Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Rio Bravo (1959)
Cast. Could be that the director was Howard Hawks, who directed the classic western, Red River, also with John Wayne. He gets a relaxed performance from Wayne that has him doing what he always does best, reflecting a wry sense of humor. But if you grew up with Dean Martin opposite Jerry Lewis and then with his own variety show on TV, you think of him as belonging in a high-class Italian suit, holding a highball and a cigarette. A cowboy hat? No.
Brennan is at his comic best in the film, almost a self parody. He gets plenty of lines and though he almost never leaves the jail, where he’s keeping an eye on a prisoner, he has enough action as well. Angie Dickenson is given more than the usual two-dimensional part as the token female in the cast. The scenes of teasing flirtation between her and Wayne are plausible and seem to suit both of them.
Wayne has only himself, game-legged deputy Brennan, and the still drying-out deputy Martin to prevent that from happening. And it’s a 6-day wait until a U.S. marshal arrives to take away the prisoner. Ricky Nelson, as the “Colorado Kid,” joins them. And the four men manage to hang onto the prisoner while being greatly outnumbered.
Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett were the film's screenwriters. Furthman had a long writing career in Hollywood (1915-1959). Rio Bravo was his last film. Said to take place in west Texas, it was shot in Old Tucson, Arizona, and in Warner Brothers Studios, Burbank.
There’s an extensive list of interesting trivia related to the film at imdb.com. The most revealing is that the film was intended as a response to Gary Cooper’s High Noon, which Wayne is supposed to have considered “un-American.”
Rio Bravo is currently available at amazon and streamable at both netflix and amazon. Tuesday's Overlooked Movies is the bright idea of Todd Mason over at Sweet Freedom.
Photo credits: Wikimedia Commons
Coming up: Charles King, Dunraven Ranch (1890)