I watched Rio Bravo last night. It was the first John Wayne movie I'd ever seen. I watched him closely to see why he is so widely loved. From what I could tell, his cardinal quality was an ability to seem taxed and on the ball at the same time. He ambles around like he's got the weight of the world on his shoulders--and, in this movie, he certainly does--but doesn't seriously contemplate giving up for even a moment and has constantly got his mind bent towards doing what's right and needs to be done, without regard necessarily for his own well-being.
Dean Martin was also in the movie and was very effective playing the alcoholic deputy trying to be a lawman again. The look on his face when someone threw a dollar in the spitoon was perfect. You could see the conflict in his face as he wants to get the dollar so he could buy a drink but doesn't want to humiliate himself.
Another singer, Ricky Nelson, was also in the movie. Ricky couldn't act at all and had the typical bearing of the sweet young guy of the mid-century. His character was kind of cool, though.
And Angie Dickenson played Wayne's love interest and she was great. Steely but vulnerably quirky at the same time. There's a sweet moment when she rather willfully interprets Wayne's "I'm gonna arrest you," as "I love you." But she seemed very intellegent and seemed wonderfully to relish having the intellectual upper-hand on Wayne several times.
The movie was directed by Howard Hawks, who seems to be a very un-obtrusive director. He didn't seem to have the kinetic chops of William Wyler or some of his other contemporaries. He seemed to enjoy a lot of static shots and very simple tracking shots. All of his movies that I've seen feel almost like filmed plays, featuring characters standing around rooms or entering and exiting them, with close-ups and long shots, not usually from any strange angles. But, you know, Hawks really seemed to be a master of this format. He seemed to know exactly when to do what. I think a good way to see his talent his to watch a number of his movies, and then to watch The Outlaw, the movie Howard Hughes fired Hawks from in order to direct himself. Hughes' bumbling instincts for these set-ups really make you appreciate Hawks.
Yesterday, I went to my parents' house to find my sister's dog, Bella, was already gone. They're moving to Orange County and so they decided it'd make things easier to give the energetic chihuahua/yorkie mix away now. But I knew they'd been itching to be rid of the little girl for all the three months or so they've had her. She was too much for them, and I knew she would be. But it kills me that this poor little dog, that I really liked, is going to have to adjust to a new home and everything at a young age when it'll be especially hard for her. Where ever she is now, she's probably crying . . .