Howard Hawks Remembers Rio Bravo

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Howard Hawks was an exceptional director who created countless cinema classics with Hollywood superstars like Cary Grant, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, and John Wayne. Below are some of his recollections about Rio Bravo and how the project came to be.

1. It was inspired by two movies.

Director Howard Hawks wasn’t a fan of High Noon. "I didn't think a good sheriff was going to go running around town like a chicken with his head off," he said. He also thought the fear displayed by the sheriff in 3:10 to Yuma was uncharacteristic of a lawman. As he critiqued these movies, he was encouraged to make a western the "other way," with a sheriff who could hold his own. And so, he did.

2. Hawk’s daughter got screen credit.

Barbara Hawks McCampbell, the director’s daughter, came up with an action sequence where the characters shoot sticks of dynamite to escape. For her contribution, she received a credit as the author of the short story the film was based on. Hawks said, “So out of the things that I didn’t like in other westerns, plus the stuff that Barbie had, we made a pretty good story out of it."

3. A deleted scene was used in another film.

The idea was for an outlaw to throw himself in front of a good guy riding a horse. The bad guy would then claim that since it wasn't in the horse's nature to step on a defenseless man on the ground that the good guy shouldn't shoot him. Hawks said, “Now, that is not strictly true. A horse will step on a man, but he’ll try not to.” In the end, Hawks felt that the film already had enough bad guys biting the dust and decided to save the idea for his next picture, El Dorado.

4. Hawks thought highly of Angie Dickinson.

He cast her after seeing her in an episode of Perry Mason, and the role was the young actress' big break. “I like Carole Lombard, I like Rita Hayworth, I like Angie Dickinson. They're the kind of stars that people like,” Hawks said.