Film Review – RIO BRAVO (1959)

Related imageRio Bravo (1959; USA; Technicolor; 141m) *****  d. Howard Hawks; w. Jules Furthman, Leigh Brackett; ph. Russell Harlan; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: John Wayne, Walter Brennan, Ward Bond, Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson, John Russell, Ricky Nelson, Claude Akins, Bob Steele, Myron Healey, Estelita Rodriguez, Malcolm Atterbury, Yakima Canutt, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, Bing Russell. A small-town sheriff in the American West enlists the help of a cripple, a drunk, and a young gunfighter in his efforts to hold in jail the brother of the local bad guy. Superb entertainment with characters you can route for and a near perfect cast. The interplay and contrast between the characters is what makes this so enjoyable. Wayne is at his stoic best as the sheriff; Martin delivers his finest performance as the recovering drunk; Brennan cackles and grumbles his way through his most memorable role as Stumpy and Dickinson oozes appeal as the girl with a past who falls for Wayne. Even Nelson gets through a slightly stiff portrayal of a young gunslinger and has time to share a tune with Martin. Escapist cinema at its very finest. Based on a short story by B.H. McCampbell (Hawks’ daughter). In 2014, the film was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. More or less remade as EL DORADO (1966) and elements were also adopted in RIO LOBO (1970). Inspiration for John Carpenter’s ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976). [PG]

Film Review – RED RIVER (1948)

Red River (1948 film) movie scenesRed River (1948; USA; B&W; 133m) ****½  d. Howard Hawks, Arthur Rosson; w. Borden Chase, Charles Schnee; ph. Russell Harlan; m. Dimitri Tiomkin.  Cast: John Wayne, Montgomery Clift, Walter Brennan, Joanne Dru, Coleen Gray, John Ireland, Noah Beery Jr., Harry Carey, Harry Carey Jr., Paul Fix, Chief Yowlachie, Hank Worden, Mickey Kuhn, Hal Taliaferro, Shelley Winters. A rancher is driving his cattle to Red River when his adopted son turns against him. Wayne is excellent in an unsympathetic role as the trail boss. Clift and Brennan are just as good in support. The photography captures the toughness of a long cattle drive and Tiomkin contributes a memorable score. Hawks handles the story perfectly through to its finale, which strikes the only false note in an otherwise top-class production. Filmed in 1946 but held for release for two years, in part due to legal problems with Howard Hughes who claimed it was similar to his THE OUTLAW. Borden adapted his own story. Remade for TV in 1988. [PG]

Film Review – TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944)

Image result for to have and have not 1944To Have and Have Not (1944; USA; B&W; 100m) ****½  d. Howard Hawks; w. Jules Furthman, William Faulkner; ph. Sid Hickox; m. Franz Waxman.  Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall, Dolores Moran, Hoagy Carmichael, Sheldon Leonard, Walter Szurovy, Marcel Dalio, Walter Sande, Dan Seymour, Aldo Nadi. During World War II, an American expatriate helps transport a French Resistance leader and his beautiful wife to Martinique while romancing a sexy lounge singer. Hawks worked with themes that sustained him throughout his career and many of his signature moments are on display here. The chemistry between Bogart and Bacall nearly melts the screen and their dialogue is wonderful. The plot mirrors some of the themes seen in Bogart’s earlier classic CASABLANCA and this comes very close to repeating the earlier film’s success. Filled with excellent character performances from a strong supporting cast and finding room for a handful of musical numbers, this is entertainment of the highest order. Based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway. Legendarily, Hawks bragged to Hemingway that he could take the worst of his novels, and make a good film of it. He did this by disregarding the novel’s contents. [PG]