Rio Lobo


1h 54m 1970
Rio Lobo

Brief Synopsis

A Civil War veteran searches for the traitor behind a friend's death.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Western
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
Chicago opening: 16 Dec 1970
Production Company
Malabar Productions
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
Country
United States
Location
Cuernavaca, Mexico; Arizona, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 54m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

As the Civil War nears its end, a band of Confederate guerrillas led by Capt. Pierre Cordona and his scout, Tuscarora, steal a shipment of gold from a Union train. Although they also capture Union Col. Cord McNally, he eventually outwits them and retrieves the gold. When the war ends and the men meet again, McNally asks Cordona for the names of the traitors who informed the Confederates of the gold shipments, but Cordona replies that he never knew their names. Shortly thereafter, McNally rides into a Texas town and aids Shasta, a young woman whose medicine show partner has been murdered by a sheriff's deputy from nearby Rio Lobo. Cordona is also in town, and he tells McNally that the Union traitors have taken over Rio Lobo. Accompanied by Shasta, the two former enemies ride into Rio Lobo and learn that Deputy Ketcham and Sheriff Hendricks have confiscated land from the people, with the exception of old man Phillips, Tuscarora's grandfather. To force the issue, Hendricks arrests Tuscarora on trumped-up charges and throws him in jail, but McNally, Cordona, and Phillips take Ketcham hostage, force him to sign back the stolen land, and make him order Hendricks to release Tuscarora. They then barricade themselves inside the jail while Cordona goes to the nearest Army post for help. He is captured, however, by Hendricks' men and brought back to Rio Lobo; Hendricks then demands that Ketcham be exchanged for Cordona. Forced to comply, McNally releases his hostage but informs Hendricks that his partner signed back all the stolen land. Enraged, Hendricks shoots Ketcham and starts a massive gunfight. Hendricks is killed by his former mistress, and McNally's forces emerge victorious as the timid townspeople rally to defeat their common enemy.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Western
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
Chicago opening: 16 Dec 1970
Production Company
Malabar Productions
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
Country
United States
Location
Cuernavaca, Mexico; Arizona, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 54m
Sound
Stereo
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

Rio Lobo


Although in interviews published at the time, Howard Hawks indicated he would be producing and directing more films, Rio Lobo (1970) turned out to be the last in a career that began in 1926 and turned out great classics in every genre: the gangster drama Scarface (1932), the comedies Twentieth Century (1934) and Bringing Up Baby (1938), the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), action films such as Only Angels Have Wings (1939) and Air Force (1943), the Bogart-Bacall mystery/thrillers To Have and Have Not (1944) and The Big Sleep (1946), and such great Westerns as Red River (1948). Oddly enough, the director now considered one of the top film artists in Hollywood history was never awarded for any of his work and only received one Oscar nomination, for Sergeant York (1941). The Academy finally redressed the omission with an honorary award in 1975, two years before his death.

Many reviewers at the time lamented Rio Lobo as a disappointing end to a distinguished career, pointing out the many similarities between this and two earlier Hawks projects with John Wayne, Rio Bravo (1959) and El Dorado (1966), which are considered superior. Hawks dismissed this criticism by noting how often Hemingway reworked the same themes and plot devices in his stories. "Very often [a director] looks at the picture and says, 'I could do that better if I did it again,'" he told Peter Bogdanovich. "I'm not a damn bit interested in whether somebody thinks this is a copy of it, because the copy made more than the original, and I was very pleased with it."

In Rio Lobo, Wayne is a Union captain who teams with two former Confederate soldiers right after the Civil War to track down a stolen shipment of gold. In the process, they end up in a town terrorized by a crooked sheriff. Wayne and his cohorts stop the corrupt official's tyranny and inspire the townspeople to stand up for themselves. The screenplay was written in part by Leigh Brackett, who scripted the two earlier Westerns with which this was compared, as well as three other Hawks films. One of the more notable female writers to span both the old Hollywood studio system and post-studio productions (her last screenplay was for the Star Wars entry The Empire Strikes Back, 1980), Brackett was brought onto this project after Hawks fired writer Burton Wohl. She followed the director's instructions, against her better instincts, to push the story back toward the two earlier Westerns. "Most of what I did on Rio Lobo was to try and patch over the holes," she later said. "I was unhappy that [Hawks] went back to the same old ending of the trade."

That ending, however, underwent some changes when Hawks became disenchanted with his leading lady. Jennifer O'Neill had been a top model with small roles in a couple of previous pictures when he cast her in his Western. He later said the leading role went to her head and, although still a relative unknown, she arrived on set with an entourage and the attitude of a major star. Hawks became so fed up with what he perceived as her uncooperative nature and lack of experience that he cut her out of the ending and gave her lines to a supporting player, Sherry Lansing (the same Sherry Lansing who later became the very successful head of 20th-Century-Fox and later Chairman of Paramount Pictures). Not that he left Lansing alone either. She has noted how he made her lower her voice and tailor her image to be a reflection of an earlier unforgettable Hawks discovery Lauren Bacall. "He attempted to control every aspect of your life, how you dressed, what you did in your spare time. ... In his world, you were required to be the image, not the person."

Hawks had issues with the remainder of his leading cast as well. Jorge Rivero, a Mexican star making only his second American picture, was deemed by the director as too slow and unappealing. Christopher Mitchum was no more than a substitute for his famous father (and Wayne's El Dorado co-star) Robert Mitchum, who Hawks failed to entice into the picture. Even Wayne came under some criticism. The two had worked well and often together since Hawks first cast the actor in Red River, an important milestone in Wayne's career as both an actor and a Western star. But Wayne was now in his 60s and already suffering from the cancer that would kill him nine years later. "Wayne had a hard time getting on and off his horse," Hawks told Bogdanovich about the production. "He can't move like a big cat the way he used to. He has to hold his belly in; he's a different kind of person."

Hawks was assisted on this project by two great Western veterans. William Clothier had been the cinematographer on five of John Ford's films and an Oscar nominee for The Alamo (1960), directed by Wayne. Legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt, whose career encompassed nearly 200 pictures between 1915 and 1975, served as second unit director and uncredited stunt coordinator. This was only his second venture with Hawks (after Rio Bravo), but Canutt had stunt doubled on more than 35 Wayne movies since 1932.

Director: Howard Hawks
Producer: Howard Hawks
Screenplay: Leigh Brackett, Burton Wohl
Cinematography: William H. Clothier
Editing: John Woodcock
Production Design: Robert Emmet Smith
Original Music: Jerry Goldsmith
Cast: John Wayne (Col. Cord McNally), Jorge Rivero (Capt. Pierre "Frenchy" Cordona), Jennifer O'Neill (Shasta Delaney), Jack Elam (Phillips), Sherry Lansing (Amelita).
C-114m. Letterboxed.

by Rob Nixon
Rio Lobo

Rio Lobo

Although in interviews published at the time, Howard Hawks indicated he would be producing and directing more films, Rio Lobo (1970) turned out to be the last in a career that began in 1926 and turned out great classics in every genre: the gangster drama Scarface (1932), the comedies Twentieth Century (1934) and Bringing Up Baby (1938), the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), action films such as Only Angels Have Wings (1939) and Air Force (1943), the Bogart-Bacall mystery/thrillers To Have and Have Not (1944) and The Big Sleep (1946), and such great Westerns as Red River (1948). Oddly enough, the director now considered one of the top film artists in Hollywood history was never awarded for any of his work and only received one Oscar nomination, for Sergeant York (1941). The Academy finally redressed the omission with an honorary award in 1975, two years before his death. Many reviewers at the time lamented Rio Lobo as a disappointing end to a distinguished career, pointing out the many similarities between this and two earlier Hawks projects with John Wayne, Rio Bravo (1959) and El Dorado (1966), which are considered superior. Hawks dismissed this criticism by noting how often Hemingway reworked the same themes and plot devices in his stories. "Very often [a director] looks at the picture and says, 'I could do that better if I did it again,'" he told Peter Bogdanovich. "I'm not a damn bit interested in whether somebody thinks this is a copy of it, because the copy made more than the original, and I was very pleased with it." In Rio Lobo, Wayne is a Union captain who teams with two former Confederate soldiers right after the Civil War to track down a stolen shipment of gold. In the process, they end up in a town terrorized by a crooked sheriff. Wayne and his cohorts stop the corrupt official's tyranny and inspire the townspeople to stand up for themselves. The screenplay was written in part by Leigh Brackett, who scripted the two earlier Westerns with which this was compared, as well as three other Hawks films. One of the more notable female writers to span both the old Hollywood studio system and post-studio productions (her last screenplay was for the Star Wars entry The Empire Strikes Back, 1980), Brackett was brought onto this project after Hawks fired writer Burton Wohl. She followed the director's instructions, against her better instincts, to push the story back toward the two earlier Westerns. "Most of what I did on Rio Lobo was to try and patch over the holes," she later said. "I was unhappy that [Hawks] went back to the same old ending of the trade." That ending, however, underwent some changes when Hawks became disenchanted with his leading lady. Jennifer O'Neill had been a top model with small roles in a couple of previous pictures when he cast her in his Western. He later said the leading role went to her head and, although still a relative unknown, she arrived on set with an entourage and the attitude of a major star. Hawks became so fed up with what he perceived as her uncooperative nature and lack of experience that he cut her out of the ending and gave her lines to a supporting player, Sherry Lansing (the same Sherry Lansing who later became the very successful head of 20th-Century-Fox and later Chairman of Paramount Pictures). Not that he left Lansing alone either. She has noted how he made her lower her voice and tailor her image to be a reflection of an earlier unforgettable Hawks discovery Lauren Bacall. "He attempted to control every aspect of your life, how you dressed, what you did in your spare time. ... In his world, you were required to be the image, not the person." Hawks had issues with the remainder of his leading cast as well. Jorge Rivero, a Mexican star making only his second American picture, was deemed by the director as too slow and unappealing. Christopher Mitchum was no more than a substitute for his famous father (and Wayne's El Dorado co-star) Robert Mitchum, who Hawks failed to entice into the picture. Even Wayne came under some criticism. The two had worked well and often together since Hawks first cast the actor in Red River, an important milestone in Wayne's career as both an actor and a Western star. But Wayne was now in his 60s and already suffering from the cancer that would kill him nine years later. "Wayne had a hard time getting on and off his horse," Hawks told Bogdanovich about the production. "He can't move like a big cat the way he used to. He has to hold his belly in; he's a different kind of person." Hawks was assisted on this project by two great Western veterans. William Clothier had been the cinematographer on five of John Ford's films and an Oscar nominee for The Alamo (1960), directed by Wayne. Legendary stuntman Yakima Canutt, whose career encompassed nearly 200 pictures between 1915 and 1975, served as second unit director and uncredited stunt coordinator. This was only his second venture with Hawks (after Rio Bravo), but Canutt had stunt doubled on more than 35 Wayne movies since 1932. Director: Howard Hawks Producer: Howard Hawks Screenplay: Leigh Brackett, Burton Wohl Cinematography: William H. Clothier Editing: John Woodcock Production Design: Robert Emmet Smith Original Music: Jerry Goldsmith Cast: John Wayne (Col. Cord McNally), Jorge Rivero (Capt. Pierre "Frenchy" Cordona), Jennifer O'Neill (Shasta Delaney), Jack Elam (Phillips), Sherry Lansing (Amelita). C-114m. Letterboxed. by Rob Nixon

George Plimpton, 1927-2003


George Plimpton, the wry, self-effacing author whose engaging film appearances enlivened many movies over the years, died of a heart attack on September 25 in his Manhattan apartment. He was 76. George Ames Plimpton was born on March 18, 1927 in New York City. The son of a diplomat, he was well connected to high society. A scholarly man of the letters, hip, urbane bohemians knew him for decades as the unpaid editor to the much respected literary quarterly, The Paris Review, which introduced emerging authors such as Gore Vidal and Jack Kerouac. In 1963, the gaunt, unassuming Plimpton documented his time training with the Detroit Lions, and turned the antics into a shrewd, witty piece of sports fulfillment, Paper Lion. The film was adapted for the big screen by Alex March in 1968 with Alan Alda playing the role of Plimpton. That same year, he made his film debut as a reporter in Gordon Douglas' police thriller The Detective (1968) starring Frank Sinatra and followed that up with an amusing cameo as a gunman shot my John Wayne in Howard Hawks' Rio Lobo (1970). A few more cameos came up over the years, but it wasn't until the '90s that he proved he himself a capable performer and found regular film work: an appropriate role as a talk show moderator in Jodie Foster's Little Man Tate's (1991), the president's lawyer in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995); a psychologist in Gus Van Zandt's Good Will Hunting (1997); a clubgoer in Whit Stillman's discursive drama The Last Day's of Disco (1998); and a very comical doctor in Jean- Marie Poire's Just VisitingThe Simpsons playing a professor who runs a fixed spelling bee! He is survived by his wife Sara Whitehead Dudley and four children. Michael T. Toole

George Plimpton, 1927-2003

George Plimpton, the wry, self-effacing author whose engaging film appearances enlivened many movies over the years, died of a heart attack on September 25 in his Manhattan apartment. He was 76. George Ames Plimpton was born on March 18, 1927 in New York City. The son of a diplomat, he was well connected to high society. A scholarly man of the letters, hip, urbane bohemians knew him for decades as the unpaid editor to the much respected literary quarterly, The Paris Review, which introduced emerging authors such as Gore Vidal and Jack Kerouac. In 1963, the gaunt, unassuming Plimpton documented his time training with the Detroit Lions, and turned the antics into a shrewd, witty piece of sports fulfillment, Paper Lion. The film was adapted for the big screen by Alex March in 1968 with Alan Alda playing the role of Plimpton. That same year, he made his film debut as a reporter in Gordon Douglas' police thriller The Detective (1968) starring Frank Sinatra and followed that up with an amusing cameo as a gunman shot my John Wayne in Howard Hawks' Rio Lobo (1970). A few more cameos came up over the years, but it wasn't until the '90s that he proved he himself a capable performer and found regular film work: an appropriate role as a talk show moderator in Jodie Foster's Little Man Tate's (1991), the president's lawyer in Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995); a psychologist in Gus Van Zandt's Good Will Hunting (1997); a clubgoer in Whit Stillman's discursive drama The Last Day's of Disco (1998); and a very comical doctor in Jean- Marie Poire's Just Visiting

Quotes

Don't you worry Ketcham. You're gonna be the FIRST to die!
- Phillips
Ketcham, we promised you in a trade. But we didn't say what CONDITION you'd be in!
- Col. Cord McNally
I should've taken you this morning!
- Sheriff Tom Hendricks
You should'a TRIED!
- Col. Cord McNally
Mr. Phillips; you watch Ketchum while we go inside.
- McNally
Sure thing, Colonel. If you hear a loud noise, it'll be Mr. Ketchum dyin'.
- Phillips
Dammit, Mr. Phillips! Don't you know any other songs?
- McNally
I don't know this one. That's why I keep practicin'.
- Phillips
Don't I get a beer?
- Phillips
Not as long as you're playin' that harp.
- McNally
I'll put it up! (throws harp in the trashcan) What about Ketchum; he don't get no beer, does he?
- Phillips

Trivia

Writer and reporter George Plimpton was cast in a minor role in this film (4th Gunman) while collecting research on the film industry.

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Arizona and Cuernavaca, Mexico.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States November 6, 1970

Released in United States Winter December 16, 1970

"Rio Lobo" was Howard Hawks' last film; he died December 26, 1977.

Released in United States November 6, 1970 (Chicago)

Released in United States Winter December 16, 1970