The Detail and Elegance of Hawks’ Rio Bravo
Rio Bravo is a 1959 American Western film directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan, and Ward Bond. The film was Hawks’ response to High Moon (1957) by Fred Zinnemann. He created his own version of the story, presenting the most detailed and elegant expression of his typical concerns.
While High Moon is set in New Mexico during the Civil War, Rio Bravo is set in Texas after the war. In both films, a sheriff is faced with the task of dealing with a weak and unprofessional deputy. However, while High Moon has a wide range of locations and a large cast of characters, Rio Bravo takes place in a limited setting with only a few main characters. This allows Hawks to create a small community where relationships can be explored in depth.
The focus on relationships is one of the most interesting aspects of Rio Bravo. Hawks presents a number of different types of relationships, including family relationships, friendships, and romantic relationships. These relationships are all interwoven and contribute to the overall theme of the film.
2. Hawks’ Response to High Moon
Hawks was not impressed with High Moon. He felt that it was too long and that it lacked focus. He also thought that the sheriff was too weak and unprofessional. In response, Hawks decided to create his own version of the story.
Hawks wanted to make a western that was more focused on the relationship between the sheriff and his deputy. He also wanted to create a more realistic portrayal of life in the American West. To do this, he set the film in a limited number of locations and used only a few main characters.
3. The Detail and Elegance of Hawks’ Rio Bravo
Rio Bravo is widely considered to be one of Hawks’ best films. It is notable for its attention to detail and its elegantly simple storytelling. The film is set in the town of Rio Bravo, Texas in 1885. The town is small and isolated, which allows Hawks to focus on the relationships between the characters.
The sheriff, John T.”Chance” Harrigan (John Wayne), is a former Confederate soldier who is now tasked with keeping the peace in Rio Bravo. His deputy, Dude (Dean Martin), is a drunken womanizer who constantly gets into trouble. Chance’s old friend Stumpy (Walter Brennan) helps out around the jailhouse even though he is confined to a wheelchair.
Angie Dickinson plays Feathers Mc Graw, a dance hall girl who falls for Dude but isn’t sure if she can trust him. Rick Nelson plays Colorado Ryan, a young man who has been accused of murder and is being held in jail pending trial.
The plot of Rio Bravo revolves around Chance’s efforts to keep Colorado from being lynched by a mob led by Joe Burdette (Claude Akins). Burdette is the brother of Ranse (John Russell), the man Colorado is accused of killing. Ranse was also married to Feathers, which complicates matters further.
4. Typical Concerns of Hawks’ Films
Hawks was interested in exploring themes of honor and friendship in his films. He often used the western genre to examine these themes. Rio Bravo is no exception. The film is primarily concerned with the relationships between the characters.
The theme of honor is explored through Chance’s efforts to keep Colorado from being lynched. Chance is aware that Colorado is innocent and he is determined to see justice done. However, Burdette is a powerful and dangerous man. Chance knows that he is risking his life by standing up to Burdette, but he does it anyway.
The theme of friendship is explored through the relationship between Chance and Dude. Dude is a drunk and a womanizer, but Chance still cares for him. He tries to help Dude get his life together and stay out of trouble. In the end, Dude proves his loyalty to Chance by helping him fight off Burdette’s mob.
5. The Focus on Relationships in Rio Bravo
Rio Bravo is primarily concerned with the relationships between the characters. These relationships are interwoven and contribute to the overall theme of the film.
The family relationship between Chance and Stumpy is one of the most important relationships in the film. Stumpy is confined to a wheelchair, but he still helps out around the jailhouse. He represents the idea that family members should help each other even when they are struggling.
The friendship between Chance and Dude is also important. Dude is a drunk and a womanizer, but Chance still cares for him. He tries to help Dude get his life together and stay out of trouble. In the end, Dude proves his loyalty to Chance by helping him fight off Burdette’s mob.
The romantic relationship between Dude and Feathers is one of the most complex relationships in the film. Feathers falls for Dude but isn’t sure if she can trust him. She eventually decides to trust him and they begin a relationship, but their future is uncertain.
Rio Bravo is a western with deep relationship insight. It is Hawks’ response to High Moon by Fred Zinnemann. Hawks creates his own version of the story, presenting the most detailed and elegant expression of his typical concerns. The film is set in a limited number of locations and uses only a few main characters. This allows Hawks to create a small community where relationships can be explored in depth.