Rio Bravo 1959

From a very low key little known CHF film to a big budget Hollywood Western


With John Wayne, Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson.

When we first saw this as young lads what an impression it made on us.   All action adventure in colour. What more could we have wanted- John Wayne and Dean Martin – and just for good measure the girl was Angie Dickinson looking  really lovely. Also cast was pop singer Ricky Nelson who even had time to sing – as did Dean of course.

The scene in the saloon when Dean Martin is ridiculed when he comes in chasing a gunman was memorable.  When he shoots the killer down from the attic  he is exonerated and so turns the tables on the taunting mob. Big John has by then arrived and helps him put the crowd in their place. Thrilling stuff.

Also we were able to see the old west as we thought it would have been – albeit a romanticised Hollywood version but to me that was all the better.

John Wayne excelled in this sort of role and he was great although he didn’t come anywhere near to the towering performance he gave as Ethan Edwards driven on for years in the hunt for his niece who had  been  kidnapped  by  Indians  in  that  fabulous  film ‘The Searchers’ which must come in to my own ‘top ten of all time’ films. Who could ever forget that final scene when he finds the girl (Natalie Wood).   A very moving and memorable scene indeed.

Dean Martin in the early fifties broke up from the successful film partnership with Jerry Lewis. At the time it was thought that Dean would be no good on his own. How wrong we all were !

Here he is with Walter Brennan in another scene.

Ricky Nelson in contrast was not a film actor of any note. He was a recording singing star with Hits like Its Late and Never Be Anyone Else But You under his belt and it was maybe thought that he would help appeal to a younger set of fans. Maybe that was the case.

Angie Dickinson went on  TV fame with Police Woman in the 70s although even by this time she had already been in westerns such as ‘Run of the Arrow’ and   ‘Colt 45’ and in her long career she was seldom out of work and in both films and TV over decades.

Rio Bravo was a good film and a good western – not a great one – but as young lads viewing  this film in 1959 – who cares !!!


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