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Monday, April 15, 2024

Rio Bravo (4K UHD Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


A sheriff and his deputies defend a town from a lan baron's hired guns as they hold his brother for six days while awaiting the U.S. marshal in this classic Howard Hawks western starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson, and Ricky Nelson.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Director Howard Hawkes’ western Rio Bravo is often cited as one of the greatest westerns of all time. Starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Ricky Nelson, the film is a story about the camaraderie between men and their stand together as their town is threatened.

Set in Texas during the 1860s, Wayne plays Sheriff John T. Chance alongside Martin as his alcoholic deputy Dude. Chance is holding Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) for the murder of an unarmed man in a fight in a saloon. Joe happens to be the brother of wealthy land baron Nathan Burdette (John Russell) who has a grip on the town and can hire all the guns in the county to break his brother out of the town jail. All Chance and Dude have to do, along with the cantankerous old deputy Stumpy (Walter Brennan), is hold Burdette there until the marshal shows up in six days. In the meantime, Chance tries and fails to recruit a young gunman, Colorado (Nelson) who rides into town, but does eventually become friendly with him, which will come into play later.

Countering all this testosterone is the gorgeous Angie Dickinson who plays dancehall entertainer Feathers. She first runs afoul of Chance when he arrests her for cheating at poker but must let her go when Colorado reveals the real culprit. Feisty, flirtatious banter between Chance and Feathers ensues as the danger facing the group and the town looms.

The crux of this film is the interplay between the main male characters, particularly Chance and Dude. Chance, trying his best to help Dude ween off of the bottle and rebuild his confidence as a deputy and gunman, is like the father figure and Stumpy the grandpa. Ricky Nelson, still with his shocking young 50’s pop idol looks, is the younger brother ready to go his own way but ultimately loyal to the family. The film was so influential that John Carpenter would basically remake it in an urban setting as Assault on Precinct 13 (1976).

  • Angie Dickinson in Rio Bravo (1959)
  • Dean Martin in Rio Bravo (1959)
  • John Wayne and Angie Dickinson in Rio Bravo (1959)
  • John Wayne and Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo (1959)
  • John Wayne and Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez in Rio Bravo (1959)
  • Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo (1959)
  • Angie Dickinson in Rio Bravo (1959)
  • Angie Dickinson in Rio Bravo (1959)
  • John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Ricky Nelson in Rio Bravo (1959)
  • Rio Bravo 4K Ultra HD (Warner Bros.)

The Video

Warner Bros. worked in partnership with Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation to restore and remaster Rio Bravo. The film is presented in 1.85:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) HDR10. This is a solid restoration with no issues regarding source damage like dirt or scratches and there is mostly a good layer of grain present. I say ‘mostly’ because there seems to be some obvious grain manipulation going on here so that the backgrounds can look a bit soft, and some smearing of the grain is apparent. Look at the early scene where John Wayne is leaning against the water trough having a conversation. Every time he moves his head you can see the grain moving or swirling with the brim of his hat. There are also a few spots where faces look a little too smooth. Overall, this does not reach the same level as the companion release of East of Eden from Warner Bros. which shows none of these issues. Apart from these small issues, the film looks good and the HDR brings a good sense of vibrancy to the dye-transfer Technicolor and ‘pop’ to flames in the lamplights and reflections on belt buckles.

The Audio

The original monaural audio mix for Rio Bravo is included in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. It has been restored well, with clear dialogue and sound effects.

The Supplements

Rio Bravo, like the companion release East of Eden, gets a barebones disc with only a single audio commentary. It is a good one, though, with John Carpenter and Richard Schickel.

  • Movies Anywhere Digital Code
  • Audio Commentary by John Carpenter and Richard Schickel

The Final Assessment

A classic western that still holds up and defies its over two-hour run time with memorable dialogue (“You want that gun? Pick it up; I wish you would!”) and likable characters. Warner Bros. Has restored it to the best it has ever looked despite some flaws.

Rio Bravo is out on 4K Ultra HD August 1, 2023, from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

  • Rating Certificate: Approved
  • Studios & Distributors: Armada Productions | Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
  • Director: Howard Hawks
  • Written By: Jules Furthman | Leigh Brackett | B.H. McCampbell
  • Run Time: 141 Mins.
  • Street Date: 1 August 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: HDR10
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 3163 nits
    • MaxFALL: 193 nits
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
  • Secondary Audio: French DD 1.0 | German DD 1.0 | Italian DD 1.0 | Spanish (Castilian) DD 1.0 | Spanish (Latino) DD 1.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH | French | German SDH | Italian SDH | Spanish (Castilian) | Spanish (Latino) | Dutch | Danish | Finnish | Norwegian | Swedish

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A sheriff and his deputies defend a town from a lan baron's hired guns as they hold his brother for six days while awaiting the U.S. marshal in this classic Howard Hawks western starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, Angie Dickinson, and Ricky Nelson.Rio Bravo (4K UHD Review)