Cast and Crew: Angie Dickinson, Ward Bond, Harry Carey Jr., Yakima Canutt
What It’s About: Sheriff John T. Chance must keep a dangerous prisoner (Claude Akins) in his jail for trial while the prisoner’s brother (John Russell) and allies try every trick they can think of to free him. Chance’s only allies are a drunk (Dean Martin), an old cripple (Walter Brennan) and a kid gunslinger out for vengeance (Ricky Nelson).
Why Watch it Today?: Dean Martin, who was born today in 1917, gives one of his best performances as a disgraced alcoholic deputy who cleans up his act to help his friend survive. Rio Bravo was a big comeback hit for director Howard Hawks, with a great cast of veterans with a few new faces. Hawks enjoyed the besieged jail scenario so much he reused it in El Dorado and Rio Lobo, and other directors (notably John Carpenter with Assault on Precinct 13 and The Ghosts of Mars) used variations on the same basic set-up in very different genres.