Howard Hawks Remembers Rio Bravo

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Howard Hawks was an exceptional director who created cinema classics with Hollywood stars 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," Hawks said. He also though the sheriff being scared in 3:10 to Yuma was also uncharacteristic. As he critiqued these movies, he was encouraged to make a western the “other way”. 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 the 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 Hawks film.

The idea was that a bad guy would throw himself down before another man on a horse and say, “A man can’t shoot you because a horse won’t step on a man.” Hawks said of the gag, “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 it for his next picture, El Dorado.

4. Hawks thought a lot of Angie Dickinson.

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