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96 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravo for Rio Bravo!, July 17, 2005
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This review is from: Rio Bravo (DVD)
"Rio Bravo" is a very entertaining and quality film suitable for the entire family.

The film boasts an all-star cast that boasts a wealth of talent. John Wayne is the tough sherrif John T. Chance, who has to hold a prisoner charged with murder in his small jail awaiting the arrival of the territory judge. Wayne gives one of his best performances. Dean Martin plays Wayne's troubled drunk deputy. Martin surprises everyone by showing just how wonderful an actor he is. In a difficult role, Martin excels. Angie Dickenson is Wayne's love interest. Dickenson's role is also an emotionally challenging bit of acting, but she pulls it off easily with room to spare. Walter Brennan is Wayne's crippled deputy and he also excels and provides comic relief. Brennan is so convincing as the crippled leg deputy that many fans of Brennan believed that he was actually crippled in real life. Brennan walked as good as anyone and it is a tribute to him that he convinced all of us that he had a bum leg! Rounding out the cast is the very young heartthrob Ricky Nelson, who plays "Colorado", a trailhand with a good gun. Nelson is in over his head here as an actor, but was probably included in the film for his ability to bring in the female audience. Ward Bond and Claude Akins round out the excellent cast.

Director Howard Hawks uses the cast to his advantage. His directorship keeps the film moving along at a steady pace. Interestingly, the first several minutes of the film has no dialogue at all! John Wayne speaks the first line about 4 minutes into the film after much action has already taken place.

This film represents Hawks' and Wayne's response to the movie "High Noon", which both men despised. Wayne and Hawks were disturbed by "High Noon" as no townspeople came to the help of the sherrif who had to face down a gang of thugs by himself. Both men believed that the good men and women of the community would rally to the side of good and face down evil. In 'Rio Bravo", Wayne's sherrif does not go it alone, but gets help from several sources.

Dimitri Tiomkin's score is a good one, originally made for the classic western, "Red River". Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson combine their vocal talents in the duet "My Rifle, My Pony, And Me". Believe it or not, Walter Brennan adds his vocal talents in a song that follows!

"Rio Bravo" is a very satisfying and entertaining film fit for the entire family. There is no profanity, love scenes are done discretely, and the expected violence is not graphic or gratuitous. As a kid, this was one of my favorite "John Wayne" movies. As an adult, it continues to be a favorite, and I believe it will be a favorite of yours too. Out of 10 stars, I'd give it a solid 9.

Jim Konedog Koenig
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Showing 1-8 of 8 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 22, 2009 8:28:43 AM PDT
P. Anderson says:
I'm not sure your interpretation of Hawk's dislike of High Noon is accurate. From what I have always read, it wasn't because the townspeople didn't come to the aid of the sherrif, but because Hawks didn't think a real sherrif wouldn't ask the townspeople (amateurs) to do a professional and dangerous job--to do his work. In High Noon, they don't get help from "several sources"--it is one small group that manages to outwit the "bad guys." Accept for some assistance from the hotel owner (who is never expected to use a gun) and the love interest, Wayne, Martin, Nelson and Brennan are on their own--and they are all professionals.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2009 4:24:06 PM PDT
kone says:
I have to respectfully disagree.

To answer your post, I cut a piece from the following website:

"The inspiration behind Rio Bravo originated with the outrage that John Wayne and director/producer Howard Hawks both felt over the 1952 western High Noon -- neither man appreciated that earlier movie's depiction of the town marshal (played by Gary Cooper) and his desperate appeal to the townspeople for help against the band of outlaws headed their way. And so the two of them, in conjunction with screenwriters Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman, set out to do a film in response, and the result was Rio Bravo, which was a complete inversion of High Noon in virtually every detail of its plot and structure."

Recall that Pat Wheeler (Ward Bond) offered to help Sheriff Chance, but got killed by Burdette's gang. This lead Colorado (Ricky Nelson) to volunteer his services as Deputy. As you mentioned, Feathers (Angie Dickenson) helped stand guard over Wayne's room while he was sleeping, and also helped Chance avert certain death by throwing the flowerpot through the window to distract Burdette's men. Carlos, the hotel manager, also came to help in the showdown with Burdette, bringing his shotgun. Crippled old Stumpy also was important to guarding Joe Burdette, and getting in the heat of the action at the final shoot-out. The final show-down was a team effort, unlike High Noon, when Cooper must face his enemies alone. Remember the comment Colorado makes at the showdown? - "Who's going to show up next, the girl?" implying that they had support from the townspeople.

Finally, notice how all the characters look out for each other in this movie, as opposed to "High Noon". Chance uses some tough love to rehab the alcoholic Dude (Dean Martin), supports him in the bar show-down, Stumpy (Walter Brennan) the "Father-Hen"looks out for both Chance and Dude, Carlos gives information to Chance about Burdette's men, and Feathers is a Mother Hen in regards to Chance. She even shaves Dude. The point is this: they all have each other's backs - quite unlike "High Noon".


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2011 8:43:35 AM PST
Profguy says:
I'm coming in way late, but I read several versions similar to Anderson's on this, with the addition of Wayne stating in an interview that he was really angered when Cooper threw his badge in the dirt at the end. I've known this for a number of years, but do appreciate you citing a source since I'm too lazy to do that. However, you may want to cross check. Great movie no matter what and I enjoyed your review.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 10, 2011 5:04:32 PM PST
kone says:
Thanks for your complement and probing question on the High Noon isse. To answer you, I will quote from a number of sources.

First, in support of your point, in the book "John Wayne's America", the Author, Garry Wills does cite the reference you made to Cooper throwing his badge in the dirt, and stating that Wayne did not like that gesture, as it implied a profound disrespect for the law. So you are absolutely right on that account.

Perhaps both the stepping on the badge and the cowardly townspeople are both significant reasons Wayne (and Hawks) despised High Noon, as the following quotes suggest:

In "John Wayne American", by Randy Roberts and James Olson, is an exerpt in regards to High Noon: "Without asking for it, he (Chance) receives help in every crisis, and during the course of the film he is saved by a drunken friend, a crippled old man, a young gunslinger, a dance-hall girl, and a Mexican hotel operator." "The townspeople in High Noon are timid, frightened, and totally self-absorbed; in Rio Bravo the seconday characters are occasionally timid and frightened, but ... they risk their lives to defend Chance."

In regards to the theme of "High Noon", Wayne did not think real "Americans" would shirk away as cowards when the sheriff (Cooper) asks for help. Wikipedia states the following (in support of such statement): "The film (Rio Bravo) was made as a response to High Noon, which is sometimes thought to be an allegory for blacklisting in Hollywood, as well as a critique of McCarthyism, according to Graham.[4] Wayne teamed up with director Howard Hawks to tell the story his way. In Rio Bravo, Chance is surrounded by allies-a deputy recovering from alcoholism (Dude), a young gunfighter (Colorado), an old man (Stumpy), a Mexican innkeeper (Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez), his wife (Estelita Rodriguez), and an attractive young woman-and repeatedly turns down aid from anyone he doesn't think is capable of helping him, though in the final shootout they come to help him anyway. "Who'll turn up next?" Wayne asks amid the gunfire, to which Colorado replies: "Maybe the girl with another flower pot."

In Duke: We're Glad We Knew You": "Wayne objected to the portrayal of a town where the citizens and institutions lacked courage and moral fiber. Most historians tend to agree, and evidence suggests that in times of trouble, most people stood by their lawmen."

Finally, this quote from Emanuel Levy: Wayne's objections to the film were even stronger than Hawks's. He described scenarist Carl Foreman's plot with great contempt: "In that picture, four guys come in to gun down the sheriff. He goes to the church and asks for help and the guys go, 'Oh well, Oh. gee.' And the women stand up and say, 'You're rats. You're rats. You're rats.' So Cooper goes out alone."

"It's the most un-American thing I've seen in my whole life," charged the actor, for the rugged men of the frontier, who had battled the Indians as well as nature, would not be afraid of four villains. Instead, they would have united, as they had united "to make the land habitable."

Wayne was humiliated by the movie's last scene, showing Cooper "putting the United States marshal's badge under his foot and stepping on it." Walking away from his job, as Cooper did, was inconceivable to Wayne's commitment to responsibility and public office.

Personally, I think along the same lines as Wayne and Hawks, in that I believe the townspeople, at least some of them, would have come to his assistance, whether asked directly, or helped indirectly.

To summarize, I think there are three reasons Hawks and Wayne made Rio Bravo in response to High Noon: 1. They disagreed that the sheriff in High Noon would seek help from the townspeople. So in Rio Bravo, Sheriff Chance does not seek help, but help comes to him because he stands for justice, courage, and law. 2. They did not agree that the townspeople would be so cowardly and self-absorbed to abandon Cooper at his hour of need, so in Rio Bravo we see corageous townspeople helping Chance beat the "bad" guys. 3. In High Noon, a disgusted Cooper grinds his badge into the dirt, but in Rio Bravo, the badge is seen as a badge of honor (as evidenced by how Dude reacts when Colorado gets a badge, and when Dude gets his badge back). Certainly, it is a combination of all three reasons, (and perhaps more!), but in my review, I tried to keep it brief and just mention that Rio Bravo was made in response to High Noon's cowardly townspeople.

As a further thought, I wonder what Duke Wayne thought about Clint Eastwood thowing his badge into the harbor at the end of "Dirty Harry"? While Callahan threw the badge for different reasons than Cooper grounding his into the dirt, the act itself speaks volumes in both cases.

Thanks for your thought-provoking post!


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2011 9:03:33 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Jul 28, 2014 8:34:56 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2011 9:03:35 AM PST
Profguy says:
What a comprehensive and thought-full reply. Your final summary finds no disagreement from me! It's funny - every time I see Eastwood throw the badge into the water I think about Wayne, Rio Bravo and High Noon (in that order). Actually I remember seeing High Noon with my father and, perhaps because I was so young, didn't like it. I thought Cooper was Kelly's father and I also thought he was acting like a coward. When I saw the movie again as an adult, my feelings on those two points didn't change, but I know young and first impressions are hard to get rid of. At any rate, Duke ends up with Angie Dickinson and you couldn't do much better than that (and though I saw Rio Bravo when I was young, I never thought he was her 'father.') It's a nice anecdote that for the rest of his life, Dean Martin called Angie "Feathers."

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 13, 2011 3:17:13 PM PST
kone says:
I did not know about the "Feathers" nickname for Angie D. I have the Dean MArtin Roast for Angie Dickenson. I will have to see if he calls her that name.

John Wayne was my favorite actor as a child. I did not really appreciate his acting as much as the figure of justice and good he represented. I have pretty much every book written on Mr. Wayne.

I have the same feelings about High Noon as you do! Grace Kelly looks like she could be Coop's daughter!


In reply to an earlier post on Jul 28, 2014 8:08:28 PM PDT
I think High Noon tells us an ugly truth about modern America, while Rio Bravo gives us a wonderfully heroic myth of the Old West; the messages of both films are equally valid and tell us much about who we are.
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