Rio Bravo Message Board

Ezekiel Steiner posts a message on 11/7/2005 8:22:56 PM For the same reason as I posted below, there are few close-ups in Hawks's films, and those only when absolutely necessary. A close-up usually creates a psychological effect through facial expression, whereas Hawks prefers to indicate emotion and thought through gesture and action. A characteristic scene occurs in Rio Bravo when Dude stands across the street and watches Sheriff Chance (John Wayne) force a hired gunman away from the jail by the tone of his voice in saying “Good evening.” We see Dude's face register his expression of awe and admiration for the man and the act. We see what has caused his reaction – ourselves responding as he does – and at the same time we get a complete sense of the essential personalities of the two antagonists. Without pans or cuts or close-ups Hawks has given us the entire situation in a single shot in a single instant. Ezekiel Steiner
Ezekiel Steiner posts a message on 11/7/2005 8:00:14 PM Unlike Hitchcock, Hawks doesn't use montage. He prefers to shoot scenes in one long take without disturbing our attention with disruptive cuts. There are few “reaction shots” – a technique for creating tension. In a reaction shot, if two people are talking, the camera will cut back and forth to record the reaction of the listener; or if a door opens while the camera is on one of the characters, the camera will give us that character's reaction before it shifts to the person who has entered. Hawks would rather keep all action in the same frame by using long shots. The relationship between characters interests him more than the individual. In Rio Bravo, Dude, Stumpy, and Colorado, the three flawed characters, sit in a close group in the jail singing. Chance, the man who saved them and brought them together, making this scene possible, stands apart from it. Both from the look on his face and from his physical position in the frame, we understand this complex attitude towards them. Ezekiel Steiner
Ezekiel Zeke Steiner posts a message on 11/2/2005 5:51:10 PM In Rio Bravo all the familiar stock characters are there- the taciturn two-fisted sheriff: his undependable sidekick: the young, inexperienced kid; the girl from the saloon; the old drunk or village fool for comic relief. Hawks takes these worn clichés and turns them around, works against them. The stock characters are portrayed realistically, in terms of how things probably were. John Chance, played by John Wayne acting against his usual image, is not the infallible lawman. In fact, though he always refuses help – for fear of getting men with families killed – he always needs it, and luckily for him it it's always there. Dude is more than undependable. He is a wreck of a man, self-destructive, humiliated, without any reason to live. Feather is not merely a pretty barroom singer; she is a strong, intelligent, independent woman who influences the hero far more than he does her. Stumpy is comic, but he is no relief. His foolishness is a carefully calculated mask to hide his fear and lack of belief in himself, qualities that he shares with the other characters. The plot is that of the hackneyed Western. The story is about five flawed people who desperately need each other without wanting to admit it, who teach each other self-reliance and self-respect, and who manage to redeem themselves with the considerable help of others. The action is moral as well as recognizably physical, and the subject is human dignity.

Note: the views expressed here are only those of the posters.
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