Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rio Bravo's influence on Quentin Tarantino

I just saw Rio Bravo and couldn't help but remember that Quentin Tarantino has it listed in his three favorite movies and there's a youtube clip out there of him giving an introduction to the film at a private screening at Cannes Film Festival this past year.

When I think about it, Rio Bravo is very much a prototype to the kinds of buddy cop films and action spectacles we see today. The action sequences in Rio Bravo are brief but they are gripping, and more importantly masterfully and carefully choreographed. The scene where Chance ducks out of the way while Stumpy shoots two guys dead in the jail room, seems like a power play pulled out of a Jean Claude Van Damme film.

That kind of masterfully planned out violence combined with the light-hearded camaraderie is so prevalent on modern filmmaking and in Quentin Tarantino's own stuff that I'm surprised it's not more obvious.

To be honest, Rio Bravo is one of the few Westerns I've seen where a lot of white people are getting shot at and killed and none of the characters seem to think much of it and I don't think the camera/director wants us to think much of it either.

Let me try to compare this to the Westerns I've seen: In Shane, how many deaths were there in the film? Jack Palance kills someone and that's made a big deal of because he's been humanized, there were people in the community who cared for him. Then Shane shoots i think 3 people in the final showdown (maybe 4).

In High Noon, a big deal was made out of this sheriff killing 4 people and no one would risk their lives to help defend him because that meant not getting killed either.

In films like The Searchers and Stagecoach there's a lot of aimless shooting but at Indians, which were kind of marginalized in the films. When someone is killed in The Searchers, be it Lucy or Ethan's sister-in-law, then it's treated with a lot of gravity.

Then there were later pictures like Wild Bunch and Leone's films which had a lot of killing but Wild Bunch was like 10 years later. Dean Martin shoots one guy dead when he's checking to see his shoes, they shoot 2 or 3 more in the prison and at the final showdown they shoot another 10 people dead without thinking much of it. This is the kind of stuff I'm used to seeing in a James Bond or Death Wish film but not a 1959 Western.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

I finally bit the bullet and saw this thanks to Netflix streaming. I shockingly loved it. It had gun battles, it had explosions, the killing was quick and dirty (obviously QT didn't get that memo) and it had the token love interest although a 22 year old in love with John Wayne was a bit creepy. All in all it felt like an early action film. A precursor if you will. It reminded me that Star Wars has been called a Space Western and sometimes there is a reason why Han (or the sheriff) shoots first.

Now I have to see the other two versions and see what think.