Rio Bravo (1959) 4.89/5 (13)


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Rating: The Good – 93.2
Genre: Western
Duration: 141 mins
Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson

The film that inspired some of the best directors of the last 50 years tells the tale of a sheriff (Wayne) and three deputies who after arresting a man for murder find themselves under siege by his wealthy brother and his hired guns. With great acting, original characters, insightful writing, and Hawks patient directing, this film is damn near perfect. Wayne is as usual outstanding but he happily hands over many of the scenes to the likes of Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson who shine in their own inimitable ways. Angie Dickinson also features strongly an adds a well integrated emotional counter-point to the tenser standoff scenes. However, the true strengths of Rio Bravo lie in how the themes of friendship, heroism, and cowardice are characterised, in the timeless wisdom and perceptiveness of its writing, and in how the atmosphere which Hawks masterfully manipulates throughout is adapted so effortlessly to the tension of each scene. As an example of the latter, just check out those scenes in which Burdette attempts to psych out Wayne with the Deguello guitar tune, a scene which more than any other from that time heralded the beginning of the more stylistic and gritty western. Magic.

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5 thoughts on “Rio Bravo (1959)”

  1. A very underrated film. Especially the surprisingly effective Dean Martin. The New York crooner is right on the mark as a washed up lawman fighting for some self-respect. Hawks’ hands are all over this film, though. The Wayne-Dickinson matchup is slightly off agewise, but you can feel the vibe of Bogie and Bacall a mile away.

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