Saturday 1 April 2023

Movie Review: Rio Lobo (1970)

Genre: Western  
Director: Howard Hawks  
Starring: John Wayne, Jorge Rivero, Jack Elam, Jennifer O'Neill  
Running Time: 114 minutes  

Synopsis: After the end of the Civil War, former foes Cord McNally (John Wayne) and Pierre "Frenchy" Cordona (Jorge Rivero) become allies. Cord embarks on a personal mission to identify traitors responsible for the death of a close friend. His quest reunites him with Frenchy, and they team up to help the widow Shasta Delaney (Jennifer O'Neill) in her mission to seek revenge on the evil men dominating the town of Rio Lobo.

What Works Well: The opening train holdup scene is patient and contains more than one original nugget. Cinematographer William H. Clothier captures some elegant vistas, and John Wayne contributes reliably robust presence.

What Does Not Work As Well: The final movie directed by Howard Hawks is a disappointing and dispirited effort, going through the motions of retreading elements from the much better Rio Bravo and El Dorado. Here the plot meanders with notable clumsiness, never achieving focus nor a sense of place. The aimless drift is confirmed by an unimaginative but still cluttered supporting cast and barely defined villains. The anachronistic Jennifer O'Neill is particularly exposed in an underwritten role.

Conclusion: A tired horse munching on stale oats.

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