Written by Films

Rio Bravo

Spurred on by the Top Ten List below, I decided it was time to get around to watching a couple of films that I’ve had on video for ages but unbelievably have never gotten around to watching.

There’s a game in David Lodge novels where academics in English departments have to name works of literature that they’ve never read – Hamlet, Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick etc. The winner is the person who has not watched the most famous work. Hamlet normally does this.

So I get to do the cinema equivalent. I like to think of myself as fairly well versed in cinema, but here is one of those films that I just had not seen before. OK, it’s entirely probable that I was in a room somewhere when I was young and it was on TV, but that doesn’t count. Even the fact that it’s regarded as one of the best films by one of my favourite directors hadn’t prevented me from never having watched Rio Bravo before.

I suppose one of the reasons that I’d not seen it is that it stars John Wayne. I just never have been a big “Duke” fan. In fact I’ve probably gone out of my way to avoid watching him in films – they just always seem the same. He was, however, undoubtedly made for the Western. He plays Sheriff John T Chance in a small town over-run with the Burdette gang – and chance has locked up Joe, one of the brothers. With only Dean Martin’s washed-up drunk, the Dude, and Walter Brennan’s comic character Stumpy, Chance must wait until the US Marshal arrives with Joe locked up, and brother Nathan Burdette looking to free him. This is the classic set-up.

I’d never seen Angie Dickenson in such a good movie. Dean Martin too is excellent (although I’m not at all sure about the musical interlude). Then there’s Ricky Nelson as sharpshooter Colarado, and you have a classic western. I was hooked. Loved it.