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DVD Review: "Rio Bravo"
May 16, 2007
by: Jared Counts
(Warner Brothers Home Entertainment. 1959/2007. Color. 2 Discs. 141 Minutes. Directed by Howard Hawks.) John Wayne, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan. Music by Dimitri Tiomkin.
The Duke is turning 100 this year, so Warner Brothers is commemorating the occasion by releasing a newly remastered version of Rio Bravo (complete with a showing at this year's Cannes Film Festival). Wayne plays Sheriff John T. Chase, a man trying to protect a town from a gang of thugs bent on freeing one of their members from jail. With the help of his ragtag group of deputies (Martin is a recovering drunk, Nelson a baby-faced gunslinger, and Brennan a cantankerous old cripple), he saves the town and manages to win the heart of a very lovely Angie Dickinson. While there's nothing new or original about this movie, it is a shining example of the archetypal western: good and evil in a land where the only ambiguous thing is the law. This movie ambles through its 2 1/2 hours, but it really fleshes out its characters (especially Martin's Dude) and builds its setting, complete with a wink, quip or a song. This new edition is lavishly produced, with a newly-remastered print, plenty of special features and even a sleeve of glossy behind-the-scenes photos. Those special features include a commentary track by director John Carpenter (yes, the horror movie guy) and historian/critic Richard Schickel, behind-the-scenes featurettes on the making of the movie and the setting and a lavish career profile of Howard Hawks (narrated by Sydney Pollack). If you're looking for a good example of what a western can be, you can find little better than this.