Rio Bravo

Introduced by David Thomson

Suppose, for the sake of argument, a sheriff is holed up in his own jailhouse with a surly prisoner, a cantankerous old man, a drunk, a kid named “Colorado,” and a pair of legs looking for black tights? Howard Hawks had done serious Westerns (Red River is as businesslike as 10,000 cattle), but here he sees the light and realizes that the Western is a gateway to paradise. Who cares if the circuit judge never gets to town? Who cares when there are cigarettes to be rolled, songs to be sung, and dialogue routines to be played out. This is not so much a story as a tongue-in-cheek documentary about old friends and a new girl telling a pretty silly story. But how come the silliness falls away and you feel you're in heaven?

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