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Well, it looks like right now, I'm in a minority of one.

I did some research into the 'Best Westerns of All-Time," and "Rio Bravo" is on many, if not most, lists.

I love John Wayne as an actor in Westerns, and have enjoyed several films by Howard Hawks, notably "His Girl Friday" and "Bringing Up Baby" - two screwball comedies that are archetypes for "rapid-fire dialogue" - a technique that was employed around 1940.

After one viewing, this is my least favorite of the five John Wayne films I've written about here on donrockwell.com, but I just can't reconcile my views of this film with seemingly every other critic ... except for one.

Before the rise of the celebrity American film critic, there was Leslie Halliwell - a British critic known for his impossibly huge book of film capsules. Member Number One and I jokingly used to call him "The Prick," because we could never remember his name, and he was incredibly hard on films - particularly ones which rehashed old material. Halliwell was my reference-standard critic in the days before the internet, and for older films, he's still an exceptionally important voice for me.

Halliwell is the only major critic I can find who jibes with my first viewing of "Rio Bravo," saying it's a "cheerfully overlong and slow-moving Western," but was "very watchable for those with time to spare." That's about how I see it.

Nevertheless, I've been fooled by great works of art before after only one viewing, so I went so far as to purchase "Rio Bravo" by Robin Wood, and am going to read it before watching the film a second time. On a superficial level, it seemed to me like Hawks was in over his head with the Western genre (I know he directed "Red River" in 1948). 

I'm hoping for more out of this film, so I'm going to give it a second pass after reading Wood's book about it. Neither "His Girl Friday" nor "Bringing Up Baby" had much going for them other than star power, Howard Hawks, and the rapid-fire dialogue fad (which I could never really get into), and to be honest, I have yet to see anything by Hawks that I've loved.

Here's hoping that's going to change after my second viewing.

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1 hour ago, DIShGo said:

I liked this film a lot. It isn't a Western in the traditional sense. The characters are cowboys, but it is more of a comedy/character study about friendship and loyalty. 

Your expectations going into it were quite low!

I watched it a second time, too, with an open mind and less of an "action-based" perspective, and now I realize that Rio Bravo is a study in relationships and character development, disguised as a Western. It's also Howard Hawks' "Sweet Home Alabama" as an answer to Stanley Kramer's "Alabama" - I haven't yet watched "High Noon," but that's now on the short list. The people who annoyed me during the first viewing (Pedro Gonzales Gonzales and Walter Brennan - both of whom have a *ton* of noisy dialog with twangy accents) came across to me this time as more amusing - although not *just* amusing: They both ended up playing important dramatic roles.

Still haven't read my "Rio Bravo" book (scroll up two posts), but now I'm pretty sure I'll read *and* enjoy it. This movie was deceptively sophisticated, and quite frankly, it went over my head the first time I watched it - I don't know if I was tired, or just pain-induced cranky, but I certainly liked the film last night. I could watch this movie a third time at some point in the future.

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