Wednesday, May 06, 2009

460 - Play It Again #9 - Rio Bravo

I owe credit to Adam Ross. Were it not for his wicked movie blog DVD Panache, I might not have been inspired to run this feature. He has his own seriously awesome feature called Friday Screen Test, which spotlights movie bloggers such as yours truly. Features aside, his blog is a fantastic read, fusing a touch of quirkiness with an abundance of insight. Right now, his blog is on hiatus as Adam has joined the Army to become a broadcast journalist, which is more than a little cool.

Adam's selection is "Rio Bravo," Howard Hawks' 1959 Western starring John Wayne as a sheriff standing off against a gang attempting to bust one of their own out of jail.



There are probably a dozen movies I could have chosen for this question, but "Rio Bravo" is one that consistently finds its way into my DVD player, and my thoughts. With "Rio Bravo," I don't so much watch it any more, as kick my boots up and share a beer and a song with Sheriff John T. Chance, Dude, Colorado, Stumpy and the rest of the gang.



For all my favorite movies, it's always been the most difficult to put into words just why I am always pulled toward "Rio Bravo." It's the only movie I've watched (though "The 'burbs" comes close) where at a few points you stop feeling like a viewer and gradually feel like you're a part of the landscape in the town of Rio Bravo. It doesn't happen right away (though the silent opening is one of the film's best moments), but by the time we've gotten familiar with the layout of Rio Bravo's jail, I feel like tipping my hat to Sheriff Chance.



It's hard to put my finger on exactly how "Rio Bravo" evokes these feelings, but I think it's due to the natural way all the characters interact with each other and the environment. Chance has a set way he always enters the jail -- putting his rifle away and sitting at the desk the exact way each time (and it always appears like he's not even thinking about these actions, it's just reflex by now). Chance and Dude know every nook and cranny of Rio Bravo -- exactly where they should hide and how to creep up on people. And when this little town comes under siege, the keepers of peace don't panic or make rash decisions, there has to be time to think everything through and consider what little leverage they have.



Elements like the above give "Rio Bravo" the kind of authenticity you rarely find in movies, where for moments you forget you're watching actors reciting scripts and moving in front of cameras. Sometimes the screen seems to disappear, and you find yourself reaching for you gun, only to find the remote control. That's why I keep watching "Rio Bravo." - Adam Ross

3 comments:

Ryan said...

I'll say this, as a kid growing up in Iowa I've seen alot of John Wayne movies. Rio Bravo is one of the best. The top five is rounded out by The Shootist, The Sons of Katie Elder, Stagecoach, and Cowboys.

James said...

No "Red River" or "The Searchers?" I'd take a swing at a top five but I've probably only seen about ten of his movies, which for most actors would be enough, but considering that he starred in more than anyone else, seems like a pathetic number to judge by.

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