Rio Bravo (1959)
One deputy is a drunk, one is a cripple and another is an eager, tinhorn kid.
But Sheriff John Wayne knows he can count on 'em when the bullets fly.
A landmark salute to heroism, directed by Howard Hawks.
(dvd) - When it comes down to naming the best Western of all time, the list usually narrows to three completely different pictures: John Ford's The Searchers, Howard Hawks's Red River, and Hawks's Rio Bravo.
About the only thing they all have in common is that they all star John Wayne.
But while The Searchers is an epic quest for revenge and Red River is a sweeping cattle-drive drama ("Take 'em to Missouri! Yeeee-hah!"), Rio Bravo is on a much more modest scale.
Basically, it comes down to Sheriff John T. Chance (Wayne), his sobering-up alcoholic friend Dude (Dean Martin), the hotshot new kid Colorado (Ricky Nelson), and deputy-sidekick Stumpy (Walter Brennan), sittin' around in the town jail, drinkin' black cofee, shootin' the breeze, and occasionally, singin' a song.
Hawks -- who, like his pal Ernest Hemingway, lived by the code of "grace under
pressure" -- said he made Rio Bravo as a rebuke to High Noon, in which sheriff Gary Cooper begged for townspeople to help him.
So, Hawks made Wayne's Sheriff Chance a consummate professional -- he may be getting old and fat, but he knows how to do his job, and he doesn't want amateurs getting mixed up in his business; they could get hurt.
This most entertaining of movies also achieved some notoriety in the '90s when Quentin Tarantino (director of Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, and Jackie Brown) revealed that he uses it as a litmus test for prospective girlfriends.
Oh, and if the configuration of characters sounds familiar, it should: Hawks remade Rio Bravo two more
times -- as El Dorado in 1967, with Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and James Caan; and as Rio Lobo in 1970, with Wayne, Jack Elam, and Christopher Mitchum.
- Rio Bravo
great westerns actors
| A Fistful of Dollars | Butch
Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Dances with Wolves | For
a Few Dollars More | Good, the
Bad and the Ugly
High Noon | High
Plains Drifter | Magnificent
Rio Bravo | Rio
Grande | Shane
Three Amigos | Tombstone
| Unforgiven | Wyatt
(The Illustrated History of Movies Through Posters Series Vol. 2)
Bruce Hershenson Paperback
Western TV Classics
Western Actors | Big
Valley | Bonanza | Gunsmoke
Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp | Lone
Ranger | Wild, Wild West