“Next time they’ll shoot first and laugh afterwards.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Response to Peary’s Review:
He adds that “Hawks’s men are allowed to be scared, but, like Dude, they must put themselves on the line when scared to prove they are worthy men to themselves and their male friends.” For Hawks, “a man is defined not by how well he relates to women — he is mystified by them — but by how well he handles pressure and reacts to danger. It’s okay that Dude (the film’s pivotal character) wants help from his friends, but when the chips are down and they need his assistance, Dude must be dependable. Along with the word ‘proficient,’ ‘dependable’ is how Hawks defines ‘good,’ the highest rating a person can have in a Hawks film.” Peary points out that Rio Bravo “has many terrific scenes,” and asserts it remains “one of the all-time great westerns.”
I’m essentially in agreement with Peary’s review (excerpted from his longer analysis in his first Cult Movies book), and I consider this a must-see film on numerous levels. However, it’s a film I admire more than enjoy — perhaps because I tend to prefer more economical westerns that pack a punch in ~1.5 hours (Rio Bravo is a leisurely 141 minutes). I’m most impressed by Martin’s performance: he shows true depth of character as an alcoholic wracked by hand-shaking nerves and tremens, who knows his reputation has gone down the drain and is willing to push past his own failings to step up to the work that needs doing.
It’s also enormously refreshing to know a happy ending awaits our motley crew; this makes watching the suspenseful, well-filmed final shoot-out just that much more exciting.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
(Listed in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die)