Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
How Did Nicole Kidman's 'Grace of Monaco' Go From Cannes Opener to Lifetime Movie? The Movie's Writer Tweets All How Did Nicole Kidman's 'Grace of Monaco' Go From Cannes Opener to Lifetime Movie? The Movie's Writer Tweets All A.O. Scott on Why the New York Times Changed Its Review Policy A.O. Scott on Why the New York Times Changed Its Review Policy The Best Films of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival According to Criticwire The Best Films of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival According to Criticwire The Top-Rated Movies of 2015 So Far: Literary Stories and New Genre Favorites The Top-Rated Movies of 2015 So Far: Literary Stories and New Genre Favorites 'Aloha,' With Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone: Cameron Crowe's Worst Movie, or Just One of His Worst? 'Aloha,' With Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone: Cameron Crowe's Worst Movie, or Just One of His Worst? First Cannes Reviews: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "The Assassin" First Cannes Reviews: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's "The Assassin" First Cannes Reviews: Gaspar Noé's 'Love,' A 3D Art-Porn Mashup First Cannes Reviews: Gaspar Noé's 'Love,' A 3D Art-Porn Mashup First Reviews: Netflix Series 'Sense8' Goes 'Full Wachowski' First Reviews: Netflix Series 'Sense8' Goes 'Full Wachowski' Daily Reads: Why Critics Don't Have to Review 'Game of Thrones,' The Clash of Action in 'Avengers' and 'Mad Max,' and More Daily Reads: Why Critics Don't Have to Review 'Game of Thrones,' The Clash of Action in 'Avengers' and 'Mad Max,' and More The New York Times Is No Longer Reviewing Every Movie That Opens in New York The New York Times Is No Longer Reviewing Every Movie That Opens in New York Meditations on a Mad Man Meditations on a Mad Man Every Shot From David Letterman's 'Late Show' Farewell Montage Every Shot From David Letterman's 'Late Show' Farewell Montage 'San Andreas' Turns 9/11's Tragedy Into Pure Corn 'San Andreas' Turns 9/11's Tragedy Into Pure Corn The Mary Sue Freezes Out 'Game of Thrones' to Protest Yet Another Rape Scene The Mary Sue Freezes Out 'Game of Thrones' to Protest Yet Another Rape Scene Daily Reads: The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, Why Your Favorite TV Show Was Cancelled, and More Daily Reads: The Secret History of Ultimate Marvel, Why Your Favorite TV Show Was Cancelled, and More What Critics Are Saying About David Letterman's Final 'Late Show' Episode What Critics Are Saying About David Letterman's Final 'Late Show' Episode Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more Daily Reads: Why No One Remembers "Avatar," the Best Blu-rays and DVDs of 2014, and more First Cannes Reviews: Todd Haynes' "Carol" First Cannes Reviews: Todd Haynes' "Carol" The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World The Children's Book from 'The Babadook' Will Terrify You in the Real World Daily Reads: 'San Andreas' and the Art of Destroying L.A., Why Ferris Bueller is the Real Villain of his Day Off, and More Daily Reads: 'San Andreas' and the Art of Destroying L.A., Why Ferris Bueller is the Real Villain of his Day Off, and More

The Religion of 'Rio Bravo' -- And Other Great Movies

Criticwire By Matt Singer | Criticwire April 13, 2012 at 2:03PM

Follow the Hawks, For The Hawks Leads the Way.
1
"Rio Bravo."
"Rio Bravo."

Just about anyone who's seen "Rio Bravo" would agree: it's one of the greatest Westerns -- if not one of the greatest American films -- of all time. But at Observations on Film Art earlier this week, David Bordwell went even further. He called "Rio Bravo" "the Sacred Text," "The Way," and the "true path." His is the religion of "Rio Bravo."

Bordwell analyzes "The Tao of 'Rio Bravo'" from every imaginable angle, and then from a couple unimaginable ones. My favorite part is when he delves deeply into the spiritual significance of the characters' names:

"Far from being an accident, the names in the Sacred Text are there to impel the Initiate into deeper mysteries. Is, for instance, Stumpy The Elder called Stumpy because of his lameness—always a sign of grace in sacred texts? Because of his inertness (as stiff as a stump)? Or because a tree, even though harvested, retains its attachment to the earth by remaining rooted? Perhaps He Who Is Called Stumpy is “grounded,” as the current saying has it."

I would add more to Bordwell's assessment, but there's nothing to add. It is, like the Sacred Text itself, perfect.

It's perfection, however, made me wonder: what movies make up my personal religion? I love "Rio Bravo" and have seen it many times, but I came to it relatively late in life. I'm not quite a Born Again Hawksian; I don't pray to the Holy Trinity of my rifle, my pony, and me. There are movies, though, that have inspired my personal, metaphysical growth. Here's a few of them, along with their relevant lessons:

"The Sting" (1975, George Roy Hill):

-You can't trust everything you hear on the radio.
-A sink full of ice to the face makes a handy hangover cure.
-The world is full of cheaters.  The only way to beat them is to outcheat them.

"Taxi Driver" (1976, Martin Scorsese):

-Do not engage in conversation with a New York City cab driver.
-Always remain skeptical of men with very long fingernails.
-"Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets."

"Ghostbusters" (1984, Ivan Reitman):

-Career tragedies are destiny's way of putting us on the right path.
-Never, under any circumstances, attend a party hosted by an accountant.
-When life gives you giant marshmallows, roast them.

While I go off and ponder the many similarities between "Ghostbusters" and "Rio Bravo," it's your turn to chime in: what movies have inspired your own religious epiphanies?

Read more of David Bordwell's "The Tao of 'Rio Bravo;' Or a Yakky Way of Knowledge.'"

This article is related to: Rio Bravo, Retro/Active, David Bordwell


E-Mail Updates



Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome