Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Retro Review of the Week: Rio Bravo

The cast isn't too shabby.

After suffering from a slight 'Western' hangover from my Clint Eastwood bonanza a couple of months ago, I decided it was time to revisit the genre with the rip-roaring Rio Bravo. From the description it seemed to encapsulate all the vital components from classic Westerns: shoot-outs, bandits, horse riding, bar fights, sing-a-longs, a disgruntled hero, a recovering alcoholic, and a one-toothed comic relief character. Not to mention, it stars John Wayne AND Dean Martin (didn't even realise Deano acted if I'm being truly honest). So I was pretty much expecting my socks to be blown clear off.

The plot of Rio Bravo is not too dissimilar from EVERY other Western out there - A local Sheriff and his trusty deputies fend off a group of bandits who are trying to free one of their gang from the local jail. It's kinda like 3.10 to Yuma except the story doesn't go anywhere and it's TWICE as long.

Angie Dickinson: the new love of my life.

Now, I'm probably giving off negative vibes about this film, and whilst I think it hasn't exactly aged well, you have to appreciate its old fashioned sensibilities and marvelous storytelling. This film really couldn't be more earnest if it tried - from it's (hokey) romance, to it's (comically reserved) gunfighting, to it's (criminally crowbarred) sing-a-long; everything screams '1950s Western'. And because it was made towards the end of the decade, it does feel more like a celebration of everything that made the genre great, rather than trying to be its own film. Which is completely forgivable considering the veteran talent involved.

So forget the frankly overrated True Grit. Sit back on a lazy Sunday afternoon with a whiskey in hand, and enjoy this under-appreciated beauty.

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