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4.2 out of 5 stars48
4.2 out of 5 stars
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 January 2011
Out of Paramount Pictures, Rio Lobo is directed and produced by Howard Hawks (the last film he would direct) and stars John Wayne, Jorge Rivero, Jeniffer O'Neill, Jack Elam & Christopher Mitchum. It's written by Leigh Brackett & Burton Wohl, musically scored by Jerry Goldsmith and photographed by William H. Clothier on location at Cuernavaca, Mexico & Tuscon, Arizona. It's the third film in a loose trilogy by Hawks & Wayne that follows Rio Bravo (1959) & El Dorado (1966). Plot follows Wayne as Union officer Cord McNally who loses gold shipments (via the railway) to Confederate guerrillas led by Pierre Cordona (Rivero) & Tuscarora Phillips (Mitchum). It's the start of a relationship that will see all parties end up in Rio Lobo, Texas, where a traitor and a despotic sheriff are in their midst.

Rio Lobo is easily the weakest Western that Hawks made with Duke Wayne. He himself would say that he didn't like the film, felt it wasn't any good, while Wayne himself was quoted as saying that he had already made the film twice before. Almost everything about Rio Lobo is tired, from the formula of the story to Wayne sleepwalking thru a role that held no challenge, it's a poor send off for one of America's finest directors. The script is solid enough, with many Hawksian themes evident; and it's nice to see the three lady characters be important to the story, but the cast put around Wayne are poor and out of their depth and this rubs off on the normally professional Wayne who finds he has nothing to act off of.

It's not a total stinker, tho, certainly Clothier's photography and Goldsmith's score are worthy of investing time with, and the lead off sequence involving the train robbery is well put together and stirs the adrenalin. Sadly the film is never able to reach those heights again, with the ending a rather tame affair that doesn't do justice to the bitter revenge tone that Hawks has steered the film towards. Of the sub-standard support cast there's only Jack Elam who is worth watching, be it for comedy value or for just giving it some gusto. All told the film just about comes out as watchable Sunday afternoon fodder. A running theme in the film sees fun poked at the ageing Wayne's expense, one of which involves the word comfortable. That is an apt word to use for Rio Lobo, because director and star are in the comfort zone, comfortably making an unchallenging and old hat movie. 5/10
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38 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on 11 July 2004
This 1970 western marked the end of director Howard Hawks carrer. Although this film is not as good as the previous classic Hawks westerns(Red River, Rio Bravo or El Dorado) and this one as a story line similar to Rio Bravo and El Dorado, it is a nice western one of the last made in a classic Hollywood style.
Beguining at the end of the civil war with a fantastic train robbing sequence, Rio Lobo gives Wayne one more chance to display his carisma and blow off the screen the young actors that appear in this picture.
Also with veteran Jack Elam in an amusing role that reprises the Walter Brennan caracther in Rio Bravo.
The dvd presents a nice copy of the film with mono sound and lots of subtitles but being one of Hawks and Waynes westerns and the last film of the director it should have had a documentary. Essential for Wayne/Western/Hawks fans.
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on 7 November 2015
Sad end to a great directorial career, "Rio Lobo" did Howard Hawks's stellar reputation no favors at all. Theoretically, it should've been one of the great Westerns; in reality, it was, as John Wayne himself remarked, "not much good at all -- I didn't like it".

Quite how a Western headlined by Wayne (with Jack Elam alongside), written by Leigh Brackett, photographed by Bill Clothier and with 2nd Unit direction in Yakima Canutt's safe hands could turn out to be so hapless is something of a minor miracle in itself, though clues do abound, not merely in the downright awfulness of Jorge Rivero's non-existent acting skills and Christopher Mitchum's almost wholly unintelligible performance but in the way that Hawks handles one of the most difficult tasks faced by every movie director:

How to film a group of people walking out of a room. . .

Most often, wise directors either eschew exits altogether unless they serve a dramatic purpose, or wise editors cut out the footage in post-production. The reason why this happens is simple enough to understand: no matter how skilled one might be in the directorial art, or how brilliant a performer on stage or on camera, it's as impossible for a director to do anything with a shot of the backs of a lot of men shuffling out through a doorway as it is for an actor to bring anything in the way of a performance to that exit. (Try it some time -- if you're an aspirant director -- and see what you get: the result will, in a very literal sense, be. . . pedestrian.)

Back in his hey day, Hawks by instinct and by craft knew more about film-making than most other Hollywood directors. By 1970, however, when "Rio Lobo" was so ill-advisedly made -- remember: this is three years *after* Leone's "Once Upon A Time In The West" had forever rewritten the Western fairy tale -- Hawks was 74 years old and perhaps more focused on re-visiting his earlier, original Western triumph -- the wonderful "Rio Bravo" of 1959 -- than on investing anything new in "Rio Lobo".

A pity, then, that no-one appears to have pointed out during production that the reins of this particular Western were no longer in safe hands, something which one glance at the rushes of that trio of dismal performances by Rivero, Mitchum and Jennifer O'Neill would have instantly confirmed. Brackett seems also to have been losing her grip: for so long a doyenne of the art of screen writing, "Rio Lobo" is easily the worst piece she ever penned, its tone uncertain, its momentum hesitant, its credibility absent. Clothier seems to have had very little to do and Canutt's involvement doesn't register at all. All that's left is Wayne playing Wayne -- and nothing wrong with that -- though in muted form, and the magnificent Elam camping it up in a performance that actually erases all others from the screen, a joy to watch though an unsettling reminder of the magnitude of difference between this effort from Hawks and the earlier one from Leone (in which Elam's attempts to trap a fly in the barrel of his gun remains one of the most felicitous sequences in Western movie history.)

Verdict: Hawks's last film, and one which he deserves better than for it to be remembered.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 10 March 2012
I won't waste time reviewing the film, as most of you will have seen this countless times, and concentrate on the Blu Ray itself.

The picture:
The transfer is superb, far superior to the recent Horse Soldiers Blu Ray release, the picture is bright, rich and not overly sharpened. The blacks are pretty solid and the picture holds together in the dark passages, there is obvious grain in certain scenes but this should be expected due to the age of the film.

The sound:
5.1 surround on a John Wayne film! They've done a pretty good job on this, adding sound effects and splitting the soundtrack to give it a sense of space, the spurs literally jump out of the speakers and Jerry Goldsmith's score sounds superb! Don't expect this to be like a modern film, it's not true 5.1 but it does the job.

If only they could enhance the woeful acting by Jennifer O'Neil, however pretty she was I've see chairs with more talent, and a pretty poor effort by Jorge Rivero, the film would get 4 stars. Look out for Mike 'Tarzan' Henry as a sheriff!

All in all an excellent Blu Ray release which is encouraging for future John Wayne releases. 3 out of 5 for the film, taken up to 4 out of 5 as looks and sounds so, so good it actually enhances the watching experience.
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on 1 July 2013
Thank you for the copy of this disc which arrived promptly on the day and exactly the time given by the carrier I've always been a fan of this movie and cannot understand why people put it down. So what if Wayne strolls through it on auto pilot, who cares. He strolled through a lot of his later films on auto pilot --- even "True Grit" -- and they gave him an Oscar for that stroll. Wayne is Wayne and you get what you expect from him in his movies. You either like him or dislike him --- and I like him. The transfer to Blu-ray is satisfactory -- I've seen worse -- and the sound is clear and crisp. Four stars is fair for me. Thanks again Amazon'
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 7 January 2009
I've been watching a few John wayne westerns and saw this cheap in the Zavvi clear-out sale. After the initial Civil war set train robbery, the thing degenerates into a nineteen seventies Western TV show in terms of acting and production values. Any time Jennifer O'Neal is on screen is a bad time.

John Wayne and Jack Elam do their best, but this is a real stinker. Compare and contrast with 'Fort Apache', 'She Wore a Yellow Ribbon' and 'The Searchers' or - if John Ford's not your taste - 'Rio Bravo' and 'True Grit.'

Painful, but two stars as the train robbery opening is pretty good.
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on 20 February 2012
John Wayne films are just great Ive seen most of them but needed to add this one to my collection, I had not seen it for a while, just as I remembered it to be great.
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on 26 July 2014
Bought this as a gift, big smiles received all around. Packaged well and received on time. Thank you sooooooo much to all concerned. Excellent bargain.
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on 22 May 2013
Not one of the Duke's best films - I saw it at the cinema upin it's relesae and really enjoyed it - seems a bit dated now but still worth a rewatch.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2011
The third film (1971) in a trilogy directed by Howard Hawks, varying the idea of a sheriff defending his office against belligerent outlaw elements in the town: the other two films were Rio Bravo (1959) and El Dorado (1966), both also starring John Wayne (Wikipdedia). Hawks' last film of 47 (sic), among which Sergeant York, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep, Red River, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Rio Lobo is a praiseworthy last work of a great director; it is also better than its predecessors in the trilogy. Starts in the last days of the American Civil War (1861-65). Wayne, still quite youthful and far away from his last films with an oxygen tent nearby, starts as a Cavalry Colonel, who has a Union payroll train under his command. Despite all precautions, he train falls to the Confederates - clearly by a Union traitor in collaboration with some Confederate officers.

Well, Wayne is angry and morally annoyed, and swears to catch the gangsters: This is a case of treason, not war! His tracing leads him to the town of Rio Lobo, where, after many complications and the help of a number of younger women living in the area on their own - this is late horse only time, as railways have moved in, and also a late men only West - he achieves his target. The emancipation element, by the way, thanks to Hawks' discipline, is treated as a matter of fact (and is hence more impressive, though some female acting is a bit bouncy), and we are also spared sloganeering on the subject.

Acting, camera &c all ok. Five stars, even today, forty years later.
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