Rio Bravo Reviews
"You've seen nothing like 'em together... and in the heat and hate of Rio Bravo nothing can tear 'em apart!"
Rio Bravo is a film that defines the Western genre, maybe more than any other does. It has everything that the makes the genre great. It has tough leader, with two under respected helpers against a lot of bad guys. Then comes the young gunslinger to help out the undermanned sheriff. The setting looks great as a backdrop to the violence that ensues. It may be a tad bit longwinded, but the actors and plot will keep your attention for the 140 minute runtime.
At the beginning of the film, Chance arrests Joe Burdette for murder and locks him in the local jail. Joe's brother assembles a team to of hired hands to watch the town and make sure that the sheriff can't take Joe away from the town. Soon, a battle ensues between the authorities and Burdette. This plot has been used a million times since Rio Bravo, but never has it been done as well as it was here.
This isn't my favorite Western, nor is it my favorite John Wayne movie, but it is one of the best in both categories. If you're a fan of the genre, there isn't much you can find to complain about here. It's right up there with Stagecoach, Once Upon a Time in the West, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, when talking about the best of the genre. What makes it so great is Howard Hawk's wonderful direction and a big name cast that includes John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Ricky Nelson.
Rio Bravo is a must see for the casual and die hard film fan alike. There's a reason it has acquired its status as a genre masterpiece.
John T. Chance: Sorry don't get it done, Dude. That's the second time you hit me. Don't ever do it again.
Needless to say (at least for now) I'm a bit disappointed. First of all, flixster is wrong. The running time is not 1 hr. 25 min. Add 55 min. to it, and that's what it really is. I wasn't expecting the film to be that long, and have the very leisurely pace that it does. Also, given those two factors, I was shocked to learn that the plot is really straightforward and simple.
It concerns a sheriff (John Wayne), two deputies, one a recovering drunk (Dean Martin), the other an old cripple coot (Walter Brennan), and a young aspiring gunslinger (Ricky Nelson) holed up in a western town holding a criminal wanted for murder hostage while that man's brother and his gang try to break him out.
Some research tells me that during the later part of his career, Howard Hawks began feeling that all the stories had been told, so he started cutting down the plot to bare bones (which can be a bit off putting initially) and letting the films work as near plotless things with characters just hanging out and going for that type of filmmaking that would become really big with art house cinema.
I think it is kinda cool now sicne I have let it set in, but initially, this kinda bugged me. I do like that type of things once in a while, but I guess I jsut wasn't in the mood for it when I watched this. Maybe I owe it a rewatch or something. I did like this film, but I don't really think it's a masterpiece, at least not yet.
It's cool just hanging out with the characters, and i get why this is called a hang out movie, yet I felt kinda underwhelmed. Not really bored, but there could have been more character development, or more for the characters to do. There are moments of tension and suspense, but not as much as there could or should have been.
Wayne is good, and doesn't totally just play the "John Wayne role". I also liked that he wears the same hat he's been weating ever since Stagecoach. Martin is surprisingly really good as the drunk turned straight, and Brennan is rather enjoyable (if a tad silly) as the comic relief. Angie Dickinson is also in this, and she's not bad (nice to look at), but they maybe could have given her a tad more to do.
I do think this is a well made movie, but it could have been better. Maybe now that I know what to expect, when (if) I rewatch it I'll be able to sit back, relax, and see exactly why this is so highly regarded, beyond what I've already mentioned, and the fact that it has some good music and cinematography.
Also, Hawks adds a dose of realism to the film by having characters feel physically ill after a bout of violence.
However, other than the touching character studies, I never really got a sense of what was at stake during this battle between good and evil.
The so called villians aren't really explored and by the time we reach the climactic final shoot out, it becomes really hard to care about who wins.
This is made worse by Hawks' idealism, which often suffocates the realism that could have really made this film incredible. The good seem to always be in the right and one gets the feeling that Wayne's life is never at stake. In the final battle, Wayne is able to pretty much stand out in the open and experiences no danger. He is also able to hammer out any one liner he wants to, regardless of the impending doom.
Wayne's character is of the ilk that if a man is given a chance to do the right thing, he will. While I think this was probably a message that cold war audiences really needed to be fed, it detracts from the realism that Hawks explores elsewhere in the film. Sure Martin's character experiences hard times, but you know he will come surely come around.
I suppose I set myself up for failure by watching a lot of Italian Westerns before this. After spending so much time with morally ambivalent characters, these characters seem a little too puffy at times to be taken too seriously.
It is an entertaining watch and Hawks is a phenomenal storyteller, I just think tonally he wanted it all in this film and it makes it feel inconsistent.
Rio Bravo is about a small-town sheriff in the American West enlisting 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. The pacing starts out slow and stays simple for quite awhile but once things start getting interesting you'll be hooked into it. The characters are fleshed out and full of depth. They are funny, serious, flawed, and most of all have a interesting friendship between our heroes. I did feel that the character of Colorado had little to do and only appeared when the plot needed him. The plot keeps getting better the longer you watch it as it's filled with intelligent heroes and a equally intelligent outlaw. These outlaw don't simply just walk into a saloon and starts shooting up the place. These outlaws devise plans that are interesting to see unfolding and builds tension as you'll never sure if our heroes will make it out alive. The dialogue is great and becomes memorable thanks the cast delivery of them. It filled with enough humor to make it enjoyable even when the drama starts building up. The plot might start out slow but great deep characters and a plot that takes interesting turns makes it worth sitting through.
The ensemble cast have great chemistry on screen, especially when John Wayne and Dean Martin share scenes. Walter Brennan is hilarious as the comic foil, John Wayne does a great job playing himself, and Dean Martin plays the complex and troubled drunk man convincingly. Ricky Nelson was good as Colorado and manage to hold own screen convincingly with the legendary actors. He unfortunately didn't have much lines in the film which means you'll see him as part of the background. The cinematography is phenomenal doing more than just capturing the beauty of it scenery of it's setting. You'll always see characters placed in interesting places in a frame and adds atmospheric music to setup to scene if necessary to build a particular emotion. Great cinematography and a great cast helps Rio Bravo stand above in the Western gene.
Rio Bravo has a great plot, interesting characters, wonderful cast that deliver great performances as well being enjoyable in their roles, and perfect direction that does more than shows us great scenery. Rio Bravo is worth watching whether or not if you're a fan of Westerns.
Where did all the people of the little town go? They just disappear without any trace. My guess is that there was much more gun action than shown on screen and that many good citizens succumbed under the "friendly fire" of the forces of the law. John Wayne and his companions are nervous and extremely trigger happy, the sheriff's plan to hold out alone and wait for the Marshall to pass through the town does not seem to be dictated by common sense (there would have been alternatives) but by personal pride. There is no interaction whatsoever between him and the community he is supposed to serve. Frankly, the sheriff seems to be a pretty irresponsible guy with the mind of an adolescent - and responsibility was the main theme of High Noon, a film, it must be said, of a different league.
The main protagonists have to deliver long, winding, unnatural monologues as to their motives and feelings, which makes the movie also slow at times. This surplus of talk unfortunately does not give it or its message more substance but harms it suspense-wise. As for the performances, John Wayne is always John Wayne. He doesn't really act (Stagecoach the exception) but his mere presence just finalizes the job. Ricky Nelson was also a complete misfit, simply in this film because of his heartthrob status he had back then. Amidst the general mediocrity, the brilliant performance of Dean Martin (I was surprised since I heard he was a terrible actor) as the alcoholic who wants to regain his standing among men stands out clearly. The same can be said for the use of music which is beautiful but somewhat irrelevant. In the end, I found Rio Bravo unconvincing and filled with inconsistencies with the filmmaking; the only bright spot was Martins role.
** out of 4 stars
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