RIO BRAVO (COLOUR, 1959)
John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Ward Bond, Walter Brennan, Claude Akins, John Russell and Pedro Gonzalez
7 and up
Small-town sheriff John T. Chance, with the help of a drunk, Dude (Martin), manages to capture local bad guy Joe Burdette (Akins), brother of a rancher named Nathan (Russell). Many of Joe’s gang, including his brother, want him out of jail and captures Dude. To help him, John hires shady lady/card player Feathers (Dickinson), Colorado Ryan (Nelson), who used to help out John’s old friend Pat Wheeler (Bond), jail guard Stumpy (Brennan) and hotel owner Carlos (Gonzalez). When they decide to trade Joe back for Dude, the two parties start a battle against one other.
|From left: Ricky Nelson, John Wayne and Dean Martin|
Why it’s good:
Because it is the most classically classy western with a really splendid cast, from John Wayne as a sheriff, Dean Martin the comedian as a drunk, early rock star Ricky Nelson as Colorado Ryan and Angie Dickinson as the extremely shady card player.
But most of all, it is the opposite of the values presented in "High Noon" (1952), another classic western. "High Noon" presents the view that leaders should ask for help while this film says that leaders should not beg for help but rather allow other people to help them. This film says that in brilliant Technicolor.
Laying their messages aside, it has a rather slow pace which could be quickened somehow. But the slow pace showcases the acting skills and story plot of this film. John Wayne isn’t really fast or dynamic, but still a moving piece of a movie star.
The singing is also a close equal of the action. Stumpy and Colorado sing ‘My rifle, my pony and me’ and ‘Do not forsake me, oh my darling’ - two great pieces of music you might want to hear over and over again.
It was G-rated by the Canadian censorship. There are some violent action sequences, where Joe Burdette’s gang pushes Dude into a bucket of water. Pat Wheeler is shot in a warehouse while one man falls off the ceiling in a bar.
During filming, Ricky Nelson celebrated his 18th birthday. As a gift, John Wayne and Dean Martin gave him a 300 lb. sack of steer manure, which they then threw Nelson into as a rite of passage.
If you like this…:
Check out the extremely loose remakes, "El Dorado" (1966) and "El Lobo" (1970). Both of them are made by the John Wayne-Howard Hawks team. They were also together for Red River (1948), co-starring Montgomery Clift and Walter Brennan again.