PBR Streetgang wrote:
Hey Jake can you elaborate a little on Howard Hawks studying TV for Rio Bravo? I did not know any of this but I wanna know all there is to know about Hawks so please enlighten me.
Here or in the directors thread, whatevs
After making the big failure of Land of the Pharaohs, Hawks went on a hiatus in Europe and came back to the states. When he came back he was intrigued on how popular TV was (he hadn’t seen any TV before) and noticed that people would come back to it because of the people in them and not necessarily the plot of each episode. That’s where I feel the whole hangout aspect of Rio Bravo is most firmly rooted. So he used the star personas he worked with and focused on them for the majority of the film, much more than any normal director would do. There really isn’t a lead up to a big event at the end and the event that is there (the dynamite bit) is entirely focused on the stars. Like tv shows, the set even is unusually stripped down to its barest essentials, the jail, the hotel, a barn. Any props you do see are there for practical reasons rather than as a décor to make things look as real life as possible. There is hay on the ground in the barn not for verisimilitude, but for the purpose to throw hay in the eyes of the antagonists. The town is also not loaded with extras and Hawks stays away from the traditional “pretty” western shots of big skies and ranges. In a way it’s almost anti-Ford in how he conducts it, straying away from copying surface reality to focus on what he does best, displaying the most enjoyable group of characters/people that we’ve all come to know through their star personas. People love John Wayne, people love Dean Martin, people love Walter Brennan. Let’s make a movie where they just hang the fuck out and focus on that.
Hawks did mention that the film can actually be dissected and seen as 3 different television stories separated into 3 different parts, each would make good tv shows themselves. Dude trying to get over his alcoholism, John Wayne’s shaky confidence with a woman, and the whole defending the town thing which aids the forward moving component, tho drawn just enough to move the movie forward without deterring the magic of the chemistry of the group. Another thing that Hawks was good at doing was to find his originality through tradition even stock types. Stumpy and Carlos are very comical, reminding you of the goofy sidekick type in tv shows, but they are treated and presented in very human ways. They are there to help Chance and Dude when they are in need and the comraderie and personality clashing of the group is a pure joy to watch again and again.