Saturday, December 10, 2016

Movie Spotlight: Rio Bravo (1959)


I almost didn’t do this review. I wanted it to be easy I guess... for every word to rush with the perfection of a mountain stream. Then it came - who said it was comfortable for a mountain stream? If water had feelings wouldn’t it be a bit painful for the water to be jounced around like that? Yet that is what makes it so madly beautiful. I’m not saying this review will be in rounded beauty of form, but it is here because I really want to share it with you!


And yet, with all that tangle of emotions Rio Bravo as a story, is in fact, almost glaringly simple.

The Big Bad Guy is trying to intimidate the Good Guy into releasing the other Bad Guy.

The End.

Really on paper that’s it and once you see that the Good Guy is John Wayne, farewell to any doubt that he will give in, but in truth that is just the beginning.


It doesn’t say anything about the tough love of Chance (John Wayne) in driving his friend to crack out of the well of self-pity. Not really throwing his weight around too obnoxiously he just does it and does it right and if that steps on a few people's toes so be it.


Next is Stumpy, the rather nutty old man who is loyal to the backbone.


Then there is Colorado Ryan who feels like a breath of cool air in all the dusty strain that goes on in the rest of the movie. Chill to his fingertips with an easy smile and quips that leave people thinking, he owns his classic role of cowboy. However, with his gleam of humor and the way he can hold himself passionless about the situation and yet totally be with it, he plays the role with a stunning, unique turn of hand.


And then… then, there is Dude. Words fail me people, they really do. His character and everything about him is superbly shown. Some girl broke his heart and he’s lonely and betrayed and it’s just so sad. So he sinks to the depths, only held from drowning completely by the loyal hand of Chance. There is his struggle against the weight pulling him down, which is powerful and inspiring and frankly really tough to watch sometimes as you hear all the misery he’s known. Finally he comes out and is able to look back across his pain. Then suddenly he becomes the balancer, the straight thinking one, his smile is back and his eyes aren’t quite so tragic. He can relax and it is all so beautiful. Yes, you could say I like him and his story just a bit. :)



The music - Dimitri Tiomkins wrote the theme song (anyone else hearing echoes of High Noon?) and Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson both sing, ‘nuf said.


Leaving me with a smile, a warm grand feeling inside, and maybe just a few tears, it ranks right up there with High Noon  (yes, it's that high!). This story definitely worked its way into my heart.

I could not post this without a shout-out to my terrific sister Arwen who introduced me to this, (and hundreds of other great stories), and is my general "Did-I-get-this-right?" person. Thanks old thing.

And…. This is my second post for The John Wayne Blogathon hosted by Hamlette of Hamlette's Soliloquy and Quiggy of The Midnite Drive-In. Thank you SO MUCH for giving me the impetus to revel in some of my Favorite Sort of Things. :)

7 comments:

  1. I wrote a comparison of this and El Dorado a few months back (see "The Valiant Few" on my blog). Always like to see other people's opinions. This one is on many's as the best JW movie (but not mine...:-)) Still, good review.

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  2. You have a wonderful and discerning sister. Rio Bravo is on TV and I swear to myself I will only watch that superb opening segment, filmed without dialogue, and then I will get on with my day. How could I walk away? How could anyone?

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  3. This is my second-favorite John Wayne western, and one of his finest. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's one of the best westerns of all time, up there with High Noon and The Searchers and 3:10 to Yuma and The Magnificent Seven, at the top of the genre. Your review hit so many of the best parts, from Dude's beautiful character arc to Colorado's chillitude to the deceptive simplicity of the story line. Love it!

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  4. This is one of my fave John Wayne movies, because it's so tense and there's such a great collection of characters. (I agree re: Dean Martin!) I have to watch this film at least once a year.

    Really enjoyed your review. :)

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  5. Your review is probably my favorite of this film I've ever read. I've attempted to review it, but the "tangle of emotions" stopped me in my tracks as all my attempts seemed so shallow and pale alongside this masterpiece.

    It's my very favorite of JW's films. I just can't get over it.

    And Dude, although I love Stumpy and Chance it is Dude that gets to me deepest. He's the one I root for the hardest and love the most. The redemption of a terribly scarred man. I just love your paragraph about him!

    Thanks for writing this review! It was GREAT!

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  6. It ranks up there with "High Noon"? Eek, I'm SO happy to hear that!

    This review was...wow. Perfection. :) How do you describe it all so wonderfully and accurately? The way you described each character....and Dude! He is probably my favorite Western character. :) (I think. I've never actually thought about it before...)

    Heehee. The fact that Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson sing together just makes this movie perfect. :)

    PS. I had to laugh when I saw this post in my feed. ;D

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