The sheriff 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 and a cantankerous old cripple - 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 - and a mysterious beauty who just came in on the last stagecoach.
- John Wayne , Dean Martin , Ricky Nelson , Angie Dickinson , Walter Brennan , Ward Bond , John Russell
Fresh and Exciting
Instead, you get a movie that's enjoyable enough, but leaves you feeling like it could have been much, much more.
Fun premise, good actors, bad writing. This film seemed to have potential at the beginning but it quickly devolves into a trite action film. Ultimately it's very boring.
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: IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/80 Lesser-Known Masterpieces: imdb.com/list/ls070242495/
The name John Wayne immediately conjures up images of the wild west much like the name Alfred Hitchcock conjures notions of suspense. Starting on the silver screen at nineteen, John Wayne still holds the American record for the most lead roles (142) in a career spanning into the seventies. Plainspoken, strong-willed and more than willing to take a tumble or two, John Wayne's name still stands the test of time; a name ubiquitous even today.Rio Bravo begins in near total silence. Local sheriff and former gunslinger the Dude (Martin) tries to pay for a drink at the local watering hole. Already drunk and out of money, local miscreant Joe Burdette tries to roughs him up. In the chaos Marshall John T. Chance (Wayne) tries to intervene but is punched in the jaw by the Dude who's trying to save face. A man is killed and Joe is arrested by the sore Chance and the still drunk Dude. In order to bring Joe to justice, Chance must team up with the Dude, Colorado Ryan (Nelson), a young gunslinger; local codger Stumpy (Brennan), and a travelling gambler named Feathers (Dickinson). In the shadows lurks Joe's older brother Nathan (Russell) who comes to town with a posse set on freeing his brother and killing anyone who tries to stop them.Much like Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" and On the Waterfront (1954), The story of Rio Bravo was written as a response to High Noon (1952). Famed for being the western for people who hate westerns, High Noon is regarded as an allegory to Hollywood's reaction to the House Un-American Activities Committee's red- baiting. Wayne at the time, was president of the Motion Picture Alliance and set out to make a counterpoint to Gary Cooper's Marshal Kane. Sheriff Chance doesn't ask for help from the townsfolk despite overwhelming odds. In-fact at several points he refuses help from anyone he doesn't feel would be useful in a fight. He's practical and duty-bound as opposed to wry and moralistic.Each important player, comes into the film with something to prove to the world. Dean Martin's career as a nightclub crooner was on the wane and while his third billing in The Young Lions (1958) was well received, nothing thus far compared to his partnership with Jerry Lewis. Looking to become a "serious" actor, Martin ended the partnership tumultuously in 1956. Meanwhile the eighteen-year-old Ricky Nelson was hot off the billboard charts and was given the role of Colorado only after Elvis Presley dropped out. Ricky symbolized the coming era of rock & roll to some of the old timers; an attitude that was not lost on him when Wayne and Martin threw him in a pile of steer manure on-set as a "right of passage". Then there was The Duke, who had not had a surefire hit since Hondo (1953). He dabbled in a few war films since then as well as a few historically misguided films, The Conqueror (1956) being the most loathsome. He also made what's widely considered his greatest accomplishment The Searchers (1956), a film not well received during its time but has since been ranked as one of the best westerns ever.Director Howard Hawks was also trying to get out of a downward spiral since his sword-and-sandal epic Land of the Pharaohs (1955) epically tanked at the box office. The famed studio director, dubbed The Silver Fox for managing to ferret his way into every Hollywood genre met his Waterloo. After a few years living in Europe, Hawks was ready to return to the director's chair and decided on Rio Bravo's beautiful script as his comeback. To hedge his bets Hawk's had his sets built 7/8ths to scale to make the actors and characters appear larger than life; not that the 6'3'' Wayne ever needed help with that.At two hours and twenty one minutes, Rio Bravo feels much more episodic than El Dorado (1966) or Rio Lobo (1970) (two films with identical conceits, said to be indirect remakes). The story also feels stronger, grittier and more universal. Those not intimidated by the film's near-mythic status and are itching to see multiple talents reaching for redemption, you'd do well to watch Rio Bravo.
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.
I don't get it! I really don't.This film has got to be one of the most tired and lethargic big-budget Westerns ever produced this side of the goddamn Rio Grande. I ain't kiddin'! Like, how could this film ever get away with being so over-rated for all of these years? Everything about Rio Bravo was tired-tired-tired, including the 52 year-old John Wayne, who looked like he was about ready to nod off at any minute in this one.At 140 l-o-n-g minutes, I must say that Rio Bravo definitely pushed the limits when testing one's overall patience and tolerance. I believe that at least 30 minutes could've easily been cut from Rio Bravo's running time and no one would've noticed the diff, one way, or the other.Considering the so-called "star-power" that was jam-packed into Rio Bravo, you'd honestly think that this film would've just snapped, crackled, and popped with pure "Western"-style vitality and vibrancy. But, no, sadly enough, Rio Bravo was so tired and slow-paced that, at times, it got mighty close to falling flat on its face.The unusual thing about Rio Bravo was that (since 95% of its action took place indoors) it lacked an authentic, Western-type, outdoor adventure to hold the viewer's interest. This struck me as very odd and this was the main factor that contributed to Rio Bravo's tired and somewhat claustrophobic atmosphere.Naturally with Rio Bravo being the tired Western production that it was, it could only be expected to feature a tired romance, as well. Right? This tediously tiresome love affair took place between 2 people who were, quite obviously, 30 years apart in age. And because there was no on-screen chemistry, whatsoever, happening between these 2 actors (Wayne & Dickinson), the whole affair was just plain tired to the 10th power, going, pretty much, nowhere, fast.Rio Bravo's highlight (if you really wanna call it that) was the duet of sorts that was sung between Pop Idol, Ricky Nelson and Swooner-Crooner, Dean Martin. Needless to say, this particular rendition of the ballad "My Rifle, My Bow and Me", which was effortlessly sung by these 2 singers was very much like the rest of Rio Bravo - T-I-R-E-D!Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.... What more can I say!?