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Rio Bravo [DVD] 
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Classic western drama directed by Howard Hawks. Sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) is holding a murderous villain in his cell while waiting for a magistrate to collect him for trial. The criminal's associates are desperate to free him, and will stop at nothing to achieve their goal. Chance's only allies are his drunken deputy (Dean Martin), a wily old coot (Walter Brennan) and an eager young hothead (Rick Nelson).
When it comes down to naming the best Western of all time, the list usually narrows to three completely different pictures: Howard Hawks' Rio Bravo, Hawks' Red River and John Ford's The Searchers. About the only thing they all have in common is that they all star John Wayne. But while The Searchers is an epic quest for revenge and Red River, a sweeping cattle-drive drama, Rio Bravo is a much calmer film. Basically, it comes down to Sheriff John T Chance (Wayne), his alcoholic friend Dude (Dean Martin), the hotshot new kid Colorado (Ricky Nelson), and deputy-sidekick Stumpy (Walter Brennan), sittin' around in the town jail, drinkin' black coffee, shootin' the breeze, and occasionally singin' a song. Hawks--who, like his pal Ernest Hemingway, lived by the code of "grace under pressure"--said he made Rio Bravo as a rebuke to High Noon, in which sheriff Gary Cooper begged for townspeople to help him. So, Hawks made Wayne's Sheriff Chance a consummate professional--he may be getting old and fat, but he knows how to do his job, and he doesn't want amateurs getting mixed up in his business; they could get hurt. If the configuration of characters sounds familiar, it should: Hawks remade Rio Bravo two more times--as El Dorado in 1967, with Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and James Caan; and as Rio Lobo in 1970, with Wayne, Jack Elam, and Christopher Mitchum. The film achieved additional notoriety in the 90s when Quentin Tarantino revealed that he uses it as a litmus test for prospective girlfriends. --Jim Emerson, Amazon.comSee all Product Description
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The Blu Ray version is disappointing print wise for the opening credits - there's blocking, speckles on the print etc, but thankfully it doesn't stay that way for long. Although there are other weak points in the transfer later on in the movie, for about 90 % of the time I'd say it looks really good - not great - but certainly better than any other version of it that I've ever seen.
There's a night time sequence where one of the bad guys hiding out in a barn near the prison tries to shoot John Wayne - it cuts to Dutch outside worried about his friend inside - the clarity of sweat and dirt on Dean Martin is wonderful to see - and startling. When John Wayne stops Angie Dickenson at her bedroom door suspected of card shark tricks in the saloon she's just left below, her face and clothing look sensational too (what a beautiful woman she was). But then in other places there's a disappointing feeling of the focus being slightly off or the print's vibrancy being washed out.
It might just be that in 1959 the colour process was not quite there yet, but you can't help but feel that if this negative had been given real care and effort - the print would have been a genuine joy to look at - rather than being something that just elicits the word 'good' out of you every now and then.
"Rio Bravo" is a very good transfer to Blu Ray, but like so many oldies that aren't treated to proper restoration, you can't help but feel that an opportunity was missed here - because it's a Western that's stood the test of time.
If you're a fan of the movie, no doubt you've already made up your mind and ordered this disc; if you've never seen RIO BRAVO before and are considering ordering the DVD, please do so--you won't regret it, and you'll see how one of the best examples of how movies used to be made, and perhaps more importantly how more modern movies should be made.
This is ostensibly John Wayne's film, as he's the star, but the film's main character is really Dean Martin's drunken ex-deputy. His efforts to regain his pride and lost standing, both in his own mind and in the eyes of his friend (Wayne) make up the backbone of the story. Dean Martin, who was never taken seriously as an actor, here gives a terrific performance. His sweaty, humiliated 'Dude' is touching without ever being sentimental. Dude's eventual redemption, when he pursues a wounded gun-man into a bar crowded with men who'd previously laughed at him, is thrilling.
The film nicely undermines Wayne's iconic masculinity. In several scenes, the sheriff finds himself gently mocked by Angie Dickinson's attractive gambler (the one person in the film he can't get the better of). It's also the only film I can think of in which John Wayne kisses another man (a slight peck on the top of Walter Brennan's bald head).
Leading them all is Wayne in one of his most relaxed, iconic performances. He is as straight as a arrow and uncorruptable. What really makes this fun though is his growing romance with Angie Dickinson's saloon moll. Wayne and Dickinson do the usual Hollywood dance, but with enough sassy dialogue and feeling to make one wonder why they didn't appear more together on celluloid. Add to this great action scenes and it all adds up to a great movie.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have large collection of John Wayne films my previous one got badly scratched when the DVD drive on my computer broke, so it had to be replaced, Angie Dickinson at her best, very... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Roger L