Rio Bravo (1959)

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Released 15-Aug-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Main Menu Audio
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1959
Running Time 135:14
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (50:44) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Howard Hawks

Warner Home Video
Starring John Wayne
Dean Martin
Ricky Nelson
Angie Dickinson
Walter Brennan
Ward Bond
John Russell
Pedro Gonzalez-Gonzalez
Estelita Rodriguez
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Dimitri Tiomkin

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Rio Bravo is another western from Director Howard Hawks, who is better known for his earlier work with Red River. I found Rio Bravo to be a quiet western that focused solely on one town and a few main characters that lived in it. There were no scenes involving wide open vistas, or roaming across the countryside on horseback and not once did I hear John Wayne mention the word "pilgrims". Although it was not a "classic" in my eyes like Red River is, it still made for good entertainment.

    The story begins with Dude (Dean Martin), an ex-deputy turned drunk walking into a saloon to try and lay his hands on some cheap liquor. Dude gets into an altercation with Joe, one of the town cowboys and an all-round bad guy. The Sheriff, John T. Chance (John Wayne), who tries to break up the fight only gets himself hit across the head with a plank of timber. When one of the other drinkers at the bar also tries to stop the fight, he suffers an even worse fate and is shot dead by Joe.

    Joe heads over to another saloon, presumably because he doesn't feel comfortable drinking with a dead body lying on the floor, and is soon followed by the Sheriff who arrests him for murder. Now that the all-round bad guy is behind bars, his brother Nathan and his army of gunmen are dead-set on springing Joe from jail. The Sheriff needs to hold out until the US Marshal arrives, which is a six day ride away. The bad guys have sealed up the town so that no one can get in or out of town. And, to make matters worse, all the Sheriff has helping him to maintain law and order is Dude the drunk and Stumpy (Walter Brennan), a game-legged old man.

    Stumpy was quite a humorous character, lightening the mood of the movie during several scenes quite well. I found that the young gun-slinger played by Colorado (Ricky Nelson), whose role doesn't come to the fore until later on in the movie, became a personal favourite character of mine. Rio Bravo was the first major film he starred in, and he did an excellent job. His quiet speaking manner and laid-back style gave the impression that he was someone who could be counted on when things started to get rough.

    Rio Bravo is not a typical Cowboys and Indians style of movie, but it was quite enjoyable and easy to watch (even when Dean Martin breaks into song).

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Transfer Quality


    Surprisingly for its age (1959), this movie had a better transfer than some of the more recent DVDs I have reviewed lately.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1. It is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image transfer was very clear and sharp throughout. This just goes to show that with a little attention to detail, movies of all ages can receive an incredible quality transfer. Shadow detail is good, with quite a large amount of detail revealed in the murky lighting of the jail cell and saloon bars. There is no noticeable low level noise.

    The colours were deliberately muted and drab which can be expected for a movie of this age and style. There were no irregularities with the colour rendition of this transfer - just don't expect any splashes of bright, primary colours, since there aren't any.

    There were no MPEG artefacts or aliasing that I noticed, other than some quite noticeable aliasing on Angie Dickinson's suit jacket at 32:52. There were film artefacts scattered throughout the movie, but I did not find them distracting. They were usually comprised of a hair or other small object. The largest of these were at 16:14, 21:50 and 67:29.

    The subtitles were accurate to the spoken word. The subtitles also included an English for the Hearing Impaired subtitle track. For those not familiar with the difference between these and ordinary English subtitles, Hearing Impaired subtitles annotate sound effects such as the actors' sighs, whistling and so forth along with the dialogue.

    This disc is an RSDL-formatted disc, with the layer change placed between chapters at 50:44. It is well placed and was not disruptive to the flow of the movie.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The only audio tracks on the disc are in Dolby 1.0 (English, French and Italian), so with such a broad choice I listened to the English audio track.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times with no apparent hiss.

    There was only one section where I noticed an audio sync problem, at 5:57, when Chance was speaking. It was brief and then didn't seem to happen again.

    The musical score by Dimitri Tiomkin was your typical slow western theme that was quite a catchy tune. The action sequences tended to have a lot of background music and came across quite loudly. The only criticism I would have of the music is that at times during the action sequences, I felt that the level could have been a little lower. The range between the base dialogue and the action sounds was too broad for my liking and occasionally I reached for the remote to adjust back to a comfortable listening level.

    As this was a mono track, the surround channels and subwoofer slept through the entire movie.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    The only extra on this disc is a Theatrical Trailer.


    The menu design is themed around the movie. The main menu features a still clip from the movie and theme music audio.

Theatrical Trailer

    Personally, I found that this trailer didn't do the movie justice. Like the movie, it was presented with Dolby Digital 1.0 sound.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    There is nothing compelling here to favour one version over the other.


    Rio Bravo was not your typical Cowboys and Indians movie, and even though the plot was rather thin, it was still enjoyable.

    I think the rather high quality of the video transfer made it easier to watch. The audio could have been better balanced between the loudest and quietest sequences, however.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Wednesday, September 12, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer XV-DV55, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe 72cm. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer XV-DV55
SpeakersPioneer S-DV55ST-K Satellite wall mouted 5-Speaker System; Pioneer S-DV55SW-K Powered Subwoofer

Other Reviews NONE
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Region 1 versus Region 2 and 4 - REPLY POSTED