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RIO BRAVO

Director: HOWARD HAWKS

141 minutes| U.S.A.| 1959| Colour| 35mm


Director Howard Hawks didn’t like High Noon, thinking it ‘phony’, and was unconvinced by a hero who ‘runs around like a wet chicken’. Worse still, ‘his Quaker wife saves his guts’. ‘That’s ridiculous,’ he surmised, ‘the man wasn’t a professional.’ John Wayne, himself still outraged by High Noon, teamed up with Hawks to make Rio Bravo as a politically conservative riposte. What they produced is sublime. Determined to hand local murderer Joe Burdette over to the U.S. Marshall, who won’t arrive for a week, Sheriff John T. Chance (Wayne) must hole up in the jail as Burdette’s gang surrounds the town. Impossibly outnumbered, Chance fulfills his duty with aplomb. Co-written by the legendary Leigh Brackett, the film is replete with her trademark snappy dialogue. Alongside Ford, Hawks is the master of the Western genre, and this film in particular was a huge influence on the critics of Cahiers du cinema, who went on to form the French New Wave. A true masterpiece.

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