Posts from Robbie in thread „Rio Lobo (1970)“

    There has not been much talk about this movie on this board. I thought I'd post the following movie review that I found on the Internet.

    Reviewed by David Williams (May 12, 2003)

    By the time 1970’s Rio Lobo hit theaters (director Howard Hanks’s last feature and his fifth with John Wayne), Wayne’s persona was starting to become worn out and tired with many viewers and the Western genre was starting to fade into the silver screen background. However, I’m not one of the aforementioned “many viewers” and as I see it, no matter how many John Wayne movies you’ve seen or how many times he’s essentially played the same character over and over, there’s just something nostalgic about watching “The Duke” work. While Rio Lobo isn’t considered one of Wayne’s best – and more than likely considered middle-tier in mot circles – it’s still a treat and a pleasure to see one of the greatest American actors of all-time, John Wayne, do his thing in almost any film.

    The film deals with the spectacular robbery of a Union Army “pay train” that is hijacked by a band of Confederate soldiers. When a protégé of Union Colonel Cord McNally (John Wayne) is killed in the daring robbery, McNally vows to capture the men responsible. However, McNally is the one who ends up getting captured. However, after spending some time with his captors, McNally learns to respect them as soldiers and he holds no ill will towards the Confederates – Pierre Cordona (Jorge Rivero) and Tuscarora Phillips (Christopher Mitchum). Although McNally comes to realize that the men were just doing their job as soldiers, he turns the tables on them and sets them up to be captured by the Union just as the Civil War happens to be winding down. As the War officially comes to an end, McNally approaches the duo of Cordona and Tuscarora, as he knows that they couldn’t have pulled off the job without some sort of insider information from someone in the ranks of the Union Army. McNally meets Cordona and Tuscarora over drinks and while they admit they paid off some Union soldiers to tell them about the shipment, they honestly can’t recall who they were. McNally tells them where he can be reached after the War in case they ever come across the treasonous soldier and the three part ways.

    Fast forward a year or so later and McNally runs across one of his former soldiers now serving as a sheriff in Blackthorne, Texas. As the two are catching up with each other, a beautiful young woman, Shasta Delaney (Jennifer O’Neill), shows up and says she wants to report a murder in the neighboring town of Rio Lobo that was performed by a deputy in the town. The sheriff says that he cannot help the young lady, as Rio Lobo is out of his jurisdiction. Soon thereafter, four deputies from the town of Rio Lobo – including the one that supposedly performed the murder - show up in Blackthorne and attempt to take Miss Delaney back to Rio Lobo at gunpoint. This doesn’t sit too well with the sheriff - or McNally – and a shootout ensues that ends with the four deputies from Rio Lobo being shot dead and Cordona showing up out of the blue to help finish them off. The chain of events peaks McNally’s interests, as he seems to think that there’s more than meets the eye in Rio Lobo. McNally, as well as Cordona and Delaney head out to Rio Lobo to see what’s amiss.

    When they arrive in Rio Lobo, they find the town literally held hostage by a sadistic sheriff named Hendricks (Mike Henry) and a wealthy landowner named Ketcham (Victor French). Ketcham showed up in Rio Lobo after the War ended and hired a bunch of outlaws and gunslingers to help protect his interests and in turn, started muscling in on the other landowners to force them to sell him their property as well. While in town, McNally and crew also hook back up with old friend Tuscarora Phillips and they meet his father (Jack Elam), who just so happens to be a rancher in Rio Lobo that has been threatened by Hendricks and Ketcham. While making a move on Ketcham for his current transgressions, McNally and the others learn that Ketcham also happens to be the Union soldier that they have been looking for who sold out his comrades and the Union “pay train” just a few months back.

    With all that’s developed, a showdown is in order and it’s escalated by the fact that Ketcham is captured and held by McNally and his crew, Hendricks and his deputies have them surrounded, and Cordona is being held captive by Hendricks and his cronies. When the “exchange” of prisoners is set to take place, it erupts into a gunfight galore that ends in true John Wayne fashion.

    Rio Lobo, while entertaining, is a stock Western that managed to generate some genuine action and excitement, as well as some wonderful tension between the “good guys” and the “bad guys”. To top it all off, the whole deal ends up being settled with an Old West style shootout. What more could you ask for?!? The film contained some good performances by all those involved and managed to remain entertaining after many years of having not seen it in any form or fashion.


    I was disappointed that Hawks blamed the failure of this movie almost exclusively on John Wayne. Claiming he was too old to make movies, needed a big co-star like Mitchum to help carry the movie and questioned whether Duke was worth his one million dollars per picture fee.

    Hawks should have remembered that only before this movie in True Grit and after it in Big Jake and the Cowboys, Duke was able to carry the movie himself and these movies were superior in quality etc compared to Rio Lobo. I feel Hawks has to take much of the blame for the failure of Rio Lobo.



    Originally posted by etsija@Mar 14 2006, 01:55 PM
    I like Hawks' joking about Duke, like in Rio Bravo he has a girl, in El Dorado he "knows a girl" and in Rio Lobo he's "comfortable". And that scene at the dentist, (from memory) "I wouldn't need to hurt you, if you could act". :P
    The film has a warm feeling in it, Howard and Duke are both comfortable, it doesn't take much effort from them to make a small movie like this, and the same time it's nostalgic, they are not coming any younger. As Hawks put it "Duke was not that big cat anymore"


    John Wayne wasnt a big cat anymore, I couldn't agree less as he had just won the Academy award and his stature was only getting bigger.

    That was a good interview with O'neill although I was disappointed that she didnt consider duke a 'great actor'.

    I always thought that the scene at the Dentist was improvised about Duke not being a good enough actor on account that he had just won the oscar. Does anyone have that great picture from the set of Rio Lobo showing the entire cast along with Dukes horse wearing eyepatches.