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Author Topic: Rio Bravo (1959)  (Read 41978 times)
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« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2008, 11:09:40 AM »

Without these (holly)woodish, makwish movies Leone couldn't have come on the scene so forcefully. This movie, as good as it is in places, helps you more than any other artifacts to get the difference. I mean, here you have 2 singing cowboys, not 1: it is incredible, if you think about it (though. like me, you like the songs and the singers). And Wayne still playing the beau: but in Hollywood they still go for the same because it should attract female audiences. The saloon scene is masterful but you keep crying vainly for more of same. As I said in another thread, El Dorado is much better, though still hollywoodish. Brian Garfield, most notable SW detractor, treats this worse than any Leone.

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« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2008, 12:17:33 PM »

This movie, as good as it is in places, helps you more than any other artifacts to get the difference. I mean, here you have 2 singing cowboys, not 1: it is incredible, if you think about it (though. like me, you like the songs and the singers). And Wayne still playing the beau: but in Hollywood they still go for the same because it should attract female audiences. The saloon scene is masterful but you keep crying vainly for more of same. As I said in another thread, El Dorado is much better, though still hollywoodish.
Word.

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« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2008, 06:43:42 PM »

After a careful examination I see I probably confused you with someone else.

I know you're a cranky old bastard but are there any films you DO like Jenkins?

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« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2008, 08:16:16 PM »

You are right grogs, fixed it to Howard Hawks.

As far as Walter Brennan, you had to be there he was playing the same shtick as Grandpa McCoy on an awful TV series "The Real McCoys" and his limp and goofy hooting got old quick, so he was basically reprising that role in Rio Bravo.

http://imdb.com/title/tt0050053/

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsR1D-uPanM

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« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2008, 01:37:44 AM »

I know you're a cranky old bastard but are there any films you DO like Jenkins?
Those by Leone, Hitchcock, Ozu, Naruse, Bresson, Herzog . . . .

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« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2008, 10:23:53 AM »

I thought you didn't like most Herzog films because you thought they lacked a second act? Was that just Aguirre?

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« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2008, 11:21:58 AM »

 Rio Bravo is one of my favorite John Wayne movies even if some of the cast is pretty grating, especially Angie Dickinson but even with her it depends on what mood I'm in watching the movie.  Ricky Nelson wasn't gonna win any Oscars, but he was okay.  Deano is great as Dude and Walter Brennan is hilarious.  My favorite part is definitely when Stumpy is complaining about how badly he's treated and that Chance and Dude take him for granted.  Chance's reply,"You're right, Stumpy, you're a treasure" and kisses him on the top of his head!  I love the Duke doing comedy.

 Speaking of RB, does anyone know the role Harry Carey Jr was supposed to play?  IMDB says his scenes were deleted, and I've always been curious.

  Lucky for me, I got to see this in theaters two summers ago.  It's not like The Searchers or OUATITW where the big screen is needed to appreciate the movie, but it was worth the price of admission for sure. Afro

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« Reply #22 on: March 11, 2008, 11:54:25 AM »

I thought you didn't like most Herzog films because you thought they lacked a second act? Was that just Aguirre?
Your comment intrigued me, so I went back to the Aguirre thread to see what I'd written. Here's the remark you alluded to:
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I like Aguirre (hence my presence on this thread) but it's always struck me as a film with no second act. Great beginning and finish, but a bit of a meander in the middle. This is often the problem with Herzog's features, as he is an intuitive creator but with a limited story sense. I am thinking here of Heart of Glass, Kaspar Hauser, Fitzcaraldo, all of which begin and end well but seem to be missing something in the center. Nosferatu, as a remake of a film with a strong story, doesn't have this problem.
I stand by this statement, but ask you to note that although I fault Herzog on his story construction, that alone does not outweigh his other virtues as a filmmaker. Second-act problems would be fatal to most other directors; I find, however, that I like Herzog features in spite of the failing.

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« Reply #23 on: March 11, 2008, 01:07:13 PM »

I love Stroszek, Aguirre and Fitzcarraldo. I think they are pretty much perfect films despite any meandering. I think his style, when it succeeds, is a thing of beauty. I love the first 40-50 mins of Nosferatu but I find the second half to completely sputter out and lose focus. Same with Woyzeck. Granted, I need to see more of his movies to have a true opinion of his career, but I understand the lack of a second act comment; it's just that I feel his movies (well the three I love) need a lack of plot development in the 2nd Act for its climax or payoff to properly succeed. I think the second act, more than anything, is best suited for nature and/or the character's environment. That's why I think it's so hard to stay consistent with this method of filmmaking, tippy-toeing the line of narrative and documentary. I think it's much easier to lean more in one direction than the other, someone like Ulrich Seidl comes to mind. I think that's why I admire Herzog so much.

Fitzcarraldo is obviously much more of a straight narrative than Stroszek and Aguirre, that's why I think it's much easier to digest for most people.

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« Reply #24 on: May 12, 2008, 12:05:17 AM »

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The “Duke” and Democracy: On John Wayne
By Charles Taylor
ONE OF THE great joys of the movies is their ability to convince us that we know the people on screen. Even the varied performances of the most versatile stars are often not strong enough to prevail against the overarching image we’ve formed of them. When Joan Didion met John Wayne on the set of the 1965 The Sons of Katie Elder, she wrote of having the sense that his face was more familiar to her than her husband’s.

And yet Wayne, whose centenary occurred this past spring, remains in some ways the most undefined of iconic movie stars. When we say we “know” Humphrey Bogart or Greta Garbo, or George Clooney or Julia Roberts, we’re talking about the intimacy we feel from having watched them at work. But much of what’s “known” of John Wayne depends on ignoring what’s on screen.

To the left, Wayne has always been close to a comic-book version of American power in all its swaggering crudeness. That his screen persona was neither swaggering nor crude hardly mattered. It was easier to think of Wayne as something like the vigilante of the plains—macho, indomitable, always in the right, ordering women and Indians around because that’s the way God planned it.

It’s inevitable that with nearly two hundred pictures to his credit (Wayne’s 1939 breakthrough, John Ford’s Stagecoach was his eightieth movie), some of Wayne’s roles do fit the traditional macho hero mold. But the image that persists of him seems more reinforced by things like his public support of conservative causes, as well as by his directing and starring in the pro-Vietnam War picture The Green Berets. And it’s been reinforced by the fact that Wayne worked primarily in Westerns, the most frequently, and often baselessly, stereotyped of movie genres.

”John Wayne represents more force, more power than anyone else on the screen,” his frequent director Howard Hawks once said. A performer who wields that kind of force, and has a physical presence to match, does not provide nuanced pleasure. But only the crudest reading would reduce the overwhelming force of Wayne’s persona to gung-ho cheerleading for American right and American might. To be true to the contradictions and moral ambiguities of Wayne’s best performances—Stagecoach, Red River, The Searchers, True Grit, El Dorado—you’d have to say he stands not so much for American power as for the American experiment—and thus for the possibility that it could all go wrong.

And in Howard Hawks’s 1959 Rio Bravo, the director’s masterpiece (now out in a beautifully remastered DVD from Warner Bros.), Wayne gave us the richest, most likable, and probably the most daring version of his screen persona. The story, by the veteran screenwriters Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman, couldn’t be simpler. Joe Burdett, the youngest brother of ruthless power broker Nathan Burdett, kills an unarmed man in cold blood. Sheriff John T. Chance (Wayne) arrests Joe, intending to hold him in the local jail for the six days it will take the marshall to arrive and transport Joe to trial. Burdett, rich enough to believe the law doesn’t apply to him, orders his men to bottle up the town. His plan is to bust Joe out and kill anyone who stands in their way. Chance’s only help comes from his two deputies, the once-capable Dude (Dean Martin), who’s been in a heartbroken alcoholic stupor for two years, and the elderly, crippled Stumpy (Walter Brennan), swindled out of his land by Burdett years ago.

The inspiration for Rio Bravo came from perhaps the most praised of Westerns, Fred Zinnemann’s 1952 High Noon. High-Minded Noon it might have been called. Existing for no other reason than to impart a lesson in good citizenship, High Noon was a transparent metaphor for the failure of Americans to stand up to Joe McCarthy. Hawks hated it. Narratively, Hawks felt it made no sense for Gary Cooper’s sheriff to spend the movie soliciting the townspeople’s help to fend off the killers coming for him only to prove, in the end, that he didn’t need help. Hawks was offended by the idea that a sheriff would endanger the lives of the people he was meant to protect by trying to recruit them to save his skin.

So Hawks made a movie in which Wayne’s sheriff turns down the help offered him, and needs it at every turn. In other words, it was another of Hawks’s celebrations of the sustaining communities that are at the heart of his best films. Over and over, Hawks tells the stories of disparate individuals who, by necessity or fluke, drift together into groups that meld their professional and personal lives. The ad hoc communities of Only Angels Have Wings, To Have and Have Not, The Thing . . . From Another World, Hatari!, and El Dorado are held together by an unspoken ethos that values competence, confidence, resourcefulness, respect and self-respect, stern generosity, shared good humor, empathy, and the ability to recognize and appreciate those qualities in others. Human frailty (Dean Martin’s alcoholism in Rio Bravo; Walter Brennan’s in To Have and Have Not) is acknowledged but never judged to be the sum of a person’s character. Women are assumed to be every bit as capable as men. Hawks recognized the differences between responsibility and duty, sympathy and pity, honesty and cruelty, individualism and selfishness.

None of this is conveyed in the speeches or grand gestures common to prestige pictures.. Instead these values are conveyed in the smallest moments. The dramatic weight in Rio Bravo is reserved for the moments when the characters’ faith in each other, or in themselves, is tested. The suspense of the sequence where Dude and Chance follow a killer into Burdett’s saloon doesn’t come from whether or not they’ll get him, but from whether Dude is going to be able to recover his confidence enough to keep in charge of the situation. Each incident flows so unobtrusively into the next that you’re scarcely aware of structure, but so delighted by the supreme relaxation of the performers (particularly Martin, who’s superb) that you’re never bored.

GIVEN THE traditional solitary nature of the Western hero, Wayne would seem to be the wrong choice for a Western that celebrates community. And in our first glimpse of Wayne, a low-angle shot, he literally towers over us. The point of view is Dude’s. Broke and in bad need of a drink, he slinks into a saloon where Joe Burdett cruelly tosses a gold piece into a spittoon. Dude stoops down to fish it out only for a boot to kick the spittoon away from him. Looking up, Dude sees Chance, whose stern face conveys both disgust that anyone could sink so low and the conviction that no one need do so.

A conventional director might have followed through with Dude steadying himself, rising to his feet, and walking out of the bar, still dry but with his remaining dignity intact. Hawks, the iconoclast, gives us something more unexpected, and truer to the desperation born of weakness: Dude waiting for Chance to turn his back before clubbing him unconscious.

That action undercuts any potential for the scene to turn into Dude’s sentimental redemption. But just a few moments later, proving Chance’s implicit admonition that he can pull himself up from the depths, Dude saves Chance’s life when the Burdett men have the sheriff surrounded.

Chance is the heroic figure whose self-sufficiency inspires the others to rise above their shortcomings. But because this is a celebration of democracy, the result isn’t a race of isolated heroes but a community in which the strength of each individual buoys up everyone else. Even Chance, the strongest person in the movie, can’t do without those people. “You start,” Hawks said of casting the movie, “with the idea that if you don’t get a damn good actor with Wayne, he’s going to blow him right off the screen, not just by the fact that he’s good, but by his power, his strength.” Hawks’s faith in the cast he assembled here mirrors Chance’s faith in his comrades. He may inspire them to rise to their feet, as he does with Dude, but each one is finally capable of standing alongside him.
Cont.

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« Reply #25 on: May 12, 2008, 12:06:26 AM »

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PART OF THE beauty of Wayne’s performance here is the way, even when Chance is refusing help, he never undervalues others. When Chance’s friend, the cattleman Wheeler (the inevitable Ward Bond), derides his deputies by asking, “A bum-legged old man and a drunk—that’s all you’ve got?” Chance answers, “That’s what I’ve got.” It’s the single best line reading of Wayne’s career. There’s a world of respect in the weight he puts on that one word, “what,” an irreducible sense of people’s worth as individuals. Bill Clinton might have been instinctively paraphrasing Wayne with the phrase he kept repeating during his 1992 campaign, “We don’t have a person to waste.”

By contrast, when Dude finds a fifty-dollar gold piece on one of Nathan Burdett’s hired killers he says, “That’s just about what Burdett would figure a man’s life would be worth.” Rio Bravo pits Chance’s refusal to discount people against the cynical appraisal of the Nathan Burdetts of the world.

“When you’ve got some talent, your job is to use it,” Hawks said. He was answering the people who’d criticized him for giving Ricky Nelson a song in the film. But he could have been articulating his own delight in the people he gathers in front of his camera, his respect for them as individuals. And that’s the key to the profound inclusiveness of Rio Bravo. The characters who save Chance’s life—not just a bum-legged old man and a drunk, but Nelson’s teenage gunslinger, and Feathers, an independent woman who lives her life as she chooses, played by Angie Dickinson—are all discounted by a society that sees what they are without bothering to find out who they are.

And Hawks pushes that even further, undercutting Chance, the authority figure who is valued for what he is, by making him prone to harried misjudgments. That’s most apparent in Wayne’s scenes with Angie Dickinson, an extended comic duet in which she gets under his skin just by smiling sweetly in the manner of a woman more amused than impressed by his bluster. In one remarkable sequence a card game in which Feathers is winning turns out to be rigged, and Chance accuses her of being the cheat. He’s wrong. The only evidence he has to go on is a handbill sent out by a sheriff describing a woman who sounds like Feathers and the card sharp she travels with. It turns out that Feathers is the man’s widow, and he became a cheat only after falling on hard times. She’s on the up and up, but this handbill follows her from town to town, making trouble. When she asks Chance what she can do about that, he tells her to stop playing cards and to stop wearing feathers. “No,” she says. “I’m not going to do that. Because that’s what I’d do if I was the type of girl you think I am.” And, true to his better nature, as well as to Hawks’s faith in people to get past their shortsightedness, Chance is chastened.

Hawks would offer another celebration of the group three years later in his rambling African adventure Hatari! And in 1967 he’d rework the main elements of Rio Bravo into El Dorado, a raucous and grimly comic Western about the decrepitude of age. If the frequent sequences where the screen is bordered in black and James Caan reciting Poe’s line “Down the valley of the shadow” weren’t unsettling enough, there was Wayne, a few years after winning his initial battle against cancer, once more undercutting the image of the invincible hero by playing scenes in which he seizes up and becomes paralyzed—as if we were watching him suffer a stroke.

But it’s Rio Bravo that remains Hawks’s deepest expression of his delight in people, and his warmest, most casual vision of the ordinary and profound ways they lift each other up. Rio Bravo rejects the notion that there are people who can be thrown away. When the film critic Robin Wood was writing about the movie, he said, “If I were asked to choose a film that would justify the existence of Hollywood, I think it would be Rio Bravo.” Let me offer my own overstatement: If I were asked to choose a film that would justify the idea of America, it would be Rio Bravo.

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« Reply #26 on: July 08, 2008, 02:28:07 AM »

I'm watching this film right now. Oh my, it drags!
It's enjoyable, but slooooow. And too much talking for my liking. They could have done better by showing some of the things they talk about; like when Feathers refuses to leave. Why on earth do we have to listen to all that talking about it? Why didn't they shoot a scene of Carlos trying to put her into the stagecoach and let us have more fun? OK, it would be silly, too, but then what's the point of having such scene there anyway?
Let's see how it goes on.

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« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2008, 03:15:07 AM »

I think I've watched this at least three times but I've never understood all the rave about it. Yes it drags to begin with, plus the romance makes it drag even more. And those singing scenes... But it's anyway pretty solid, I'd give it 7/10. Both Wayne and Hawks have made better movies.

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« Reply #28 on: July 08, 2008, 03:44:26 AM »

But I think it's one of the things Support Your Local Sheriff is making fun of, and as such it's worth it. Grin

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« Reply #29 on: July 14, 2008, 10:38:06 AM »

I think Rio Bravo is a great movie and the pacing is perfect.

I have only three gripes about the movie. First of all, Ricky Nelson sucked plain and simple, his acting was just horrendous. Second of all, the villains were not all that intimidating and didn't have enough screentime. I know the focus was on the heros side of the story but they could've made the opposing faction more threatening. Third of all ( and this is my biggest gripe ) I LOATHED Angie Dickinson's character. She had absolutely no purpose in the movie except to make the women crowd happy with a romance scene or two. Her character was completely irrelevant and every scene she's in just brings the excellent pace of the film to a screeching halt.


But with those slight faults aside, Rio Bravo is a great film. I can't decide on whether or not Rio Bravo or El Dorado is the better of Hawks' work.

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