Rio Bravo

Critics Consensus

Rio Bravo finds director Howard Hawks -- and his stellar ensemble cast -- working at peak performance, and the end result is a towering classic of the Western genre.

100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 43

91%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 23,908

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Movie Info

When gunslinger Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) kills a man in a saloon, Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) arrests him with the aid of the town drunk, Dude (Dean Martin). Before long, Burdette's brother, Nathan (John Russell), comes around, indicating that he's prepared to bust his brother out of jail if necessary. Chance decides to make a stand until reinforcements arrive, enlisting Dude, an old cripple named Stumpy (Walter Brennan) and baby-faced cowboy Colorado Ryan (Ricky Nelson) to help.

Cast & Crew

John Wayne
Sheriff John T. Chance
Dean Martin
Dude ("Borachón")
Ricky Nelson
Colorado Ryan
Ward Bond
Pat Wheeler
John Russell
Nathan Burdette
Estelita Rodriguez
Consuela Robante
Claude Akins
Joe Burdette
B.H. McCampbell
Writer
Dimitri Tiomkin
Original Music
Russell Harlan
Cinematographer
Folmar Blangsted
Film Editor
Leo K. Kuter
Art Direction
Ralph S. Hurst
Set Decoration
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News & Interviews for Rio Bravo

Critic Reviews for Rio Bravo

All Critics (43) | Top Critics (9) | Fresh (43)

  • Howard Hawks' direction is almost flawless with a tempo that injects humor, some dry some raucous, as a handy antibiotic for the story's frequent feverish outbursts of violence.

    June 23, 2020 | Full Review…
  • The movie is simultaneously an apogee of the classic Western style, with its principled violence in defense of just law, and an eccentrically hyperbolic work of modernism, which yokes both bumptious erotic comedy and soul-searing rawness to the mission.

    April 23, 2013 | Full Review…
  • To watch Rio Bravo is to see a master craftsman at work. The film is seamless. There is not a shot that is wrong. It is uncommonly absorbing, and the 141-minute running time flows past like running water.

    April 23, 2013 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • Wayne, of course, walks off with the show -- not by doing anything in particular, but simply by being what he is: at 51, still one of the most believable he-men in Hollywood.

    April 27, 2009 | Full Review…
    TIME Magazine
    Top Critic
  • Rio Bravo is a big, brawling western.

    May 13, 2008 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Howard Hawks's finest western (1959), and perhaps his finest film.

    May 13, 2008 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Rio Bravo

  • Jul 08, 2020
    Much beloved, this curious work is simply a well-made quilt: a combination of disparate elements sown together that people have grown to cherish over the years. John Wayne plays the stoic put-upon sheriff of a town owned by the bigshot local rancher, cut off and alone when he arrests the rancher's brother. Dean Martin is the laughed-at local drunk (typecasting) who is trying to reform (against type). Ricky Nelson, teen sensation, a hotshot gunslinger simply along for the ride, and Angie Dickinson interestingly plays the woman of ill repute who falls for the sheriff. It's interesting because she monologues all of her scenes to the Duke, throwing herself at him, while he simply takes it (poor guy!). I thought the whole piece uneven and stilted, but what do I know in the face of overwhelming admiration. But I could hardly finish the thing. Walter Brennan is the stereotypical grumpy sidekick, comic relief.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Nov 19, 2016
    Excellent. One of the best westerns out there. The team of Martin in Wayne is just fantastic. Check this out!
    Stephen S Super Reviewer
  • Jun 21, 2014
    It's Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and, of course, the most dynamite musician of all, Mr. John Wayne, pilgrims. This is a weird cast line-up for a western, which could have just stuck with the singer theme, but seriously, what, were they just supposed to not involve John Wayne in this western? As long as this film is, Wayne would had to have showed up eventually, which is where "High Noon" really blew it when it was trying to get Wayne in the lead role... which was probably a little more compelling because Gary Cooper didn't play the same John Wayne role that you couldn't get rid of in the western film industry of '50s. ...No, I'm kidding; there's no getting tired of that good old-fashioned John Wayne charm, especially when it combines with that good old-fashioned Dean Martin charm. Wow, this sounds like one seriously charismatic duo, as well it should be, because two-and-a-half hours might just be a little too long for John Wayne, or at least that's probably what they thought back in 1959, a little bit before Wayne decided to really challenge that theory. Well, folks, this film is at least less overlong and exhausting than "The Alamo" and "The [u]Longest[/u] Day", which is probably why it's so endearing, you know, outside of that good old-fashioned John Wayne and Dean Martin Charm. With that said, while this film isn't exactly two-and-a-half hours wasted, if it isn't Wayne's voice, then something ought to try your patience. It's debatable just how refreshing the film is in certain places, but it's even harder to deny the film's still often devolving to conventions, with little to say that's new in the unraveling of a story that makes matters worse by taking from melodramatic roots. As with many westerns of this nature, melodramatics play an instrumental role in driving a very Hollywood narrative, and that's fine, but for only so long, before it becomes a touch too obvious that the near-overwrought histrionic plotting seems to be attempting to compensate for natural shortcomings. This is a less adventurous and more intimate Hollywood western that has plenty of intrigue on paper, but also has plenty of natural shortcomings and minimalisms which probably shouldn't be crafted into something of a pseudo-epic. At just shy of two-and-a-half hours, the film tends to seriously outstay its welcome, meandering along with expendable material, as well as potentially dismissible material that seems to be forcibly clung onto the narrative, usually as those aforementioned histrionics. All of this dramatic bloating and structural dragging aren't especially severe issues, but they're recurrent throughout a questionably hefty runtime, and that tires your patience about as much as the times in which, of all things, storytelling falls flat, not just with the thin spells to characterization or anything like that, but with certain thin spells to direction that are near-blanding, and all too often distancing in their sense of stylistic laziness. There's something vacant about this film, and that's a shame, because this film could have done a lot with its length, rather than laze through it, with too much familiarity, bloating and thinness to truly thrive. Still, no matter how much potential goes betrayed, it is still done enough justice to make a pretty decent, and even well-produced western. The production value of this particular, light-scale western is a little too subtle to be especially outstanding, but it is there, orchestrated by art director Leo K. Kuter in a tight fashion that is distinguished enough to draw you into the environment and draw this world about as, if not more colorfully than Jules Furthman's and Leigh Brackett's script. Well, perhaps the art direction does a more consistent job of selling the film, as the screenplay is formulaic, melodramatic and, of course, overblown, but it is still nonetheless clever, with some humor and memorable characterization, in addition to biting dramatic highlights that rally shine a light on the story concept's potential, no matter how limited. The 142-minute runtime wouldn't be as unreasonable as it very much is if the story concept was meaty enough to be more worthy of meaty ambition, which is still not unreasonable itself, as there is still a potential to this intriguing and sometimes colorful portrait on a sheriff's struggles on a path to fulfill justice, and the script, no matter how flawed, does more justice to such potential than Howard Hawks' direction. Hawks seems to understand the limitations of this drama, and therefore feels flat in enough ways for momentum to be retarded to the point of losing reward value, but when Hawks wakes up, momentum is restored, at least enough to entertain, with some effective highlights in genuine tension that actually use the cold storytelling effectively in establishing a certain quiet intrigue. Make no mistake, more than anything, the directorial highlights beget entertainment value that is still pretty limited in the long run, but it's not the only highlight, of which there are enough spread out throughout the near-two-and-a-half-hour runtime for the final product to border on rewarding, at least on the back of what is arguably the most consistently strong aspect. The acting is pretty decent, maybe even solid, for what it is, and while there isn't much to do here, whether it be Angie Dickinson as an intriguingly mysterious woman, or Walter Brennan as the colorfully chatty old deputy, or Dean Martin as a more frustrated and flawed man of justice, or John Wayne as a more soberly engaging, yet also flawed man of justice, there is deliverance across the board, as well as chemistry. Although the film boasts the length of an epic, it's about its characters, and their interactions, and no matter how flat the storytelling is, the performances have heart, of which there is still enough in other areas of filmmaking to make the final product endearing, even though it could have been more. All in all, there's little that's new and plenty that's melodramatic in the draggy and often lazy-feeling telling of a story of only so much meat, thus, the final product falls as underwhelming, but not so deeply that production value, writing highlights, direction highlights and across-the-board enjoyable performances fail to drive Howard Hawks' "Rio Bravo" as a plenty entertaining, if plenty flawed western classic. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Mar 06, 2014
    The John Wayne/Angie Dickinson romance is entirely unbelievable, but just about everything else is a fine example of Hawks' singular talent for directing. Also, I was surprised Martin had the chops to pull off this complex of a performance.
    Alec B Super Reviewer

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