Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New on DVD: Rio Bravo (1959)

There are a number of great new John Wayne DVD releases in honor of the Duke's 100th birthday -- see The Shelf for a rundown -- but perhaps the release I've most anticipated is RIO BRAVO, one of the greatest Westerns ever made.

The new 2-Disc Special Edition includes a commentary track -- oh noooo, it's Richard Schickel! -- a featurette with Angie Dickinson, and the MEN WHO MADE THE MOVIES episode on Howard Hawks.

You just can't beat this movie, with its marvelous cast, also including Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson, and Walter Brennan. Nelson and Martin singing in the jailhouse is movie magic.

Mike Clark had a fun column today in USA TODAY which included a list of Clark's Top 12 favorite Wayne movies. His Top 12 list, in order: THE SEARCHERS, THE QUIET MAN, RED RIVER, THEY WERE EXPENDABLE, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE, RIO BRAVO, FORT APACHE, REAP THE WILD WIND, THE HIGH AND THE MIGHTY, DONOVAN'S REEF, HATARI! and EL DORADO.

Such lists, of course, can be highly personal -- I too would probably include DONOVAN'S REEF in the list because I associate it with many happy viewing memories, though it's not really a "great" film. I don't think anyone would quibble with THE SEARCHERS and THE QUIET MAN heading the list.

But -- just because movie lists are fun -- I've really got to question some of his inclusions and omissions. (If anyone else wants to play along, please join in on the comments!) FORT APACHE is an excellent movie, but Wayne's role is subordinate to that of Henry Fonda's. On the other hand, the next "cavalry" movie, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON, contains one of Wayne's greatest performances and without question it would be No. 3 on my Wayne list.

The other two films that would absolutely be on my own list are RIO GRANDE (a beautifully crafted Western which only gets better with time) and ANGEL AND THE BADMAN (ditto). I would pull REAP THE WILD WIND, HATARI!, and RED RIVER or LIBERTY VALANCE off the list to make room for these -- which again shows how personal lists can be. RED RIVER and LIBERTY VALANCE are wonderfully crafted films which have received much critical acclaim, but though I can admire them, I don't warm up to them so much, with their "darker" version of Wayne.

My 15-year-old son, a major Wayne fan who rewatches the Duke's movies on a regular basis, chuckled when he saw REAP THE WILD WIND on the list. Entertaining enough, but Top 10? He immediately wanted to know, what about MCLINTOCK!?




Blogger dino martin peters said...

Hey pallie Laura, just a little note to say that I wouldn't agree with you more about Ricky and Dino's jailhouse song...it is pure movie magic. And while we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Duke's birth, we will also be celebratin' the 90th anniversary of the Dude! Never was, never will be anyone as cool as the King of Cool. Oh, to return to the days when Dino walked the earth!

6:20 AM  
Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

I haven't watched every John Wayne movie (although I have many set to record from TCM this week) but I watch my favorites over and over. I prefer the comedies: Donavan's Reef, McClintock, and The Quiet Man.

Recently, the kids and I watched The Horse Soldiers. It wasn't bad. I also saw Hondo. People always talk about Hondo but I didn't care too much for it.

I really don't care for The Searchers or The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. However, the closing scene of The Searchers is worth the whole movie to me - such poetry. It's no wonder Peter Jackson homaged it with the last scene of LOTR.

I keep trying to watch The Wings of Eagles because I hear it's great but seeing John Wayne so vulnerable is a painful thought.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Dino Martin Peters, I'll be checking out your site. :)

Mrs. H.H., I often skip the first half hour of THE SEARCHERS as it's so emotionally draining! I haven't seen WINGS OF EAGLES either. Hard to believe since I'm such a fan of the Wayne-O'Hara team, but as you say it might not be so easy to watch. Someday! HONDO and THE HORSE SOLDIERS are also on my "to watch" stack. It's kind of nice knowing there is still "new-to-me" Wayne to look forward to -- ISLAND IN THE SKY is another that comes to mind.

If you haven't seen ANGEL AND THE BADMAN and recorded it today, I hope you enjoy it -- it's a lovely film.

Best wishes, Laura

3:10 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Happy Housewife said...

I saw Angel and the Badman about 3 years ago and really liked it. Last night, the kids and I watched Allegheny Uprising - not really good but interesting. I think some of John Wayne's acting was a bit off in the movie. We're going to have a John Wayne marathon today at my house because my DVR is jam-packed with the TCM movies from yesterday.

4:19 AM  
Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

What I think is so great is that in a recent poll of best loved Movie Stars, John Wayne placed 3rd after Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington and ahead of 7 other living movie stars! That's pretty good for a guy that left us 30 years ago.
I think there are those in my generation and in the generation after mine that are discovering John Wayne for themselves, and not in the context of the Vietnam War. It's as if we see what our grandparents saw. In fact I was introduced to the Duke through my grandfather, like several of my film loving friends. It speaks to the endurance of the themes of his characters and stories, and the timelessness of his, his costars and the directors talents.
By the way- The Searchers remains one of my favorite JW movies. And the first half has some great lines! ("I've been baptized, Reverend") I think the cinematography and direction and the acting in that movie is vastly superior to many of his other films (and anything at the Cineplex today). There is so much conveyed in his eyes, in the quiet gestures of the characters and in the framing of the landscape that speaks volumes. So many movies rely on witty dialogue to tell a story, and are so heavy with it, that their is hardly any room for acting.
BTW- check out The Shelf this weekend for a special article on JW and a top ten list of our favorite JW westerns. We know its all subjective, but it's so much fun.

6:33 AM  
Blogger Missy said...

I posted my favorite John Wayne movies on my blog a few days ago, but a few comments here. The Wings of Eagles is depressing and Maureen is off screen a lot. I have a partial MP3...somehow it got damaged...of Ricky and Dino's song, but I enjoy listening to even that partial bit.

9:43 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'll be looking for more good stuff at the Shelf, J.C. -- Top 10 lists are always fun. :) It's been a real pleasure that you and Wolf have been able to post frequently of late. Thanks for the preview!

I agree about the great lines early on in THE SEARCHERS -- sometimes I watch the beginning and sometimes I wait until they start their search. I've found, particularly since becoming a parent, that I have real difficulty getting through that sequence where the Indians are coming -- it haunts me. But it's all so beautiful! (Random observation: The early scenes of Mel Gibson's THE PATRIOT remind me somewhat of THE SEARCHERS, with their warm glow and sense of impending doom...seems like I read somewhere the cinematographer was going for a "Fordian" look.) Anyone who thinks Wayne wasn't a great actor need only watch THE SEARCHERS and SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON back to back to have that notion firmly put to rest!

Missy, you did a great job on that Wayne post...everyone else interested in this topic should be sure to check out the link!

Best wishes, Laura

12:06 AM  

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