Saturday, January 27, 2007

Revisit: Rio Bravo

A Warner Brothers release 1959
Directed by Howard Hawks
Writing Credits:
B.H. McCampbell (short story)
Jules Furthman (screenplay)
Leigh Brackett (screenplay)

The sheriff (John Wayne) of a small town in southwest Texas must keep custody of a murderer whose brother, a powerful rancher, is trying to help him escape. After a friend is killed trying to muster support for him, he and his deputies - a disgraced drunk (Dean Martin) and a cantankerous old cripple (Walter Brennan) - must find a way to hold out against the rancher's hired guns until the marshal arrives. In the meantime, matters are complicated by the presence of a young gunslinger (Ricky Nelson) - and a mysterious beauty (Angie Dickinson) who just came in on the last stagecoach.

One of the quintessential westerns, Rio Bravo is a textbook example of Hawks versatility as a director. His eye for storytelling and technical mastery is evident in most every genre he tackles, westerns included. He works through the western without missing a beat, providing a full show, while adding his own distinct, right-wing politics. The characters in the film are rich and fully-rounded, their behavior and psychology focused. John Wayne plays the curt, upstanding sheriff with usual excellence. Personally, I think Walter Brennan's Stumpy steals the show. Must see for fans of the genre.


Jafo said...

It's funny I happen to run across this tonight. Rio Bravo is on the t.v. now as I type this. One of the Dukes best movies with a stellar cast. Thanx for posting this.

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