RIO BRAVO (March 18, 1959)
The creation of "Rio Bravo" involved three men and a women. They were Howard Hawks, John Wayne, Jules Furthman and Leigh Douglas Brackett. The last two being screenplay writers Hawks had worked with and who knew his style.
The following is a very detailed look at "Rio Bravo", because without knowing it completely. My reader can not understand why I consider neither picture that followed and especially "Rio Lobo" as actually being a true "Remake By Definition" of the first.
Why was "Rio Bravo" made?
John Wayne's politics was the main reason he agreed to work with Howard Hawks on "Rio Bravo". Although filmed in 1958 the politics went back to 1952 and a classic Gary Cooper Western "High Noon".
"High Noon" is viewed by many as an allegory against the major studio's practice of "Black Listing" many in the Hollywood Film Industry and "McCarthyism" in general. The Academy Award nominated screenplay was written by Carl Foreman. Foreman appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities and admitted to having been a member of the Communist Party, as many American's during the Second World War had patriotically joined, because Russia was our ally. That admission did not get the writer into trouble. It was when he refused to give the committee the names of other Communist Party members Foreman knew that the "Hammer and Sickle" fell on him. For not "Naming Names" Carl Foreman was "Black Listed" and he left the United States for the U.K..
Once in England Foreman would write the screenplays for 1957's "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and 1961's "The Guns of Navarone".. When these films opened in the United States his real name was not shown in the credits. Eventually as years passed they were restored.
In his famous "Playboy Magazine" interview for the May 1971 issue. John Wayne stated he considered "High Noon":
the most un-American thing I've ever seen in my whole lifeHoward Hawks shared Wayne's views about "High Noon". According to a Turner Classic Movies article, by Jeff Stafford, Hawks stated:
I didn't think a good sheriff was going to go running around town like a chicken with his head cut off asking for help, and finally his Quaker wife had to save him.The two men came together in 1958 to remake "High Noon" as a revisionist Western called "Rio Bravo".
It should be mentioned that "High Noon" received seven Academy Award nominations including Best Picture and Director Fred Zinneman. The picture won four of them including Best Actor for Gary Cooper.
In fairness it should be noted that Fred Zinneman never considered "High Noon" an allegorical motion picture about either Black Listing, or Senator Joseph McCarthy. He believed the story of "Will Kane", Gary Cooper, was about conscience and independent, uncompromising fearlessness.
It should also be pointed out that "High Noon" was a favorite movie of President's Eisenhower, Reagan and Clinton. All three screened the picture in the White House multiple times with Clinton setting the record at 17. President Reagan cited the feature as his favorite, because of "Will Kane's" strong commitment to duty and law. Definitely not how Hawks and Wayne saw the Oscar Winner.
The Screenplay Writers
Jules Furthman received a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination for 1935's "Mutiny on the Bounty". He started working with Howard Hawks with the 1936 screen adaptation of Edna Ferber's novel "Come and Get It!". In 1939 he wrote "Only Angels Have Wings", but it was in 1944 that his style of writing for Hawks really came together.
Although the original 1937 novel "To Have and Have Not" was written by Ernest Hemingway. The screenplay for his novel just kept the title and some character names. A normal practice in the motion picture industry still used. Author William Faulkner would receive co-screenplay writing credit with Jules Furthman for that 1944 screenplay. It was, however, Furthman who actually rewrote Hemingway's work into one of the sexist screenplays Hawks had every directed. Even though there was no visible sex on the screen.
The sex was in those one liners given to new 19 year old actress Lauren Bacall to deliver to 45 year old actor Humphrey Bogart/
Probably the most famous between Bacall's "Slim" and Bogart's "Steve" was:
You know how to whistle , don't you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.In "Rio Bravo" Bacall's "Slim" became Angie Dickinson's "Feathers" and Bogart's "Steve" became John Wayne's "John T. Chance".
A comparison of dialogue in both "To Have and Have Not" and "Rio Bravo"/ Illustrates the sexiness of Furthman's writings:
The original between "Slim" and "Steve" after their first kiss:
It's even better when you help."Feathers" to "John T.":
It's better when two people do it.Or
The original between "Slim" and "Steve":
I'm hard to get Steve----all you have to do is ask me.
"Feathers" and "John T,":
I'm hard to get---you're going to have to say you want me.
In 1946 Jules Furthman and William Faulkner were joined by writer Leigh Brackett for the screenplay of Howard Hawks' "The Big Sleep". The picture once again starred Bogart and Bacall and was based on the Raymond Chandler novel about detective "Phillip Marlowe". As the story goes Hawks had read Leigh's first now, a Detective Thriller, entitled "No Good from a Corpse". and told his secretary to call in:
This Guy BrackettLeigh Douglas Brackett wasn't was guy, but a writer who in the 1950's earned the title "The Queen of Space Opera" and as of this writing has yet to give it up. She was also the first women writer to be on the short list for the Hugo Award in science fiction.
Prior to "The Big Sleep" Leigh Brackett had written her first screenplay "The Vampire's Ghost". This
is a very excellent and very different low budget 1945 vampire tale. Rather than a "Dracula" like vampire popular at the time. You might call this a Vampire's "Casablanca".
Because of how great the screenplay for"The Big Sleep" is considered. For his 1973 version of Chandler's "The Long Goodbye" director Robert Altman hired Brackett as sole writer.
George Lucas hired Leigh Brackett to write the screenplay for "The Empire Strikes Back". He wanted her to follow his outline exactly, but Brackett reworked it into what became the basic story seen on the screen. She presented her screenplay to Lucas shortly before her death from cancer. There was a partial rewrite by Lawrence Kasdan and both writers are given credit for the final screenplay.
My reader already knows why John Wayne was portraying "John T. Chance". The way Wayne played the role reminds me a little of his "Joe January" from Henry Hathaway's 1957 "Legend of the Lost", mixed with "Tom Wilder" from William Wellman's 1955 "Blood Alley". Neither, one of his many Western roles.
The look of "John T. Chance" is typical John Wayne. The first still is Wayne in 1959's "Rio Bravo", The second Wayne in 1953's "Hondo". The third is Wayne in 1956's "The Searchers". All three are with Ward Bond and the characters looks are very interchangeable.
Until director Edward Dmytrk's 1958 adaptation of Irwin Shaw's best selling World War 2 novel "The Young Lions". Mention the name Dean Martin and you immediately had two images. A popular singer and part of a team with comedian Jerry Lewis. Which had started in radio in 1949 and went through a series of movies ending in 1956 with the teams volatile breakup .
So the idea of Dean Martin as a serious actor just didn't seem to fit. Especially as his first solo film, a comedy, 1957's "Ten Thousand Bedrooms" bombed at the box office. While Jerry just kept on going without Dean starting also in 1957' with "The Delicate Delinquent"..
In "The Young Lions" Martin was billed third behind Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift. The story followed three soldiers, two American, Clift and Martin, and one German, Brando, as their individual stories collide in one decisive battle. Martin was excellent and he followed that film opposite Frank Sinatra in the drama "Some Came Running". Shirley MacLaine was the third star. Martin was now a recognized dramatic actor adding a new dimension to his career.
His next role was also Dean Martin's first serious Western playing "Dude" in "Rio Bravo". Martin had portrayed "Slim Mosley, Sr" in the Martin and Lewis comedy Western 1956's "Pardners".
When we first see "Dude" he is the town drunk, but still a Deputy to "John T. Chance". The moment the opening credits ends Howard Hawks cuts to Martin entering a saloon, having the shakes, and wanting a drink. What follows is a five minute sequence with just incidental music and sound until the first words of dialogue are spoken,
The sequence as filmed by Hawks and written by Furthman and Brackett is as follows:.
After Dean Martin makes his entrance Howard Hawks cuts to "Joe Burdette", Claude Akins, at the saloon's bar pouring himself a drink. "Joe" notices "Dude" and holds up his drink as if to offer it to him. "Dude" makes a motion with his head that yes he would like a drink. After which "Joe" pulls a silver dollar out of his pocket, shows it to Martin, and then tosses it into a spittoon. As "Dude" reaches for the dollar Wayne enters the frame and kicks the spittoon over. "Dude" grabs an ax handle and hits "Chance" in the face knocking him out. Two "friends" of "Joe" grab and hold "Dude" while the other starts to hit him in a stomach. Another man attempts to stop the beating and "Joe" pulls his gun out of his hostler and kills the unarmed man.
"Joe Burdette" leaves this saloon and goes out in the street heading for the bar owned by his brother "Nathan". "Joe" is again standing at the bar as "Chance" enters through the front door. He is bleeding from the ax attack by "Dude", but by motioning appears to be arresting "Joe". The dialogue begins when another man who works for "Nathan" pulls a gun on Wayne, but Martin appears and shoots it out of the man's hand and backs "Chance" up in the arrest.
The audience now starts to know the true relationship between "Dude: and "Chance" and that the town drunk used to be very good with a gun. The reason why "Dude" became an alcoholic will be revealed as caused by a "Women" who came to "Rio Bravo" on a stagecoach and "Dude" thought loved him.
Howard Hawks casting of "Teen Idol" Ricky Nelson as "Colorado Ryan" surprised everyone. Other than playing an 11 year old boy in 1953's "The Story of Three Loves". Ricky Nelson was known for two things. Being part of the Nelson Family on television's long running "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet", started in 1952 and would last 14 seasons into 1966, with his parents and brother David. Along with Ricky being a "Teenage Idol", for his singing, among screaming teenage and pre-teen girls.
Ricky Nelson's six years, at the time, on the family's television show and his live appearances gave him the confidence to play opposite Wayne, Martin and Brennan. Although his dialogue was kept to a minimum and in a way he was still playing himself, but with the guidance of Hawks and Wayne.
"Colorado" is first seen riding guard for a supply train owned by Ward Bond's "Pat Wheeler". As the supply train enters "Rio Bravo" they are stopped by "Dude". Who is questioning everyone entering the town, because of having "Joe Burdette" in a jail cell.
"Pat Wheeler" is upset because this is the second time he's been stopped. The first was by "Nathan Burdette's" men at the outskirts of "Rio Bravo". "Wheeler" does ask "Dude" isn't he a fellow the Mexicans call "Borrachon (bo ra tjon), mispronouncing the word, which means "Big Drunk", and "Dude" confirms this.
As "Pat" and his group move past "Dude" they are again stopped for a third time by the Sheriff in front of the jailhouse. "Wheeler" is now very angry at being stopped once more and asks his old friend "Chance" to explain things. It is during this conversation that we learn who "Colorado Ryan" is and that he is the son of another old friend of both "Chance" and "Pat". Also that the young man is even faster than his father. This concerns the Sheriff, but "Colorado" promises that he will not start anything unless he first tells him.
Angie Dickinson had been getting small roles on television since 1954. She also appeared in three 1955 western movies, one without on screen credit, and in 1956 was given her first leading role. The picture was also a Western "Gun the Man Down" starring James Arness and unofficially produced by John Wayne.
Prior to 1955 Dickinson had become friends with Frank Sinatra and would be the only recognized female member of what became known as "The Rat Pack". She would also appear as Frank's wife in the original 1960 version of "Ocean's 11" that featured the Rat Pack which included Dean Martin.
Howard Hawks cast Dickinson as "Feathers" no other name ever given."Feathers" is stuck in town for the night, because the stagecoach broke a wheel. She runs afoul of Wayne's "Chance". After he observes her winning at poker while others are loosing and figures she's cheating. He's found a "Wanted" poster that tells of a women, who wears "Feathers". that works with a male gambler.
"Feathers" leaves the table and goes upstairs to her room. "Chance" follows and confronts her. When she starts teasing him about where she may have the missing cards. "Feathers" realizes "Chance" is embarrassed. Just then "Colorado" shows up and says that it's someone else cheating and he wanted to inform the Sheriff, as promised, before he starts trouble.
What starts from this point is a series of misunderstandings as "Feathers" and "Chance" fall in love with each other. While the two deputies "Dude" and "Stumpy" are enjoying this, because it reminds both of "Dude" from before.
Speaking of Wayne's other deputy "Stumpy", The old friend and deputy of "John T. Chance" was portrayed by the great Walter Brennan.
Three time Oscar winner Walter Brennan is still familiar today. Over the years he was "Pastor Rosier Pile" in Howard Hawks' "Sergeant York" starring Gary Cooper, "Eddie" in Hawks' "To Have and Have Not", "Old Man Clanton" fighting off Henry Fonda's "Wyatt Earp" in John Ford's "My Darling Clementine" and "Doc Velle" in John Sturges' "Bad Day at Black Rock" starring Spencer Tracy and Robert Ryan". Now he was the tired, old timer "Stumpy" in "Rio Bravo".
Any good Western needs a great villain and John Russell was "Nathan Burdette".Although he played a "Hopper Boy" in 1939's "Mr Smith Goes to Washington". John Russell's motion picture career didn't start until after World War 2 in 1945. In an non-screen credited role as a "Guard" in Otto Preminger's "A Royal Scandal". Throughout his career Russell was mostly associated with Western movies and the 1958 to 1962 television series "Lawman" portraying "Marshall Dan Troop". In 1985 John Russell would portray "Marshall Stockburn" in Clint Eastwood's "Pale Rider". Anyone familiar with "Lawman" recognized "Stockburn" as a parody of "Dan Troop" at his most evil and maybe satanic.
The first still is John Russell in "Rio Bravo". The second is on television is "Marshall Dan Troop" and the third as "Stockburn" in "Pale Rider".
"Nathan Burdette" owns the town except "John T. Chance" and a few others. He actually hates "Joe" for all the trouble he causes the wealthy landowner, but "Joe" is his brother. "Nathan" will bottle up the town and force "Chance" to take refuge in the Jail House with "Dude", "Stumpy" and eventually "Colorado".
As I said every Western needs a great villain and John Russell played "Nathan Burdette" as a calm, calculating business man, However, under this exterior you can see a very dangerous and deadly adversary and that's what makes his small, but critical role stand out under Howard Hawks' direction. This is a man John Wayne's "John T. Chance" cannot under estimate in anyway.
The Musical Score
Howard Hawks and John Wayne may have disliked Carl Foreman's screenplay for "High Noon", but apparently they loved the sound track. As they hired Dimitri Tiomkin the Oscar winner for that picture's score to score "Rio Bravo".
One of the most haunting musical moments in a Western occurs after "Nathan Burdette" has a group of Mexican musicians play "El Deguello" written by Tiomikin. The "El Deguello" is actually a Mexican bugle call that was heard at the siege of the Alamo and the composer turned it into a short composition for the sequence. The following year the tune was, of course, incorporated in Tiomikin;s score for John Wayne's epic "The Alamo".
Tiomikin's theme, in a fashion, made it across the Atlantic Ocean and into the Mediterranean Sea to Italy in 1964. According to composer Ennio Morrricone director Sergio Leone wanted him to compose music for "A Fistful of Dollars" that was like Tiomkin's "El Deguello".
When he had Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson together. Howard Hawks knew his audience was expecting a song. Dimitri Tiomkin had composed the score for the Howard Hawks Western "Red River". So he took a song from it "My Rife, My Pony and Me" and expanded it to permit a duet between Martin and Nelson. Here are the lyrics:
The sun is sinking in the west
The cattle go down to the stream
The redwing settles in the nest
It's time for a cowboy to dream
Purple light in the canyons
That's where I long to be
With my three good companions
Just my rifle, pony and me
Gonna hang (gonna hang) my sombrero (my sombrero)
On the limb (on the limb) of a tree (of a tree)
Coming home (coming home) sweetheart darling (sweetheart darling)
Just my rifle, pony and me
Just my rifle, my pony and me
(Whippoorwill in the willow
Sings a sweet melody
Riding to Amarillo)
Just my rifle, pony and me
No more cows (no more cows) to be roping (to be roping)
No more strays will I see
Round the bend (round the bend) she'll be waiting (she'll be waiting)
For my rifle, pony and me
For my rifle, my pony and me
Also the audience hears a shorten version, of "Get Along Home Cindy" started by Ricky Nelson and accompanied by both Dean Martin and Walter Brennan. It comes right after the above song was completed.
Over the closing credits Dean Martin sings maybe a few seconds of a song called "Rio Bravo". It appears to be a reprise of an unused opening theme song that was suppose to be heard during the credits. I believe because of the impact he wanted to make with that five minute introduction sequence. Howard Hawks dropped the complete Dean Martin song and just showed "Pat Wheeler's" wagon train heading for the town of "Rio Bravo" and then cut to Dean Martin.
By describing the characters above I have given my reader a look at the plot of "Rio Bravo", but here is an overview of the entire story.
"Joe Burdette" is arrested and slowly "Nathan's" men start coming to town watching every move of the Sheriff and his deputies. There might have been a sequence of "Wheeler's" supply train being stopped by 'Nathan Burdette's" men which is referred too in the dialogue dropped by Hawks to tighten up the opening.
After "Pat Wheeler" and his supply train arrive the audience meets "Feathers" who will have to stay at "The Alamo Hotel". The hotel/saloon is owned by "Carlos Robante", played by the very recognizable Mexican-American character actor Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, and
his wife "Consuela", Estelita Rodriquez. A Cuban born actress who appeared in many Roy Rodgers "B" Westerns, The two play important roles in the story line and are not the usual stereo typical "Mexican's" seen in Westerns. Although at times the couple are comic relief. There is a very serious side to "Carlos" and "Consuela".
"Pat Wheeler" offers his assistance to fight "Nathan" and his men, but "Chance" turns him down as he isn't fast enough/ The offer of "Wheeler's" men is also turned down, because most are married with family. "Colorado's" name comes up and he's asked by "Pat" to help the Sheriff. The young gun hand bows out again as it's not his fight. Once more, the first time when he was introduced to the Sheriff, "Chance" thinks the kid's very smart and wishes he was on his side.
"Chance" is seen sitting at a table, by himself, playing with some cards that were used in the card game before. He notices that the "Aces" are missing. As he watches the game "Feathers" leaves it and heads up to her room. He gets up and follows her. As I mentioned "Ryan" breaks up the questioning and the three go down to the card game. Where "Colorado" reveals the real card cheat.
The audience will learn that there is a "Wanted Poster" out for a man and a 22 year old women, Dickinson was actually 27, who likes "Feathers". "Feathers" admits to the Sheriff that she is the women and that the man was her husband. He had been killed four months earlier in a card game. "Feathers" never knew her husband turned to cheating and tells the Sheriff she can't escape those handbills. "Chance" tells her he knows the man who put them out and will write a letter to have the wanted posters recalled. but she must still leave "Rio Bravo" in the morning. Of course that doesn't happen and the romance begins. "Feathers" asks the Sheriff what his name is and he replies "John T. Chance". From that point on she refers to him as "John T.".
"Pat Wheeler" is shot in the back by one of "Nathan Burdette's" hired killers. "Colorado" wants to join the Sheriff and "Dude" to get the murder. He's turned down by "Chance", because "Colorado" had the opportunity to help, but didn't want too.
This all leads to "Chance" and "Dude" going after the killer, a short shoot out in a barn, "Dude" shooting at the escaping man and a great confrontation sequence in "Nathan's" bar.
"Dude" believes he shot the man and saw him run into the saloon. He tells "Chance" that they've made him enter through the backdoor and he wants to go in the front and find the killer. The Sheriff agrees after "Dude" says the man can be identified by mud on his boots. "Chance" goes to the rear entrance and "Dude" enters through the front door and the sequence begins.
"Dude" tells "Nathan's men that he's looking for a man with mud on his boots. "Chance" has entered through the back door which he slams to get everyone's attention. One man tells "Dude" nobody has entered the bar and "Chance" replies they'll remember he said that. "Dude" tells everyone to line up at the bar and show him the bottoms of their boots. Not one has mud on them. "Dude" remembers he hasn't checked the barkeep's and after looking at his clean boots. It seems that "Dude" has made a mistake.
The bartender and "Burdette's" men start to taunt the deputy by offering him a drink. One played by Myron Healey, who became a major "B" Western and television actor, reprises the opening by offering "Dude" a silver dollar and tossing it into a spittoon.
"Dude" walks over to the bar and notices blood dripping into a glass of beer. He suddenly turns and shoots a man hiding above the room. The man falls and "Dude" points out he had mud on his boots and that he had shot him in the leg. "Chance" finds a fifty dollar Gold piece on the body. The price "Nathan Burdette" puts on a man's life. The sequence ends with "Chance" taking his rifle and hitting the man who said nobody entered in the face knocking him down. Then "Dude" makes Myron Healey's cowboy take the dollar out of the spittoon. A classic sequence.
What follows is "Chance" spending the night in his room at "The Alamo" after telling "Carlos" to wake him before sunrise. He awakes to find the sun up and it's seven o'clock. Stopping the hotel owner to ask why he didn't wake him. "John T." finds out that "Feathers"slept in a chair outside the room all night guarding it. Confronting the girl the audience starts to realize she may be in love with the Sheriff . As I already mentioned she doesn't get on the morning stage and this sets up another scene between the two that hints the feelings are mutual.
When "John T." heads for the jail he notices a lot of people have come into town. It appears they've all heard "Nathan Burdette" is on his way. At the jail "Colorado" brings in "Pat Wheeler's" things and mentions he took the $60 owed him. "Chance" asks what about the other men's pay and "Ryan" puts the $60 back with the other items. The Sheriff says he'll tell the hotel to give "Pat's" men's food on his tab until a judge can clear the money. "Colorado" thanks him and leaves.
"Natrhan Burdette" arrives and is stoped by "Dude". He's having everyone wearing guns to place them on a fence until they leave "Rio Bravo". An incident occurs where "Nathan" is surprised about how quick on the draw "Dude" is when sober. He also observes that all men should have a taste of power as it is obvious "Dude" is enjoying what he's doing.
"Nathan" after talking with "Chance" is permitted to see his brother. "Joe" asks "Nathan" to just break him out of the jail. "Nathan" tells his brother he'll have to stay put. As he sees that "Stumpy" sits guard with a shotgun and knows "Joe" is a dead man the moment trouble starts. "Nathan" then leaves for his saloon.
There he has the Mexican group start to play Tiomkin's composition "El Deguello" and leaves town. Which will lead to "Colorado" telling "Chance" and "Dude" that "Nathan" is talking to them about having "Joe" locked up by playing "The Cutthroat Song".
"Chance" gives "Dude" back his guns that were pawned a year before to pay for drinks. He also takes him to the hotel were "Feathers" shaves him and is given back his old clothes also kept by the Sheriff.
Next day "Dude" is back at the town's entrance when he is tricked and tied up by "Burdette's" men. They then move on the jail and "Chance". Seeing what's about to happen. "Colorado" tells "Feathers" to toss a flower pot through the window once he's outside and facing "Burdette's" gun hands. The flower pot is tossed as "Ryan" shoots to kill and is now dealt into the fight. When "Chance" tells the local funeral owner to charge the burial to him. He is told that all the dead men had three $50 dollar Gold pieces on them and that will cover the burials.
"Dude" is now convinced he's through and lost his nerve, but hearing the "El Deguello" once more. Makes him pour his drink back into the bottle without spilling a drop. He has no more shakes and he's ready to take on "Nathan" and his men.
"Chance" decides to hole up in the jailhouse until the Marshall arrives in three to four days. "Dude" and "John T." go over to the hotel to get supplies. As he hasn't had a bath for weeks and being teased about. "Dude' decides to take one. Meanwhile, some of "Nathan's" men arrive hoping to force "Chance" to take them to the jail and release "Joe". Their plans go astray when the one's entering the jail are ambushed by not only "Stumpy", but "Colorado" who they had no idea was there.
Back at the hotel the remaining members of "Nathan's" men take "Dude' and leave after hearing the shooting. This will lead to the climax at "Burdette's" warehouse with a trade of the deputy for "Joe". As the two walk towards each other "Dude" sees his chance and grabs "Joe". The two start to fight and "Chance" and "Colorado" open up on "Nathan's" warehouse.
Near the warehouse are "Pat Wheeler's" supply wagon's which were placed outside of town as they contained dynamite. "Stumpy" and "Chance" will use the dynamite to blow up the warehouse with "Nathan" and his men inside.
In the end "Natrhan", "Joe" and those of the gun hands not killed are in jail and "Feather's" tricks "John T." into admitting he loves her. When he says he would arrest her if she appeared in public in the outfit shown below. Fade out end of the revisionist "High Noon".
A Howard Hawks motion picture was known for two important points. One was a finely written screenplay with well defined characters. That's the reason I mentioned Myron Healey, called "A Barfly" above, to illustrate that point. The second important point was that even the smallest role is perfectly cast by Hawks. It should be noted that the following three actors had scenes in "Rio Bravo" that were deleted during editing, but also go directly to the cast.
Malcolm Atterbury was the unseen stage coach driver.
John Wayne's life long friend and son of his mentor Harry Carey, Jr. portrayed a character named "Harold".
Sheb Wooley, who was in "High Noon" and would be a regular on "Rawhide" was a cowboy.
Then of course there was the Dell Comic's movie tie in. This one for "Rio Bravo" cost 10 cents in 1959, but today you can find it on E-Bay for only $89.99.
Movie Critics. Biographers and Film Historians refer too "El Dorado" and "Rio Lobo" as "Remakes" by Howard Hawks of his motion picture "Rio Bravo". Fans of John Wayne also call the two follow up features "Remakes".
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary a "Remake" is defined as:
To make a new, or in a different formThere is no question "Rio Lobo" is in a different form than "Rio Bravo", but not necessarily as the definition meant and as for "El Dorado" was a remake even planned for the motion picture?
It should be noted that "Rio Bravo" was based upon a short story by B.H.McCampbell of that name. While"El Dorardo" was supposed to be based upon a novel "The Stars in Their Courses" by Harry Brown from 1960. While "Rio Lobo" was based upon an original story for Hawks by Burton Wohl.
EL DORADO (December 17, 1966 in Japan)
A comment about the above release date. "El Dorado" did not open in the United States until June 7, 1967. The reason for the delay was Paramount Pictures had another Western "Nevada Smith" based on a section of the extremely popular Harold Robbins novel "The Carpetbaggers" that needed release also. "The Carpetbaggers" in turn had been a major Worldwide best seller and a huge box office hit starring George Peppard as the obvious Howard Hughes character. "Nevada Smith" was starring Steve McQueen, and was directed by Henry Hathaway. Hathaway had either direct, or would direct John Wayne in "The Shepard of the Hills", "Legend of the Lost", "North to Alaska", "Circus World", "The Sons of Katie Elder" and "True Grit". The studio felt "Nevada Smith" would be competition for the Howard Hawks movie lowering their profits on both productions. So "El Dorado" premiered in Japan.
The Questionable Source for Leigh Brackett's Screenplay
Harry Peter McNab Brown, Jr. was a novelist, poet and screenplay writer. From his Army experiences Brown wrote the excellent 1944 World War 2 novel "A Walk in the Sun". Which became a movie the following year. His screenplays included 1949's "The Sands of Iwo Jima" starring John Wayne and 1956's "D-Day: the Sixth of June" starring Robert Taylor and Richard Todd. In 1951 Harry Brown, as he was known, won the Academy Award for Best Screenplay for the motion picture "A Place in the Sun" which starred Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.
1960 saw the publication of his Western novel "The Stars in Their Courses" not to be confused with the Issac Asimov collections of articles published under the same title in 1971. Howard Hawks purchased the film rights to Brown's novel and commissioned Leigh Brackett to write a screenplay. Her new title was "El Dorado". When Brown saw the finished motion picture he wanted his name removed from the film, because the picture had little to do with his work.
The website "Good Reads" describes Harry Brown's book as:
The epic novel of the old west, a living legend of lust, doom, death, of tall strong men, golden women and towering passions!Definitely not the motion picture I saw when it came out. Harry Brown's name and novel remains in the on screen opening credits as the work the screenplay was based upon.
What is closer to Brackett's screenplay are the quotes from Edgar Allan Poe's 1849 poem "Eldorado" spoken by James Caan to John Wayne, or turned into the opening theme song under the credits.
Here's the entire poem:
Back to those opening credits. Behind them are several beautifully done Western paintings. They were painted by Olaf Wieghorst. Who portrayed the gunsmith "Swede Larson" in "El Dorado". Wieghorst was born in Denmark and came to the United States in 1918. He joined the U.S. Calvary and was part of the patrol that chased Pancho Villa back into Mexico. While in the Calvary he started to paint Western scenes. Below, James Caan, John Wayne and Olaf Wieghorst looking at the sawed off shot gun that becomes "Mississippi's" weapon.
The following comes from a website for "Art World Western Gallery".
Unlike other contemporary western artists, Mr. Wieghorst actually lived the scenes he renders with such insight. Cowboy, horse cavalryman, ranch hand and friend of the Indians, he roamed the West during its transition from open range to the modern world. He knows, first hand, the sights and people that are brought to life with such a graceful blend of impressionistic skill and authenticity.
Recognized as the "Dean of Western Painters", Wieghorst's work is often compared with that of Remington and Russel, and his paintings hang in the great public and private collections of western art.
The Characters of El Dorado
Viewers have always identified similar characters in both "Rio Bravo" and "El Dorado". This becomes one of the central comparisons that people use to state "El Dorado" as a remake of "Rio Bravo", but back to my definition. Was this the original intent?
However, lets look at the film's major characters.
The first character is not related to "Rio Bravo", but the entire story of "El Dorado" seems to revolve around him in some way. This is John Wayne's "Cole Thornton". "Thornton" is a typical old west gun for hire. Like many in the true West his future is eventually to be killed, or become a small town Sheriff like "John T. Chance". In the movie "Cole" meets two old friends who have become just that a Sheriff and his Deputy.
Within the dialogue between "Thornton" and another gun for hire "Nelse McLeod". We learn the two have a code they live by which includes "Professional Courtesy" and respect for each other. They are two of four widely known fast guns at the time of the story. One has just been killed prior to the start of the story and the other, "J.P. Harrah" is still alive and the Sheriff of the town of "El Dorado". All three know one of the other two might beat them in a face to face showdown.
Leigh Brackett smartly portrays "Cole Thornton" as an older, but wiser gun hand then either "McLeod", or "Harrah". She plays to Wayne's age of 59 by creating a character the actor fits in both looks, dialogue and experience. As she does with the two other actors portraying the living gun fighters. Robert Mitchum was 49 when he portrayed "J.P. Harrah" and Christopher George was 35 when he played "Nelse McLeod".
Robert Mitchum had just been seen in a terribly made version of author/historian A.B. Guthrie, Jr's epic 1950 Pulitzer Prize winning novel "The Way West". The novel was about a wagon train of settlers heading to Oregon. Even in the hands of director Andrew V. McLagen the novel, the second part of a series of six related books, had too many characters and situations and the screenplay kept them all in. Thereby, in only a two hour motion picture deluding each on screen. The film co-starred Kirk Douglas and Richard Widmark. "El Dorado" enabled the actor to redeem himself to his fans and gave him a character that required a large range of his acting skills including physical comedy.
"J.P. Harrad" as created by Leigh Brackett is a composite of two characters from "Rio Bravo". "Harrah" is part "John T." and part "Dude". When we first meet him he is the respected Sheriff of "El Dorado". However, about a quarter of the way through the picture he becomes the town drunk and a laughing stock of the hired gun men of Rancher "Bart Jason".
What has happened to the Sheriff is exactly what occurred with "Dude" in "Rio Bravo". A girl came into town on a stagecoach and "Harrah" fell for her. She leaves and he starts to drink. Setting up the return of "Cole Thornton" to help him.
"Colorado Ryan" the fast draw guard for "Pat Wheeler's" supply train, becomes a very interesting character in Leigh Brackett's "El Dorado". Unlike "Colorado" reacting to the murder of "Pat Wheeler" by first wanting to seek revenge, stopped by the Sheriff and then when "Chance" is out numbered by "Nathan Burdette's" hired killers. Giving the young man no option, but to be drawn into the Sheriff's situation.
Brackett's introduces the audience to "Alan Bourdillion Traherne aka: Mississippi". After a long period of time he has finely identified and chased down the last of the three men who killed his mentor. An old honest, even at cards, Riverboat Gambler named "Johnny Diamond". "Mississippi" challenges the last man and as "Nelse McLeod" observes to the other man in question. He wants to see how "Mississippi" plans to kill him as he hasn't a gun. The third killer is dead, before his gun leaves it's holster, by a Bowie style knife that "Mississippi" quickly pulls and throws from his shirt collar. "Mississippi" doesn't know how to use a gun, or rifle and depended upon his knife throwing skills. Another interesting addition to this character is the hat that belonged to "Johnny Diamond" worn by "Mississippi". The sight of this out of place hat in the "Old West" sets up a few comments starting at the card table from the third killer.
Caan went from Broadway to appearing in small insignificant television roles starting in 1961. Along with non screen credited parts in motion pictures. Then in 1965 Howard Hawks cast James Caan as the lead in his racing movie "Red Line 7000". That picture was followed by "El Dorado".
"Bull Harris" takes the place of "Stumpy" as the Deputy Sheriff. The character is a lot more colorful and that owes itself to both Leigh Brackett and actor Arthur Hunnicutt. From Brackett we know by his bugle playing entrance, he always has his bugle since the war, that "Bull" was of course in the army. As the story takes place in Texas there is no need to mentioned which army "Bull" was in. "Bull" is also a teller of tall tales and as portrayed by Arthur Hunnicutt a true frontiersman.
Arthur Hunnicutt was known for playing the "B" Cowboy sidekick, or the old timer frontiersman. In six 1940's Charles Starrett starring "B" Westerns he was billed as Arthur "Arkansas" Hunnicutt. The "Arkansas" being his sidekick's name and the state he was actually born in. Hunnicutt was one of the Union Soldiers in John Huston's 1951 "The Red Badge of Courage". He was "Zeb Calloway" in Howard Hawks' 1952 production of "The Big Sky" based upon A.B. Guthrie, Jr's novel that proceeded "The Way West". In 1955 Arthur Hunnicutt portrayed "Davy Crockett" in Republic Pictures "The Last Command" about Jim Bowie at the Alamo.
The idea for an Alamo feature had been made in the 1940's to studio head Herbert J. Yates by John Wayne, When Wayne finally got fed up with Yates holding the Alamo film over the actor's head to keep him at Republic. He left to start his own production company. Herbert J. Yates then made "The Last Command". Five years later Wayne made his epic "The Alamo" which is the more known version of the story.
In "Rio Bravo" the girl was "Feathers" and in "El Dorado" her name was "Maudie". According to the dialogue "Maudie" had been married to a gambler who was killed. Sound familiar? However, we also learn that "Cole Thornton" knew her as a little girl and that there was something between the two after her husband's death. Unlike, "Feathers", "Maudie" isn't really a major character, but there is a scene reminiscent of "Feathers" and "John T." with a slight remix.
"Cole" is washing up after arriving in "El Dorado" at the start of the picture. "J.P." has entered and the two men were talking. In walks "Maudie" in her first appearance and the viewer finds out that there was also something between her and "Harrah". When both men get a surprised shocked look on their faces. Leigh Brackett has her respond:
I'm girl enough for both of you.We're back to those one liners Jules Furthman used to write and there will be others with different character combinations.
The following scene is of "Maudie", played by Charlene Holt, and John Wayne after she starts to laugh at both "Cole" and "J.P.". This is just before she delivers the above one liner.
Charlene Holt like James Caan was bouncing around television shows. When Howard Hawks signed her for a role in "Red Line 7000", Below is a scene with both actors in that Hawks picture with nice product placement.
After this picture Holt dropped out of movies for a while. She married a millionaire Contractor from Los Angles. After her divorce Charlene Holt went back to some acting roles. In 1974 she played "Hippolyte" the Queen of the Amazons and mother to Cathy Lee Crosby's "Diana Prince". In the terrible television movie of "Wonder Women".
There really isn't much difference between "Rio Bravo's" "Nathan Burdette" and "El Dorado's" "Bart Jason". As they are both large ranch owners wanting more land, attempting to control the town and both have a saloon located in it. The only differences is that there is no version of "Joe Burdette" and at a point about 3/4th's of the way through "El Dorado". It will be "Jason" that is put in jail and that meant a different motivation for the story. Instead of a brother getting into trouble. Leigh Brackett has "Bart Jason" wanting the land of the "MacDonald" family for it't water.
Playing "Bart Jason" was Ed Asner. This was four years before he would become "Lou Grant" on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show". Asner had played heavies in features such as 1965's "The Satan Bug" and appeared on television shows ranging from several episodes of "The Untouchables", "Ben Casey", "The Outer Limits" to "The Farmers Daughter" and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea".
Now we get to the rest of the new characters created for "El Dorado" by Leigh Brackett. The love interest for "Mississippi" is the only daughter of "Kevin MacDonald", "Josephine 'Joey" MacDonald" portrayed by Michele Carey.
"Joey" is an impulsive Tom Boy who will cause "Cole Thornton" major trouble by shooting him in the back. Before she knew all the facts in the death of her brother "Luke". Playing the small role of "Luke MacDonald" was Johnny Crawford, ex-original Mousekeeter and "Mark McCain" on the television series "The Rifleman".
"Joey's" bullet that "Dr. Miller", John Wayne's good friend Paul Fix, can't remove. Will cause "Cole" off and on again right side paralysis. An interesting problem Brackett created for Wayne's character."Joey" will also start to fall for "Mississippi" and him likewise.
Below Johnny Crawford's "Luke MacDonald" after being shot by "Cole Thornton".
Paul Fix as "Dr Miller" standing between Wayne and Mitchum.
Actually the most interesting character to this blogger in the picture is Christopher George as "Nelse McLeod". For one thing he has a scar running across his left eye. For another George knew how to underplay the role and make him so much more menacing.
Until "El Dorado" Christopher George had only three television appearances to his credit. At the time the film was being released he had started to appear on the World War 2 television series "The Rat Patrol".
"Nelse McLeod" as I said was one of three still living fast guns. "McLeod" would love to find out if he, or "Cole Thornton" is the faster. However, as I said, "Nelse" believes in a code of honor between Professionals like "Thornton" and himself. So unless they find themselves against each other. "McLeod" would never think of a straight challenge.
In their conversations between the two men after "Mississippi" killed the last man who murdered "Johnny Diamond". "Nelse McLeod" learns that "J.P. Harrah" is the other fast draw, but he informs "Cole" that "Harrah" has now become a drunk. "Nelse" wants "Thornton" to replace the man just killed to help "Bart Jason". "Cole" refuses and with the knowledge just gained. Does not tell the other gun fighter, but he will now go to "El Dorado" to help his friend.
The major characters are now in place.
The Finished Screenplay By Leigh Brackett
Televised over three days April 16-18, 1976 in Minneapolis, Minnesota for Dave Trusedale and Paul McGuire III was an interview with Leigh Douglas Brackett about her science fiction and screenplay writing. When the screenplay for "El Dorado" was discussed her answer revealed interesting points confirming that the movie was originally intended to be a "Remake":
the best script I had ever done in my life. It wasn't tragic, but it was one of those things where Wayne died at the end." However she says the closer they got to production "the more we got into doing Rio Bravo over again the sicker I got, because I hate doing things over again. And I kept saying to Howard I did that, and he'd say it was okay, we could do it over again.What did Leigh Brackett's original screenplay look like? We will apparently newer know. Did it more closely follow Harry Brown's novel? We will never know. John Wayne dying at the end? Yes he died in both "The Fighting Seabees" and "The Sands of Iwo Jima", but that was as a World War 2 hero. He also died in Cecil B. DeMille's "Reap the Wild Wind", but still the idea of America's Cowboy dying was unthinkable for the 1960's. Then we had Howard Hawks deciding in production he wanted to "remake" "Rio Bravo" over again. Interesting "Remixing" of ideas.
On page 168 of Frank Broughton's "Time Out Interviews" containing interviews with different actors between 1968 and 1998. There is one with Robert Mitchum over being asked by Howard Hawks to appear in "El Dorado". This small reply also implies that the screenplay was in flux. According to Mitchum:
When Howard called me, I said, 'What's the story?' and he said, 'No story, just characters' and that's the way it was. Did one scene, put it away, did another, put it away.Let's look at what finally was seen on the big screen.
The motion picture opens with "Cole Thornton" riding into the town of "El Dorado" and going into a local saloon/hotel to wash up. What follows is "J.P, Harrah" entering and we have the already described scene between the two and "Maudie". Within the conversation prior to "Maudie's" entrance we learn that "Cole" has been hired by "Bart Jason", but when he finds out that "J.P." is the target he says he'll tell the Rancher he's changed his mind. Also in this short conversation the audience learns of "Kevin MacDonald", R.G. Armstrong an excellent and recognizable character actor, and his family.
"Thornton" goes out to "Bart Jason's". Before he arrives word of him being hired is given to "McDonald" and he has his son "Luke" watch for anyone coming, if he sees someone. He is to fire one shot into the air and get on home. Thus his death is set up unknowingly by the father.
"Cole" arrives at "Jason's" ranch and is invited to stay. "Cole" give's "Bart" back what's left of the advance money, confirms he's "afraid" of "Harrah", backs his horse out and leaves. Below Ed Asner and Jim Davis as his foreman "Jim Purvis". Davis was another familiar character actor to the audience and had starred as "Railroad Detective Matt Clarke" on the television series "Tales of the Century" and as "Wes Cameron" on "Rescue 8" among other Western movies and television work.
What follows is "Cole Thornton" just riding back to "El Dorado". "Luke MacDonald" having fallen asleep, wakes up suddenly, sees "Thornton", by reflex fires his rifle at "Cole" and also by reflex "Cole" fires back at the boy. In the end the boy's shot in his stomach and remembering his father's words about stomach wounds takes his own life.
"Thornton" having talked to "Luke" knows who he is. He takes the boy back to his father and as she rides into the scene. "Joey MacDonald" only hears part of it and quickly rides out. "Kevin MacDonald" thanks "Cole" for bringing his son back and understands what happened.
As he is riding, again, back to "El Dorado". "Cole Thornton" is ambushed by "Joey" and ends up with the bullet in his back near his spine described above.
In the above scene 'Cole" has recovered for his wound and is aware that "Dr. Miller" couldn't remove the bullet. He will need a better doctor than the "old saw bones". "Thornton" says his good-byes and leaves "El Dorado". The screenplay moves forward one year.
We now see "Cole Thornton" arriving in a small town. Saying hello to two old gun hands now the Sheriff and his Deputy. The audience next sees "Cole" playing dominoes with two women in a Cantina.
Enter "Nelse McLeod" and his men, "Cole" looks up and returns to his game. A short time afterward "Mississippi" arrives. We have the knife challenge sequence and "McLeod" and "Thornton" introducing themselves to each other.
Below "Mississippi", "Cole" and "Nelse" after the killing of the last of "Johnny Diamond's" killers.
There are two of "McLeod's" men waiting outside to ambush "Mississippi". Who is getting upset with"Cole" telling him to wait instead of letting him leave the cantina. Through "Professional Courtesy" "Nelse McLeod" tells his men to come out in the open, drop their guns and "Mississippi" realizes "Cole Thornton" had saved his life.
The audience now sees "Cole" riding among some rocks and he knows somebody is following him. He pulls his gun out, but suddenly gets a spasm and falls off the horse. His right side is paralyzed for a few moments as "Mississippi" appears. From the expression on "Cole's" face when he heard that "J.P. Harrah" is now a drunk. The young knife thrower has figured out that the gun fighter is going to the aide of his friend, Mississippi" explains to "Thornton" that he wants to come along.
This will lead to discovering "Mississippi" can't hit anything with a gun and the purchase of the sawed off shot gun. As the two head of "El Dorado" James Caan recites the first quotes from the Edgar Allan Poe poem. When Caan got to the line:
Ride boldly rideListen closely to James Caan. He was having problems pronouncing it and the line sounded like:
Ride Bodie rideStill causing people to wonder: Who was Bodie?
Below "Mississippi" test fires the sawed off shot gun.
The two men arrive after midnight and "Cole" goes directly to "Maudie's" house.
While "Mississippi" waits outside "Cole" verifies what has happened to "J.P.". The two men go over to the jail where "Bull" is sitting outside with a rifle across his chest and "Harrah" is drunk sleeping it off in a cell. We also have another comment about the hat "Mississippi" wears.
We've reached slightly more than the half-way point of the motion picture and what relationships do we have with "Rio Bravo", if this is a true remake?
1, We have a small town Sheriff who instead of his Deputy has become the town drunk. The reason for this is the same as "Dude". A women he fell for that came in on a stage and then left him.
2. "Maudie" like "Feathers" was married to a gambler who was killed. Otherwise there is no further relationships between the two women.
3, We have "Mississippi" who like "Colorado Ryan" had a close friend murdered.
4. We have a wealthy rancher who hires killers to do his dirty work.
The question from "Cole": is how do they sober up "J.P."? The answer comes from "Mississippi" who remembers one hell of a mixture used by "Johnny Diamond". This will lead to a great comic bit from Robert Mitchum with Wayne, Caan and Hunnicutt playing straight men. As "J.P. Harrah first feels the concoction poured down his throat and then reacts to it.
As Howard Hawks told Mitchum:
No story, just charactersIn the morning the Sheriff is sleeping in a cell still recovering from "Johnny Diamond"s" cure all. Looking out the jailhouse window "Mississippi" notices "Nelse McLeod" and his group arriving and entering "Bart Jason's" saloon. Then matters get worse as the "MacDonald" family arrive for their Saturday shopping. Finally "J.P." is up and looking everywhere for a bottle, but "Cole" tells him they threw everything out. "Harrah" leaves to go over to "Jason's" saloon.
In the saloon the Sheriff asks for a bottle and hears "Bart Jason" pointing out "Sheriff J.P. Harrah" to "Nelse McLeod".
The Sheriff leaves and returns to the jailhouse and tells the other three men that everyone was laughing at him. That's when he's told they've been laughing for a long time and he's been to drunk to notice. That night there's gunshots and one of the "MacDonald" boys has been shot by "McLeod's" men.
"Cole", "Mississippi", "Bull" and "J.P.", after he stops dropping his gun belt and gets it on, run into street to the "MacDonald's".
It takes some arguing that "Harrah" can handle the situation now. The fact that "Cole Thornton" is backing him up convinces "Kevin MacDonald" to let the Sheriff go after the man who shot his son.
For approximately the final third of the film we have several obvious lifts from "Rio Bravo" blatantly added to the original screenplay per Hawks.
Instead of running into a barn a group of "McLeod's" men where observed going into a Church at the end of a street. A still not completely sober "Harrah" and "Bull" take one side of the street and "Cole" and "Mississippi" the other and head for the church.
There they will kill all, but one of the men. He gets away and starts to run when "Mississippi" opens up with his sawed off shot gun. He hits a sign which hits the man on the head and when the other three arrive. "Mississippi" says he must have hit the man as he was limping. Receiving the reply from "Cole" that he had already been limping. However, "Mississippi" tells them he saw the man run into "Bart Jason's" saloon and the revised version of "Rio Bravo" and "Dude" continues. As "J,P." tells the other three he plans to go in the front door. "Cole" and "Mississippi" will go in the back and "Bull" will back up "J.P.".
The Sheriff enters and "Jason" and his men start to offer him a drink not taking "J.P." serious. "Bull" walks in as back up. First the Sheriff says he's looking for a man with a limp and one of "McLeod's" men says nobody came in with a limp. Looking the room over the Sheriff makes a remark to the piano player that he's playing strangely off key and wouldn't he like to move away. Once the piano player is clear of the piano the Sheriff fires into it and the man they were looking for pushes it forward and dies on the floor. It is obvious that just like "Dude" in "Rio Bravo". "Mississippi" had wounded the man.
The Sheriff arrests "Bart Jason" and takes him to the jailhouse. We now have another variation of "Rio Bravo" and there will be one more.
As the Sheriff, "Cole" and "Bull" are walking "Jason" to the jail. "Mississippi" thinks he saw someone with a rifle watching them over near the barn. He tells "Bull" he's going to investigate and off he goes.
"Mississippi" enters the barn and sees the person with the rifle looking out of a window at the other end. He approaches and tackles them before they're aware. Of course it's obvious to the audience that this is "Joey MacDonald". "Mississippi": has her pinned down on the barns hay floor before he realizes she's a girl.
When he finds she's "Joey MacDonald" he apologizes. She realizes he was the guy with the weird hat helping the Sheriff. She corrects her name to "Josephine". The two go over to the jail house where she wants to do see "Bart Jason", but with her rifle in hand. This is where "Mississippi" discovers "Joey" shot "Cole". She leaves.
Later there is a minor run in with more of "McLeod's" men and the Sheriff receives a minor injury to his leg. This leads to another comic bit for Mitchum as the new younger doctor working with "Dr. Miller" has him hold a finger on the bleeding vein while he examines "Cole" for the bullet at his spine.
Later that night "Bull" deputizes "Thornton" and "Mississippi" to make them official.
The next day the Sheriff is finally convinced to take a bath and put on clean clothes. This leads to a comic bit, again, with Robert Mitchum sitting in a tub of water and everyone including "Maudie" and "Joey" bringing him bars of soap.
"J.P.". decides that the best place to stay until the Marshall arrives in three to four days is in the jail. So food is gotten. but a note is received from "Maudie" that "Nelse's" men are frightening her and could they help? This a trap and "Cole" and "Mississippi" walk right into it, but suddenly "Thornton" has one of his spasms and drops his gun and can't control his right hand. "Mississippi" and "Maudie" have been left loose and they return to the jail by the back alley.
Suddenly there are gun shots into the front door and "Nelse McLeod" yells from across the street that something happened, not his fault, to "Thornton" and he wants to trade him for "Jason". "Harrah" has the door opened and lying on the porch is "Cole".
Friendship comes first and "J.P." lets "Bart Jason" go to save "Cole" whose in "Nelse's" line of fire. This is the last of the rapid fire sequences related to "Rio Bravo" the Leigh Brackett was ordered to do by Howard Hawks in his desire to turn "El Dorado" into "Rio Bravo".
"Joey" and one of the "MacDonald" wives comes to the jail house to tell the Sheriff that "Nelse McLeod" kidnapped her husband, "Joey's" brother, to force "Kevin MacDonald" to turn over his water rights.
A plan is made for a rescue and to stop "Bart Jason". "Cole" is driving a wagon with his left hand as his right it useless and has a rifle at his feet. "Maudie" will ride a little distance with him. They notice "Kevin MacDonald" and his family coming and "Cole' tells "Maudie" to stop them and give them a few minutes to attempt the rescue.
Four things things result:
1. The "MacDonald" son is rescued.
2. "Nelse McLeod" is killed by "Cole Thornton", but without giving him a chance for an honest gun fight. "Cole" pulls the hidden rifle out of the wagon's boot and just gun downs "McLeod".
3, "Bart Jason" is killed by "Joey"/
4. Proving he really doesn't know how to shoot even with a sawed off shotgun. "Mississippi" discharges the weapon hitting "Cole" in the leg. The film ends with both Wayne and Mitchum on crutches.
The real question here remains what was that original screenplay by Leigh Brackett and how did it end? Speculation, but was there a showdown between "Cole Thornton" and "Nelse McLeod". One in which neither won and both were killed? Unfortunately we will never probably know. What we do know, as I previously mentioned, was Brackett was extremely mad at Howard Hawks over making her change the screenplay to become a semi-clone of "Rio Bravo", but wait she still was involved with "Rio Lobo".
While the price of a comic book went up two cents since 1959. You can "Buy It Now" on Ebay for between $44.95 and $150 depending upon the seller and condition.
RIO LOBO (December 16, 1970)
"Rio Lobo" was the last motion picture made by Howard Hawks. At he time of it's release the director was 74 and John Wayne was 63.
"Rio Lobo" is considered the second remake of "Rio Bravo". The idea for the story came from writer Burton Wohl. It appears the Wohl basically wrote the novel versions of 12 motion pictures including: "The China Syndrome", "Rollercoaster", the Diana Ross movie "Mahogany" and a story based upon the popular television series "All in the Family".As a screenplay writer Wohl worked on just five motion pictures and "Rio Lobo" was one of them.
The actual screenplay for Howard Hawks' last motion picture was written once again by Leigh Douglas Brackett. However, apparently Hawks kept changing it while the motion picture was in production and once again wanted Brackett to somehow turn it into "Rio Bravo". As my reader will find out there are only four references to what was seen on screen in the 1959 feature.
While Howard Hawks told Robert Mitchum that "El Dorado" was to be character driven as all of his motion pictures I have mentioned in this article where. Somehow the one thing missing in "Rio Lobo" seemed to be well developed characters. Partly, because of the casting of two main roles and partly because of the constant changes being made to the story as filming was being done.
Rather then list the characters separately as I did for "Rio Bravo" and "El Dorado". In "Rio Lobo" only Jennifer O'Neil's "Shasta Delaney" has any connection to "Rio Bravo" and that vaguely makes her either "Colorado", or "Mississippi". Her employer, an unnamed Traveling Medicine Show operator, was murdered by one of the Deputy Sheriff's in the town of "Rio Lobo" and "Shasta" will kill him.
The total running time for "Rio Lobo" is 114 minutes and the opening set up runs approximately 36 minutes in length. The sequence begins during the last days of the Civil War and the audience sees John Wayne's "Colonel Cord McNally" talking to a Union Lieutenant at a train station. His group of men are awaiting news that Union Gold has been loaded aboard a train and is heading for him under armed guard.
Meanwhile a small group of Confederate troops are setting up to rob the gold train
Leading the group is "Captain Pierre Cordona" aka: "Frenchy", Jorge Rivero. "Cordonna's" mother was Mexican and his father French from New Orleans. "McNally" will keep referring to "Cordona" as "Frenchy" throughout the movie. Even after "Pierre" tells him remember his mother was Mexican. He's on the left in the following picture.
Above on the right is the other leader "Sergeant Tuscarora Phillips", Christopher Mitchum, the younger son of Robert Mitchum. "Tuscarora" and his father work a horse ranch in the "Rio Lobo" country.
The train leaves with the gold shipment and the Lieutenant in charge is instructed not to open the car to anyone else but "Colonel McNally". The Confederate plan goes into effect and hornets are let loose in the car with the gold. This forces the Lieutenant to open the moving car door and have his men jump out. The gold is taken and the Confederate troops flee.
The train is late and "McNally" is informed that the telegraph line is dead. He takes his troops to investigate.
They find the other soldiers and the Lieutenant, with a broken neck, all injured from the hornets. The Lieutenant will die the following day.
The pursuit starts. John Wayne and his men find a broken wagon and a pile of rocks giving the impression that perhaps the Confederate raiders are now on foot. "Colonel McNally" thinks its a faint especially when they find new wagon tracks. So he sends a few of his men in the direction of newer wagon tracks and he proceeds forward with the rest of his men until they reach a river. There he splits his remaining force sending them up river and he goes alone down river.
"Colonel McNally" spots "Captain Cordona" by himself with a bandage on his leg. He smells a trap and it is.
"McNally" is knocked out with a rock and when he awakes finds himself in a cave, wearing a Confederate jacket, and with a bandage on his head. He realizes he knows "Cordona" from before the war. The plan is to have "McNally" lead the Confederates soldiers around the Union lines. Cordona figures "McNally" won't reveal the group, because he might be shot as a Confederate Officer. However, "Colonel McNally" leads them instead to a large encampment of Union troops from Ohio.
The "Colonel" is able to capture both "Captain Cordona" and "Sergeant Phillips". He tells them that he knows somebody on his side had to tip them off about the gold shipment. They explain they were only given notes and never saw the man behind everything. The two are placed in a Union Prison camp.
The War ends and the "Cordona" and "Phillips" are released and find, as they expected "McNally" waiting for them. He asks if he can buy the two a drink?
Both men had been thinking and are able to provide "Colonel McNally" with a description of the two men that delivered the note to them. Which is more than he had to go one before.
Soon to be private citizen "Cord McNally" tells "Frenchy" and "Tuscarora" that he's heading outside of Blackthorne, Texas and if they remember anything more. He can be reached by the Sheriff in that town.
This entire sequence minus the opening and closing credits now leaves only about one hour and twelve minutes to tell the rest of the movie.
The audience next sees "McNally" arrive in Blackthorne and go to "Sheriff Pat Cronin", Bill Williams. Williams was one of the first television cowboys from 1951 through 1955 in "The Adventures of Kit Carson" and had started in feature films in 1944.
The two are talking in the Sheriff's office when Jennifer O'Neil's "Shasta Delaney" comes in and tells her story about the murder by a white haired deputy from the town of "Rio Lobo". As I said this is finally the first connection with "Rio Bravo".
The Sheriff explains he has no jurisdiction in another town and "Shasta" leaves. The two men go over to the hotel, as it has a bar and a place to eat at, for a drink. "Cordona" is asleep in his room. In walks the White Haired Deputy from "Rio Lobo" and two others.
"Shasta" with a hidden derringer will kill him and "Cronin", "McNally" and hearing the gun shots "Cordona" the others.
Looking at the bodies "Cordona" states the white haired deputy was one of the two men who gave him and "Tuscarora" the note about the gold shipment. At which point "Shasta" faints into "Cord's" arms. She is carried upstairs. After she wakes up the three talk and reluctantly "Cord" agrees that "Shasta" needs to go with them. She knows the town and "Shasta" wants the Medicine Show wagon.
As they set out the story cuts to "Tuscarora" arriving in "Rio Lobo" with horses from his father's ranch. The crooked "Sheriff 'Blue Tom" Henricks", Mike Henry, arrests "Tuscarora". The Sheriff claims he was stealing the horses.
"Blue Tom" was appointed by a large rancher named "Ketcham" who is bullying the smaller ranchers out of their land deeds with hired gun men. A variation of "Bart Jason" from "El Dorado", but not really "Nathan Burdette" from "Rio Bravo". At this point we only known "Ketcham" by his name.
Arriving in "Rio Lobo" "Shasta" takes "McNally" and "Cordona" to "Tuscarora's" girl friend "Maria Carmen", Susana Dosamantes, for help. She tells "Frechcy" were he can find a place to hide their horses and he leaves to move them out of sight.
While hiding the horses "Frenchy" sees somebody coming and ducks into another house. In it is a friend of "Tuscarora's" girlfriend named "Amelita", Sherry Lansing.
Sherry Lansing became the President of Production for 20th Century Fox Studio. Making her the first women to head a major studio. Afterwards she would become the CEO of Paramount Pictures.
"Cord", "Pierre" and "Shasta" go out to "Tuscarora's" fathers ranch. There they deal with some of the deputies of "Sheriff Henricks". "Cord" wants to know if "Old Man Phillips", Jack Elam, wants in on getting "Ketcham".
The three men go to "Ketcham's" ranch and take out the outside guards. There are other men, but not watching the ranch house. Entering it "Cord" confronts "Ketcham" only to discover he is the second traitor he was looking for "Union Sergeant Major Ike Gorman", Victor French.
"Ketcham/Gorman" is forced to reveal were the deeds to the land he's taken are hidden. "Cord McNally" forces "Ketcham" to sign back to the original owners the deeds. Using "Ketcham" as a shield the three leave the ranch and "Frenchy" is sent to get the cavalry. The other two head for town and the jail.
There "Cord" forces "Henricks" and his men to leave their gun belts and vacate the jail. With "Ketcham" covered by a shot gun the three men enter the jail house.and free "Tuscarora". It's decided to hold up in the jail until the cavalry arrive. The third variation on "Rio Bravo".
The next morning the Dentist "Dr. Ivor Jones", David Huddleston, arrives at the jail with some food. He says "Henricks" and his men won't bother him and "Cord" gives the Dentist the deeds to return to the ranchers. Earlier "Cordona" ran into a road block set up by "Henricks" and while trying to escape his horse gave way. A man approaches the jail house and tosses in a note. "Henricks" wants a trade of "Ketchum" for "Frenchy" in the morning. It's agreed upon and the audience is set for the one major comparison to "Rio Bravo". The trade of "Joe Burdette" and "Dude".
In the morning "Maria" and "Amelita" show up at the jail. Because they helped "McNally" and "Cordona" the two women were beaten up, but in the case of "Amelita" her beautiful face was cut to leave a deep scare by "Sheriff Henricks" himself.
"Amelita" has vowed to kill the Sheriff. The men now leave with "Ketcham".
Except "Nathan Burdette's" warehouse in "Rio Bravo" filmed 12 years earlier in 1958. The set for the trade is the same as was used in the first movie. When "McNally", "Tuscarora" and his father show up with "Ketcham". They find waiting to help all the ranchers who now have their land back.
The trade begins as the two men walk toward each other, but hearing a whistle from "Tuscarora". "Frenchy" jumps into the water leaving "Ketcham" just standing there.
At this point "Cord" yells to "Henricks" that "Ketcham" signed all the deeds back and "Henricks" kills his boss. The gun battle begins in earnest.
"Henricks" is wounded and starts using his rifle as a crutch. However, he has the barrel downwards and it is filling with dirt blocking it.
When "Henricks" fires the rifle it explodes in his face. This is followed up by "Amelita" with a rifle killing the Sheriff as she promised.
When the gun battle is over. "Frenchy" and "Shasta" are a couple. "Maria" and "Tuscarora" are a couple and it appears so are "Amelita" and "Cord McNally".
I pointed out the lifts from "Rio Bravo" Howard Hawks had Leigh Brackett make for "El Dorado" and especially "Rio Lobo". The first question is how many similarities added to a motion picture make it a "Remake"? That is for my reader to determine.
One Other Question Does Remain:
Had John Wayne and Howard Hawks not been inflamed over the politics they both saw in Stanley Kramer's 1952 motion picture "High Noon". Would any of these three pictures ever have been made?