Angie Dickinson, Rio Bravo
I’ve already gone on (and on and on!) about how much I love Rio Bravo (1959), Feathers, and Angie Dickinson on the blog (as well as Twitter and everywhere else I frequent), so I’ll just keep it short and sweet and share these amazing photos with you.
Angie Dickinson is, understandably, known by most as Pepper in classic TV’s wonderful and ground-breaking series Police Woman. She has, however, an excellent filmography to her credit as well, including the iconic and much-loved Rio Bravo. Her character “Feathers” is one of the best female characters in any western and one of the reasons this particular one is such a favorite of so many (including me).
Howard Hawks and Angie Dickinson
I’m surprised I haven’t printed out the picture above, framed it, and hung it on a wall. I mean, it’s…
- one of my absolute favorite directors
- one of my absolute favorite actresses
- from the set of one of my absolute favorite movies, Rio Bravo
Well, that does it. I absolutely have to print it out today!
Rio Bravo, starring John Wayne, Angie Dickinson, Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, Walter Brennan, and Ward Bond is one of the most entertaining westerns ever made. I watch it at least twice a year and have for as long as I can remember. I just love it… make that, I absolutely love it.
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:
Rio Bravo Lobby Card
I guess the fact that I am infatuated with Westerns shouldn’t surprise me – my dad was one of the three biggest Westerns fans in the entire world. Literally, the first movies I remember watching involve cowboys, dirt roads, shootouts, ladies in long skirts, and lots of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne. Even some of my earliest television memories are of Gunsmoke.
Now married to another Western fan, my love for the genre continues. I was once asked who I preferred in Westerns, John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. I told them that was like asking me to choose between coffee and sweet tea – the answer is whichever one’s in front of me at the moment.
Two of my favorite all-time Westerns are Rio Bravo (1959) and El Dorado (1966). Even today, they’re just good, clean, outrageous fun to watch. I actually feel sorry for anyone who can’t sit back and enjoy a good old movie and simply take it for what it is. F-U-N. Picking my favorite between the two would, again, be like choosing between coffee or raspberry tea. I’ll take whichever one is in the room at the time.
John Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, Angie Dickinson (Feathers), Ricky Nelson, Ward Bond – with a cast like this, how could it not be a classic?
In a pretty limited role – Carlos Robante, as Pedro, is also the very definition of scene-stealer.
Rio Bravo Movie Poster
Plot: In a small town in Texas, John Wayne is Sheriff John T. Chance. Along with his “drunk” deputy/friend, Dude (portrayed brilliantly by Dean Martin), a crankly old man deputy with a limp “Stumpy” (Walter Brennan at his best), and a singing young sure-shot named Colorado (a VERY young Ricky Nelson), he has to keep an eye on a murderer whose very wealthy and powerful brother is trying to break out of jail. As if Sheriff Chance doesn’t have his hands full with these characters, a beautiful distraction named Feathers (beautifully played by Angie Dickinson) comes to town on the stagecoach. She’s mysterious, chatty, and filled with equal amounts of energy and trouble.
Let the games begin!
I could watch this movie once a week and never complain – even though I’m pretty sure I could quote every line that comes out of “Stumpy” and “Feathers.” How are you going to miss with names like those? The wonderful Walter Brennan (Stumpy) and too gorgeous to even be believed or forgiven Angie Dickinson (Feathers) are at their best – and that’s saying something.
If you’ve never watched Rio Bravo or El Dorado, I’d whole-heartedly recommend buying the DVDs. You’ll fall in love with both movies. If you HAVE seen them, watch them again.
Somehow they just get better and better with each viewing.
Angie Dickinson and Dean Martin, Behind the Scenes of Rio Bravo
You can also find (and should find!) El Dorado on Amazon!