Rio Bravo (1959)
After the box-office failure of Land of the Pharaohs (1955), director Howard Hawks took some time off to travel the world before returning to one of the genres he had long mastered, the Western. Where some of his earlier Westerns had been filled with action, however, Rio Bravo is more about character. The tale of a sheriff (John Wayne) holding out against a villainous family out to free the man he’s arrested gave Hawks and his writers, Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, a chance to dissect the archetypes who had populated most of his best films: the hero (Wayne) whose perfection is a form of isolation, the fallen man (Dean Martin) in need of redemption, the young hotshot (Ricky Nelson) out to prove himself, the veteran (Walter Brennan) who refuses to give in to age and disability, and the tough-talking beauty (Angie Dickinson) who turns out to be the hero’s equal. After a virtuoso silent sequence setting up the plot and key relationships, Hawks settles into a long, talky middle act as everybody waits for the villains to strike. The climactic shootout doesn’t disappoint, but the big surprise is how well Hawks and his cast keep things moving until that scene. The film provided a career boost for Dickinson and Nelson, though the biggest beneficiary was probably Martin, in the role that proved he could be a movie star and strong dramatic actor in his own right after years as straight man to Jerry Lewis.
d. Howard Hawks, 141 minutes, DCP
World premiere restoration courtesy of Warner Bros. Classics
Restored by Warner Bros. in collaboration with the Film Foundation
Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson, members of The Film Foundation Board, will be in attendance to talk about the mission of the The Film Foundation.
OFFICIAL OPENING NIGHT FILM