Friday, November 19, 2010

The Beauty that is Rio Bravo

The basic plot line of Rio Bravo is similar to High Noon. A sheriff is faced with a difficult task opposed by powerful, bad men. He has to stand his ground and do what is right. The difference is that in this town, there are lots of people willing to help him do the right thing. The west of Wayne and Hawk’s vision is full of people with a strong code of honor and a willingness to fight for what is right. Similar to Cooper’s Kane in High Noon, Wayne’s Chance is faced with bad odds. The difference being that instead of begging cowards for help, Wayne turns unqualified help away.

The film is famous for these comparisons and the fact that they are intentionally a part of the story. It should be known, however, for the story of the friendship between Chance and “The Dude,” played by Dean Martin. The Dude is a former deputy-turned-drunk, and in this story we get to witness his redemption. The movie opens with a brilliant bit of pure cinema. For several minutes, we are introduced to the main characters and we witness the event that triggers the whole story—all without any dialogue. The dude is taunted by a powerful man in town and hits Chance over the head when he intervenes. In the scuffle that follows, the man kills someone, and Chance is forced to arrest him. He is only able to do so, when the Dude plays the role of deputy again. From that point on, the Dude is a real deputy again and fights to give up his addiction and become a man again.

Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, and Walter Brennan all turn in well-played, interesting roles to round out this well-crafted western.

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