The Wayne Review: Rio Lobo
In which Killarney attempts to complete her New Year's Resolution of watching all John Wayne movies made after Stagecoach, for no better reason than she loves the Duke and wishes she lived out west.
Starring: John Wayne, Jorge Rivero, Jennifer O'Neill, Jack Elam, and Christopher Mitchum. Directed by Howard Hawks
After the Civil War, Col.. Cord McNally (Wayne) searched for the Union traitor who betrayed his unit and caused the death of close friend. Helping him are two former Confederates (Rivero and Mitchum) and the three converge on the Texas town of Rio Lobo, where a corrupt sheriff is blackmailing and strong-arming his way into becoming the biggest landowner in the county.
For those of you not conversant in Wayne lore, Rio Lobo is the second variation of Hawks' classic Rio Bravo (the Duke's answer to High Noon), in which a small town sheriff stands against a superior force of outlaws. The first variation was El Dorado, - so close in story that it was practically a remake - which also starred Christopher Mitchum's father, Robert. Rio Lobo is the weakest entry of the three, but it still has it's moments. The opening sequence, where the Confederates, acting on the spy's information, hijack a train carrying Union gold, is intense, and the second half is traditional western fun, especially when Wayne and Rivera meet the spunky Shasta, mourning the murder of her friend by the town's corrupt sheriff and the independent Amelita, who harbors her own grudge.
John Wayne plays the older, gruff loner and there are lots of shout-outs to his older movies, but the younger generation are given plenty of time and action. The women are strong, but underused, and the bad guys are somewhat one dimensional, but over-all it's a fun movie and it looks like they had a good time making it. John Wayne, kinda like Jackie Chan, brings a lot of the same crew with him in every movie and this one is no exception: almost every side character I recognized from his other movies.
In short, not one of his best movies, but still a blast to watch.
Best JW Quote:
"Ketchum, we promised you in a trade. We didn't say what condition you'd be in."
Best Swagger Moment:
On his way to the final showdown, John Wayne trades the ordinary rifle he carries for his signature one with the modified lever loop, saying with a satisfied grunt, "That's better."
JW Moment of Wisdom:
(Talking to the ex-confederates about the gold robbery and the spy that lead them to it): "What you did was an act of war - what he (the spy) did was treason."
Most Surprising Guest Stars:
Victor French (aka Mr. Edwards from Little House on the Prairie) is the spy that John Wayne beats the tar out of. Plus, Santa Claus (aka: David Huddleston) plays the town's dentist!
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