RIO BRAVO

(1959)
With John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond
Directed by Howard Hawks
Reviewed by JL

Rio Bravo      RIO BRAVO is a classic Western that was made in response to another classic Western.  Director Howard Hawks and star John Wayne were not among the many admirers of Fred Zinneman's HIGH NOON (1952), feeling that its tale of a town marshal (Gary Cooper) who must beg the cowardly locals for help in a gunfight was not exactly a depiction of human character at its noblest.  RIO BRAVO, then, presents HIGH NOON's premise in reverse: Sheriff John T. Chance (Wayne) must protect prisoner Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) from a band of hired guns, and he is determined to do the job he was elected to do without help, explaining, "Joe Burdette isn't worth one of those that would get killed."  RIO BRAVO is clean, economical storytelling at its best, consistently engrossing despite a 141-minute running time.  Wayne, superb as ever, heads a memorable cast with standout performances by Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, and, in his final film, Ward Bond.  Though Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson might not be up to the dramatic demands of their roles, the film is so good you wind up liking them anyway.   - JL

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