ABC Film Challenge – Action – R – Rio Bravo (1959) Movie Review


Director: Howard Hawks

Writer: Jules Furthman, Leigh Brackett (Screenplay)

Starring: John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond

Plot: A small-town sheriff in the American West enlists the help of a cripple, a drunk, and a young gunfighter in his efforts to hold in jail the brother of the local bad guy.

Runtime: 2 Hour 21 Minutes

There may be spoilers in the rest of the review

Story: Rio Bravo starts when Sheriff John T Chance (Wayne) catches one of the most dangerous outlaws in the west, knowing his brother Nathan Burdette (Russell) will come for him, Chance must put together a team to defend the town, the drunk Borrachon (Martin), the loyal old friend Pat Wheeler (Bond) and upstart kid Colorado Ryan (Nelson).

As Burdette looks to execute his own plan to free his brother, Chance must use his experience to stay ahead of the outlaw and the many men he will pay to help him.

Thoughts on Rio Bravo

Characters – Sheriff John T Chance likes to work alone in enforcing the law in his town, he has the respect of the town and the few people he does let help him are usually on a redemption arc, he will help them find their feet and he doesn’t want to let people get killed working for him. He knows what is coming into the town and needs to protect the people before the outlaws cause more problems. Dude is a former gunslinger with a drinking problem, he is one of the best and fast gunslingers, but he needs to recover before it is too late. Nathan Burdette is the man that is looking to free his brother, he has money to back anyone who wants to make quick money while coming off like a calm rich businessman in the area. Colorado Ryan is the son of one of the best gunslingers who is just finding his way in the west, a place where he knows how to get involved and how to stay away from trouble.

PerformancesJohn Wayne was always the screen presence even if his acting wasn’t the most convincing, Dean Martin gets the best performance in the film with how he his character must go through the biggest arc. The supporting cast all work well through the film too.

StoryThe story here follows a small town sheriff who is waiting for the US marshal to arrive to take an outlaw away when his brother looks to put his own move on the town to release his brother. This is a much clamer western where the story builds on the characters strengths and weaknesses to show us what it will mean to the people int eh town to capture the outlaws, the villain doesn’t get that much development though, he is just sending people for his brother, with only one major sequence meeting the people in the town. This isn’t what you would expect from a western, but it does do everything right for developing a set of characters well.

Action/WesternThe action blends with the western themes with ease, with mostly shooting, but nothing too much.

SettingsThe film mostly remains in one town, showing how knowing your home ground will give you an advantage over anyone looking to enter and cause trouble.

Final Thoughts Rio Bravo is one of the classic westerns that remains an easy watch even after all these years.

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