Supposedly, when Quentin Tarantino was dating he used to run his own 35mm print
of Rio Bravo for each new girlfriend, and if she didn’t like it, he stopped dating her. This
may be apocryphal but it indicates Quentin’s passion for that John Wayne-Dean Martin-
Ricky Nelson-Howard Hawks Western first released in 1959. I share it—to me, Rio Bravo
is the most entertaining Western ever made, as well as the shortest long Western (2 hrs. 20
min.)—it just flashes by. Tom Petty feels the same way, and Westerns are his favorite kind
Back in 2007, I wrote a long piece on Rio Bravo for Peter Kaplan’s The New York
Observer, and they have it on their website. Peter loves Rio Bravo too. If you want to read
the full article, click here. And way, way back when the picture originally opened, I saw a
press screening of it at what used to be Loew’s 72nd Street Theater, and fell in love. I didn’t
yet know the work of Howard Hawks, but started looking into his filmography and realized
that four of my favorite pictures from the age of ten were directed by Howard Hawks:
Red River, I Was A Male War Bride, Sergeant York, and To Have and Have Not.
Three years later, in the summer of 1962, N.Y.’s Museum of Modern Art did the first Hawks
retrospective in the U.S., having been suggested and curated by me; the Museum also
published the first monograph on Hawks in America, “The Cinema of Howard Hawks,”
which consisted mainly of a long interview I conducted with Mister Hawks, which was the
beginning of a friendship with the director that lasted until his death in 1977.
And it all started with Rio Bravo, about which I wrote for Ivy Magazine (a short-
lived Ivy League publication) in 1959 that the picture was like a long , comfortable, vastly
enjoyable visit with some old friends. And it still is…..