Rio Bravo is about a man named Joe Burdett who shoots a man who is stopping him from beating up Dean Martin. Dean Martin and John Wayne then have Joe Burdett arrested for the murder because they are the sheriff and one of the deputies for the town. They then have to hold onto Joe Burdett until the marshall shows up to deliver justice. In the mean time a friend of John Wayne’s played by Ward Bond offers to help and is shot, his gun slinger named Colorado joins forces with John Wayne and John Wayne has a romantic relationship with a woman.
The acting in this movie is great. John Wayne turns in a decent performance. He usually does a good job, even if his acting role in this movie was not one of his best ones. There’s not much to work with because it is more of an action movie than it is one of his psychological, dramatic movies like Red River or the Shootist. Dean Martin is also in this John Wayne movie. He does not quite have the chemistry that he had with John Wayne in Sons of Katie Elder, but he still does a good job as a drunk deputy who tries to sober up so he can help John Wayne keep Joe Burdett in jail. There is a humorous deputy who stays in the jail named Stumpy. He does not do much, but he helps in a couple of situations and is the comic relief for the movie. Finally, Ricky Martin rounds out the group as the teenage heart throb who sings a couple of songs in this movie with Dean Martin, one of the few John Wayne movies to have a good number of songs sung in it. Ward Bond does a great, short appearance as a friend of John Wayne’s who is quickly killed off.
The action in this movie is it’s main thing. There are some subplots thrown in such as a romance plot with a woman and Dean Martin trying to sober up, but the main, ongoing plot in this movie is that they have to keep Joe Burdett in jail, despite Nathan Burdett and his men a couple of times trying to get Joe out of jail. When Ward Bond is shot John Wayne and Dean Martin go after the man who did it. The criminals then try a couple of tricks like getting the better of Dean Martin and John Wayne by surprise and capturing John Wayne and Dean Martin to get Joe Burdett out of jail. However, with the help of Stumpy and Ricky Martin they turn the tables on the criminals both times.
Stumpy is a humorous character. He really is the main comic relief in this movie. He has some funny lines and does screwy things like burning his fingers on accident with matches and accidentally taking pot shots at Dean Martin because Dean Martin got himself all slicked up after apparently looking like something the cat dragged in.
The suspense in this movie is when Dean Martin has been captured. You don’t know whether John Wayne will be able to save Dean Martin without losing their criminal in the process. Also, having the town all bottled up with no way of escape gives some good helpless, claustrophobia to the movie, which makes it more engaging.
The four main heroes in this movie are the sheriff and his three deputies. John Wayne is the strong sheriff who has his act together and tries to get Stumpy and Dean Martin on the right track occasionally. Dean Martin plays a drunk who tries to sober up so he can help John Wayne. He is about ready to give up when a saloon play a song from the Alamo, which inspires him to keep going. Stumpy is the slow moving but reliable deputy who is holed up in the jail with a shot gun and is in charge of the prisoner. Ricky Martin is the new deputy. He is joining up with the others to avenge his boss, Ward Bond, who was shot.
There is one woman in this movie who is of noteworthy importance. She is the romantic character for John Wayne. Dean Martin already had issues with a troublesome woman, so John Wayne is reluctant to go after this one. The woman seems to really care about John Wayne after he gets rid of a wanted poster for her. She seems very attracted to him by even offering for him to sleep in the same room with her. She creates a distraction, which helps to get John Wayne out of a fix when some criminals get the drop on him.
One of the main villains in this movie spends the majority of the movie in the prison. However, he murders somebody and has a good fist fight with Dean Martin. He mouths off a lot and is an unsavory character who John Wayne doesn’t think has any friends at all unless his brother buys one for him with a nice, fresh, fifty dollar gold piece, the price Nathan thinks somebody’s life is worth. Nathan Burdett is the rich brother in this movie who tries to get his brother free and causes most of the trouble for our heroes by having his men bottle up the town, kill off anybody who offers to help such as Ward Bond and try to break Joe free from prison.
There are a couple of good songs in this movie sung by Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson that would’ve been good in most movies, but don’t seem to fit too well in a John Wayne action movie. I never thought of watching John Wayne movies for the songs, but the singing is good and guitar playing is simple but nice, which shows you Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson were at the top of the music scene during the 1950s. One of the songs is a classic western song called My Rifle, Pony and Me.
The entire movie takes place in one town and just a couple of buildings, which makes the settings for this movie relatively inexpensive. They could’ve had this entire movie on a studio lot, and nobody would’ve been the wiser, but it works.
This movie is not one of the stand out best movies by John Wayne, it’s kind of your typical western action movie with John Wayne, but it is one of my favorite ones because I am more interested at this point of my life in movies that entertain than movies that have deep meaning. When I get older I’m sure my tastes will change to deeper movies, but right now all I want is a good western movie with John Wayne shooting bullets.