Every now and then I get an overwhelming urge to watch a particular movie. Sometimes it’s a musical like Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Oklahoma, Wizard of Oz, or My Fair Lady. Other times it’s a classic like Gone With the Wind, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, Casablanca, or Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
Other times, the only thing that I want from life is an evening with an Abbot and Costello or the Three Stooges.
In all honesty, however, the type of movie I crave time with the most often is a good old-fashioned Western – specifically a John Wayne Western. And if we’re going to get even more specific.. it’s usually Rio Bravo, El Dorado, or Rio Grande that I need in my life.
While I love all John Wayne Westerns, there is something a little extra special about Rio Bravo for me. John Wayne, Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson, Walter Brennan… I mean, it just doesn’t get any better. Factor in one of the greatest directors of all time (Howard Hawks) and you don’t just have excellence, you have magic.
I do want to say a little bit more about Angie Dickinson and her wonderful portrayal of Feathers in Rio Bravo. The young actress was placed in a very colorful cast of actors – John Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond, Claude Akins, Ricky Nelson… and she more than held her own, she stole more than her fair share of scenes!
Feathers is one of my all-time favorite movie characters and the wonderful Angie Dickinson is 100 percent responsible for it.
Angie Dickinson as Feathers
How Hollywood kept from putting Angie Dickinson in more starring roles is beyond me. She’s the perfect combination of talent and beauty, with a great deal of charisma and onscreen magic thrown in for good measure… make that great measure.
Rio Bravo Trivia
- The sets were built to 7/8th scale which allows the stars to appear larger than life.
- Claude Akins recalled that during filming all the actors found themselves starting to talk like the Duke. John Wayne wasn’t amused.
- Ricky Nelson turned 18 years old just days into shooting the movie.
- Rio Bravo is included on Roger Ebert’s “Great Movies” list.
- Director Howard Hawks wanted an actor in the role of Colorado who would draw teenagers. Allegedly, his first choice for the role was Elvis Presley. While Elvis was interested in the role (some people even say he was pretty excited about it), his manager (Colonel Tom Parker) not only wanted too much money but also top billing. Can you imagine – billing over The Duke?! Not happening.
- Although Rio Bravo was actually a 1959 release, the opening credits say 1958.
- Walter Brennan once said that, after Rio Bravo, when people would meet him for the first time, they’d expect him to limp like Stumpy. He said he just chalked it up to good acting – after all he had to remember which leg to limp on in each scene!
- For most of the film Chance (John Wayne) has the front of his cowboy hat turned up to make him look friendlier and more approachable. However at the point in the movie where Chance has to stand up to the villain, the front of the hat is turned down, making him appear more menacing and tough.
For the first four minutes of the film, (including credits), there is no dialogue.
- Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.”
- Angie Dickinson was cast in the role of Feathers after Howard Hawks saw her on an episode of Perry Mason.
- Rio Bravo was HUGE in Italy. It actually led the way for the legendary (and fun) Spaghetti Westerns era.
- Members of the Western Writers of America chose “My Rifle, My Pony, and Me” as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time. (Video Below)
Rio Bravo singing scene with Dean Martin & Ricky Nelson: