Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Rio Bravo (1959)

Fans of director John Carpenter are well-acquainted with the director's love of the work of director Howard Hawks (1896-1977). Hawks, who had directed arguably his greatest film Rio Bravo (1959) and earlier The Thing From Another World (1951) for science fiction, was a direct inspiration to Carpenter's own Assault On Precinct 13 (1976), a reimagining of the siege spirit of Hawks' own Rio Bravo, but only resembling it in siege structure.

Even Carpenter's The Thing (1982) drew inspiration from Hawks though The Thing is more directly linked in flavor to John Campbell's short story Who Goes There? (1938).

Despite any real obvious correlations, Carpenter insists Hawks' work influenced the visual and creative mind of the man (Halloween, The Fog, Prince Of Darkness) and as such John Carpenter joined film critic Richard Schickel (of left leaning Time Magazine) for the audio commentary on the Blu-ray release for Rio Bravo.

After a dismal weekend of film viewing (Enemy Of The State, The Master), Rio Bravo saved the day.

Cinematic Wonders' appreciation of film expands into the work of Hawks and John Wayne beginning with this timeless classic.

Until Rio Bravo I'm not certain I'd even seen a John Wayne film in its entirety. I'm happy to report that a course correction is now under way.

Rio Bravo not only delivers a strong story and magnificent cinematography with solid performances across the board it actually implements two singers to complete that mission alongside John Wayne in Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson. And it does so with great effect. My Rifle, My Pony, And Me is a delight by Martin and Nelson, a song with additional lyrics set over a tune originally heard in Hawks' own Red River (1948; also starring John Wayne and Walter Brennan). Both artists are also surprisingly good in the picture.

The fabulous Walter Brennan adds some well-timed comedic spice to the mix.

Finally, Angie Dickinson tops off the cast and is a true goddess of cinema to behold. Like these films they don't make them like her anymore. She's a beauty and a sight for sore eyes punished by modern cinema spectacles.

So bravo for Rio Bravo, a wonderfully robust bit of genre storytelling in the Old West centered in Rio Bravo, Texas. The film is considered the heroic counterpoint to the McCarthy-era critique that was considered High Noon (1952). It would be writer Jules Furthman's final screenplay and as such was joined by co-writer Leigh Brackett who would one day co-write The Empire Strikes Back (1980), believe it or not, with Lawrence Kasdan, one day making the latter her own final screenwriting credit.

Rio Bravo is still considered one of the greatest Westerns ever made and is considered one of the greats in American cinema. Hawks would essentially repurpose his own film in two other variations to be seen in El Dorado (1966) and Rio Lobo (1970), his final film, both solid remakes of the essential Rio Bravo, but bravo here to Hawks' original classic.

Rio Bravo.
Director: Howard Hawks.
Writer: Jules Furthman/ Leigh Brackett.

Grade: A

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