The "Casablanca" of Westerns-"Rio Bravo"


Directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, "Rio Bravo" illustrates why Wayne became an American icon. The intense plot is galvanized by the excellent cast and sharp dialog. Wayne's character, Chance, arrests Joe Burdette, the spoiled brother of a rich cattle baron, Nathan. Nathan threatens trouble. A test of wills begins while they wait for the U.S. Marshall. Chance's allies are questionable. Dude, played by Dean Martin, is a drunk and Stumpy, played by Walter Brennan, has a game leg.

Arriving on the stage coach, Angie Dickenson refuses to leave though Chance has a police bulletin describing her. Ricky Nelson comes through with a cattle drive and joins in as well. The tension spikes when one of Chance's friends is shot and killed.

"Rio Bravo" takes you on a wild ride. It has suspense, humor, and romance in spades. Hawks garnered great performances from the entire cast. The finely honed plot breaks the common Western formula.  Instead of a posse chasing bad guys the good guys are backed into a corner. What does follow formula is our heroes using their wit, strength, and cunning. If the current greed and corruption has sullied the idea of the American way, "Rio Bravo" reminds us when righteous men and justice prevailed.

--Cindy F., Headquarters

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