumpet in the Mexican "Cutthroat Song", which Burdette orders the band to play in order to harass Chance.

  • One of Wayne's better roles, which is saying a lot.

  • Dean Martin is fantastic in this. There's an interesting story about how Hawks cast Martin, if you can dig it up.

  • Scored well in my Mexico/Indian/Civil War category with the well characterized Mexican hotel owners who come to Chance's aid. Also, town was well populated with Mexican characters, which was historically accurate.

  • Good use of comic relief.

  • Claude Akins was an effective heavy, although his brother, played by John Russell, could have been characterized a little better. Look for Russell as the henchman Stockburn in "Pale Rider" 25 years later.

Nothing about his movie was really bad, I just have some minor complaints:

  • I found Ricky Nelson very awkward in this. Too bad they couldn't get Elvis. That would have been really interesting.

  • Once again the stunning age difference between Wayne and Dickinson undermined the romantic subplot. Nice effort by Dickinson, though.

  • Could they have left that town set for just one minute? I guess claustrophobia was part of the theme. I hate claustrophobia

  • Songs by Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson were horrible

  • Does a stick of dynamite automatically explode when hit with a bullet? Not the best shootout at the end and the body count seemed a little on the high side.
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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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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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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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What am I missing?
matchettja8 July 2006
Despite its classic status, this is not one of my favorite Westerns. I have my reasons. First of all, it's not really a Western. It can be and has been transposed to just about any era, anywhere in the world. Next, the story is absurdly simple. You have a small group standing off a much larger group trying to get their comrade out of captivity. That's about it. There isn't a whole lot more. Finally, the actors camp it up something terrible. Now I don't hold with those who say John Wayne couldn't act. If you watch "Red River", "The Searchers", "The Quiet Man", "True Grit", "Hondo", and a number of others, you'll find an impressive body of work by a dedicated professional. Here, however, Wayne plays Wayne and nobody else. The same is true of just about everyone else in the cast with the exception of the great Walter Brennan, who brings dignity to his role.

I am aware that many people really love this movie. I am aware that "Rio Bravo" is included in some critics' top ten lists of the best Westerns ever made. I have watched it over and over again to find out what I'm missing, what I can't see. I just can't get it. There is just too little plot and too much ham for my taste.
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it's time for a cowboy to dream
dan_pap7 July 2019
"Every man should have a little taste of power before he's through."

Rio Bravo boasts a stellar cast in John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, and Angie Dickinson. It's a classic Western film that strays from themes related to the genre. Instead of the stereotypical outlaw vs. sheriff theme, Rio Bravo forces the audience to analyze each character and how their unique backstories explain their actions.

One of Rio Bravo's defining features is that, unlike other Westerns, there isn't an overwhelming protagonist. Instead, each of the characters are seen grappling with their own issues and finding their place in the story.

All four of our main characters are deputies in the town. John Wayne plays the sheriff and acts as the calm and steady voice of reason in the story. Dean Martin plays Dude, a has-been who delved into alcoholism after he was left by a woman. There's Stumpy, the crippled grandpa and a young, talented new guy. The interactions between all the other characters is quite interesting, especially the chemistry between Chance and Dude.

Methodically speaking, this is a really good movie whether you like Westerns or not. The writing is really good, and the direction especially is remarkable. Each scene is intricately set up. I want to bring special attention to the opening scene. There's no dialogue, and we don't fully find out what transpired until later. The opening scene really pulled me in, and set this up to be a really solid film.

Unfortunately, the run-time is a bit long. As the movie progresses, Feathers and Stumpy started really annoying me. There's a shootout scene that's really good, but the closing scene is anticlimactic and I wish the movie had ended better for the sake of the story.

Despite all the praise I can offer Rio Bravo, I just don't think it warrants over a 7 rating. The scenes with Feathers are too drawn out, and I think we'd have a better story if her character was removed completely. Nonetheless, this is definitely a good Western to see if you appreciate character development, dramas, and John Wayne.
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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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