Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Rio Bravo (1959)
Rio Bravo is one of my favourite movies of all time. It's directed by Howard Hawks and released in 1959. After a few years in Europe, Hawks returned with this film in response to "High Noon" directed by Fred Zinnemann, a film in which the town sheriff spends most of his time running around lookin for help from the town's people in response to the conflict. Hawks turned that notion on it's head with a sheriff played by Wayne who accepts help from no one, and never asks for favours.
The casting is superb except for maybe Ricky Nelson who plays Colorado Ryan, but it was his debut nonetheless, and considering that he does quite well alongside the other seasoned actors such as John Wayne (John T. Chance) and Walter Brennan (Stumpy). The outstanding performance has to go to singer/actor Dean Martin for the portrayel of an ex sharp shooting dupty who's drivin to drink over a woman. As the story goes, Martin flew out from Las Vegas after a big show for the audition. Howard Hawks was so impressed with Dean Martin that he hired him right there on the spot playing the part of Dude, the town drunk or "Borachon" as the local mexicans like to call him.
I think I heard somewhere that on the first day of shooting, Martin came onto the set dressed in "nice lookin" clothes and started acting anything but drunk, Hawks said somethin like "what the fuck are you doin?", and told him to go get changed and rethink the way in which he was approaching his role. I guess Martin kinda fell right into his Las Vegas stage act but he came back onto the set with the "Dude" we see in the movie. Superbly friggin done. We even get to hear him sing with Ricky:
Angie Dickonson plays "Feathers". She's awsome. Like in another of my favourite Hawks movies "His Girl Friday" with Rosalind Russell's character, Feathers doesn't take shit from no one. The big gruff, super cool John Wayne fumbles his words and gets nervous around her. "You forgot your pants sheriff" is a classic quote. Three guys with guns point their guns at Chance and Colorado, right after knocking out Dude in a shed up the road, Feathers throws a flower pot through the window and all hell breaks loose.
The plot basically is: a guy (Joe Burdette) is arrested for murder. Joe's brother is the local cattle baron, who employs alot of men to do whatever he so pleases. Sheriff John T. Chance with the help of an old cripple, Stumpy (Walter Brennan), and the town drunk, Dude, are gonna hold this guy in a cell in the small town of Rio Bravo until the US Marshal arrives in about a week or so to take Joe. In the meantime, Nathan Burdette's men lay seige to the town and wait for their chance to rescue the good for nothin brother of Nathan. A stage coach arrives from Fort Worth. On this stage coach are Feathers, Colorado Ryan (Ricky Nelson) and Pat Wheeler, played by John Wayne's buddy Ward Bond. You'll know Ward Bond as the Sheriff in "The Searchers". It's John Wayne, a cripple, a drunk, a girl, and a newer younger sharpshooter in Colorado against Nathan Burdette and about 30 of his men or more. An absolute classic.