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Rio Bravo (1959)

This western stars John Wayne, Dean Martin, Walter Brennan, Ricky Nelson, and Angie Dickinson. It is my all-time favorite John Wayne western. Rio Bravo is a straightforward story about a sheriff (Wayne) and his deputy (Martin) who have arrested Joe Burdette for murder. Joe is a nasty piece of goods but his brother is a wealthy rancher who will resort to any means to free his brother and to having the lawmen killed, as they are the only witnesses who would testify against Joe.

There is plenty of action and some wonderful songs sung by Martin and Nelson. Brennan provides a lot of comedy and is ably supported in this by Martin, Dickinson, and Wayne. Angie Dickinson flirts shamelessly with Wayne and they have several wonderful scenes together. Joe Burdette is well played by character actor Claude Akins, who specialized in playing brutal and sadistic types in the 1950s and 60s.

I had been meaning to write a review of this film for some time but I was inspired to do so after viewing The Artist (2011). So what does this silent academy award winner have to do with Rio Bravo? I had seen a special on the making of Rio Bravo and it was pointed out that there is no spoken dialogue in the first five minutes of the film. I had seen the film many times before and had never noticed that. I watched the film again and sure enough, none of the main actors in the opening scenes have any spoken lines. Martin, Akins, and Wayne are communicating with gestures, body language, and facial expressions only, and yet you know what they are saying and what they are thinking. Even if you don't like westerns, you must watch the first five minutes of this film to appreciate the pure acting that is going on.

This is a wonderful film from beginning to end.

For more about the film, check out articles from Roger Ebert, The Guardian (UK), and Turner Classic Movies.
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