In preparation for a piece I’m writing for the HK Film Archive, I’m re-visiting a number of classic Westerns this week. After John Ford’s The Searchers, next on my list was Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo, a film I had only come to late, but one in which I took great pleasure re-watching. Perhaps more than any other genre, the western lends itself to allegory, but for the most part, Rio Bravo is all about entertainment. Featuring well rounded characters for its showy cast, including John Wayne and a delectably leggy Angie Dickinson, as well as crooners Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson, and a smart, frequently laugh-out-loud funny script from Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett, Rio Bravo never flags in all its 141 minutes. The frequently copied storyline sees a small-town sheriff forced to make a courageous stand when he arrests the brother of a noted bandit. Heavily out-gunned, supported only by a drunk (Martin) and a cripple (Walter Brennan), John T. Chance (Wayne) nevertheless commits himself to defending his prisoner until the U.S. Marshall arrives. For unabashed entertainment in the Wild West, Rio Bravo is tough to beat.