Have you ever wanted to watch a movie that is purely comforting like a warm, soft blanket? You might not expect it, but this western showdown is just the thing. I’ve been revisiting some old classic westerns, and I found that Rio Bravo is still as good, nay, better than I remember.
If you’ve seen a John Wayne movie before, you probably know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you might be wondering how that gruff old man who is always confronting people in your grandpa’s movies could ever be thought of as comforting. But it seems we are in the middle of an era of anti-heroes, so it’s nice to go back to an older time when you could trust the lead character to be uncompromising in his values and all but fearless in the face of danger.
In this wild west saga, John Wayne plays a sheriff who has arrested the brother of a very influential cattle baron. Although pressured by the brother and his hired guns, the sheriff will not give up the murderer until a US Marshall comes to the town to take the prisoner into custody. Meanwhile, his deputy (played by Dean Martin) struggles with alcoholism.
Things get complicated when a mysterious lady and a young but prudent gunslinger arrive in town. The lady’s motives are unclear, but she is either trying to seriously annoy John Wayne or to marry him, while the gunslinger just tries to be super cool and stay out of trouble, but soon he too is drawn into the main conflict.
Aside from the shooting and chases and gun duels, much of this movie involves people just hanging out. This is where the tensions and friendships between the characters keep the viewer fascinated even when guns are not blazing. They even enjoy a musical interlude, and with talent like Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson (the Justin Bieber of the ’50s, only better at singing), who could blame them?
As Jeffrey M. Anderson says in his Combustible Celluloid review,
“The movie has a sort of glee that goes with it. It’s more than exciting, and more than just interesting or funny. It’s a pure joy to watch.”
I couldn’t agree more.