Under The Radar: Rio Bravo Sets The Tone For Westerns
There were countless western films which came before Rio Bravo in 1959, and countless have been made since. However, none of them were anywhere near as inspiring as the Howard Hawks masterpiece which has been credited by many as the foundation upon which all other westerns are made, and the measuring stick against which all have been judged.
Since its release 58 years ago, it has inspired a number of other films, and was even remade twice (to limited success) in 1966's El Dorado, and 1970's Rio Lobo. That's two remakes in just over 11 years, which in and of itself tells you just how insanely good this movie was.
It takes place in a tiny western town where crime has been running rampant due to a large group of western thugs. When the head thug's brother is arrested by John T. Chance (John Wayne), the rest of the group decide that they are going to fly in the face of the law and get back their compatriot using force. With only the help of a drunken bar fly named Dude (Dean Martin), an Elvis ripoff named Colorado (Ricky Nelson), a hobbled old guy named Stumpy (Walter Brennan), and a promiscuous card sharp named Feathers (Angie Dickenson), John Wayne takes on all of these thugs in classic badass fashion, culminating in an explosive final conflict.
It's interesting to note that this is the film which launched Dean Martin's career as a serious actor. When he broke up his classic comedy duo with Jerry Lewis, everyone in Hollywood predicted that Jerry would flourish without Dean, and Dean would go back to singing in empty clubs in Atlantic City. Dean answered by giving an incredibly convincing performance as a talented gun fighter trying to overcome his alcoholism, and the rest is history. Additionally, Dominic DeAngelo and myself met Angie Dickenson last year (yes she is still alive) and she was more than happy to make casual conversation with us about her time filming this masterpiece.
If you haven't taken the time to watch this movie, absolutely pick it up as a fun, relaxed Friday night flick.