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Rio Bravo is a 1959 Western film, directed by Howard Hawks. The script was written by Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, based on a short story by B.H. McCampbell.
It stars John Wayne, Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson, with Angie Dickinson, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, Estelita Rodriguez, and Walter Brennan. The film was shot at Old Tucson Studios, just outside Tucson, Arizona.
Rio Bravo is generally regarded as one of Hawks' best, and is notable for its scarcity of close-up shots. Actually, two appear in "Rio Bravo." In the opening scene where Joe shoots an unarmed man: Joe's revolver is shown in close-up, and later when Dude pours the whiskey back into a bottle. It features a long opening scene with absolutely no dialogue. The film received favorable reviews, and was financially successful, earning over US$5.5 million.
The musical score was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin. His score contains the haunting tune "El Degüello," which is played several times to build tension. A character (Colorado, played by Nelson) identifies the tune as "The Cutthroat Song". He relates the song's historical playing on the orders of Antonio López de Santa Anna to the Texans holed up in the Alamo to signify that no quarter would be given. The tune was used in the following year, over the opening credits of Wayne's film, The Alamo. Composer Ennio Morricone recalled director Sergio Leone requesting him to write "Dimitri Tiomkin music" for A Fistful of Dollars. The trumpet theme is similar to Tiomkin's "Deguella" while the Italian title of Rio Bravo was Un Dollaro D'onore.
Because the film starred a crooner, Martin, and a teen idol, Nelson, Hawks included three songs in the soundtrack. Before the big showdown, in the jail house, Martin sings "My Rifle, My Pony, and Me" (which contained new lyrics to a Tiomkin tune that appeared in Red River) accompanied by Nelson, after which Nelson sings a brief version of "Get Along Home, Cindy," accompanied by Martin and Brennan. Over the closing credits, Martin, backed by the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, sings a specially composed song, "Rio Bravo." Nelson later paid homage to both the film and his character, Colorado, by including the song "Restless Kid" on his 1959 LP, Ricky Sings Again.
A brief clip from Rio Bravo was among the archive footage later incorporated into the opening sequence of Wayne's last film, The Shootist, to illustrate the backstory of Wayne's character.
In the town of Rio Bravo, Dude ("Borachón"; played by Dean Martin), the town drunk, enters a saloon wanting a drink. Joe Burdette (Claude Akins), seeing Dude eying his glass, throws a silver dollar into a spittoon to mock him. Just as Dude goes for the spittoon, Presidio County, Texas, Sheriff John T. Chance (Wayne) kicks the spittoon away, looking at Dude with pity and disgust. As Chance turns to face Joe Burdette, Dude grabs a small piece of firewood and clubs Chance on the head, knocking him unconscious. Dude then starts toward Burdette, but two of his hired cow punchers grab Dude. Burdette starts to beat Dude with the two men holding him. A bystander grabs Burdette's arm so he can't swing on Dude again. Burdette draws his gun and shoots the bystander in the stomach. The close-up of Joe's revolver discharging is the first close-up in the film. Burdette then leaves the saloon and heads for another one thinking that he can do no wrong.
In the second saloon, after Burdette has another drink, Sheriff Chance enters with his Winchester aimed at Burdette, to arrest him for the murder of the bystander. One of Burdette's men then draws his Colt revolver on Chance and creates a stalemate. Dude enters behind two of Burdette's men and then takes the revolver of the man standing in front of him and shoots the gun out of the hand of the Burdette man. Chance then whips Burdette across the face with the rifle, knocking him unconscious. Chance and Dude drag Burdette out of the saloon, headed for the jail. Joe Burdette is the brother of a powerful rancher, Nathan Burdette (John Russell). The rancher's men then quarantine the town in preparation to breaking Burdette out of jail. The only help Chance has are his deputies Dude and Stumpy (Walter Brennan), an old cripple. Pat Wheeler (Ward Bond), a wagoneer, enters town with a wagon load of supplies from Fort Worth. Tensions are further strained by the presence of a young gunslinger hired by Wheeler to guard his wagons, Colorado Ryan (Ricky Nelson), and the arrival of a mysterious woman, Feathers (Dickinson), who becomes romantically involved with Chance.
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