After witnessing a murder and consequently arresting Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) for his actions, Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) must enlist the assistance of three men to combat any incoming threat they may face when trying to prevent him from being freed. The Sheriff must do this while also juggling a blossoming romance with a passing gambler that goes by the name of Feathers (Angie Dickinson). A really impressive and well-made western movie that should be regarded as a must watch for any fan of the genre.
Director: Howard Hawks
Writers: Jules Furthman, Leigh Brackett
Starring: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, Ricky Nelson
After recently watching The Searchers (1956) and thoroughly enjoying it, I decided to explore more of John Wayne’s filmography recently, thus watching Rio Bravo this past weekend. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect heading into this one, but it’s fair to say that what eventually transpired surprised me. Rio Bravo didn’t seem to come across as the action packed, suspense fest that some films of this nature often are, especially as it seemed to be more of an exploration of certain characters and their relationships within the small setting of the film itself.
With that being said, the cinematography and general backdrop adopted in most scenes was beautiful to see and extremely easy on the eye. As a viewer, you could probably spend a considerable amount of time just analysing and soaking in the surroundings rather than the content and substance of the storyline put forward.
As touched upon, however, I did get the distinct feeling that Rio Bravo was a delve into certain unique characters put before us, with the story and cinematography taking a back seat. Along with the three main characters, there was even a fourth one added later into the fold, who added even more personality and distinctiveness to the already recognised trio. It’s difficult to find a movie where you’re unable to say anything negative about the main characters, but Rio Bravo was certainly one of those rare films.
One thing that leaped out to me time and time again was the strength of the script put forward too. On more than one occasion I found myself sitting up and taking note at what had just been said, along with chuckling along with multiple lines produced by certain characters. The script and the acting combined seemed incredibly natural and that is never a bad thing when it comes to filmmaking.
John Wayne adopted the role of Sheriff John T. Chance, while Dean Martin played Dude, a man struggling to overcome his alcoholism while fending off any unwelcomed visitors. Alongside the pair were Walter Brennan and Ricky Nelson who played Stumpy and Colorado Ryan respectively. Both added their own flavour to the film, especially Walter Brennan who for the majority of his scenes was able to have you laughing and smiling along with him. Elsewhere, there was even a part for Angie Dickinson, who portrayed Feathers, the love interest of John Wayne’s character.
On a whole, it wasn’t just the acting and characters that deserved praise, it was also the costume and set designers too – all of which were extremely authentic and believable from the off. Rio Bravo perhaps wasn’t what I’d expected heading into the flick, but it turned out to be a really good John Wayne movie that is a must watch for any old-school western fan.
You want that gun? Pick it up… I wish you would.Sheriff John T. Chance – Rio Bravo