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Howard Hawks: Muse to Quentin Tarantino

R_bravo Quentin Tarantino called Rio Bravo one of his all-time favorite films, and it’s not hard to see why. Like Reservoir Dogs, a lot of the movie’s drama (and comedy) derives from the dynamics among a group of guys who, on the surface, have little in common. But Hawks, like Tarantino, loved to explore group dynamics so much of what drives Rio Bravo has to do with the charged interactions between John Wayne and Dean Martin, Ricky Nelson and Walter Brennan.

More comfortable with including women into his films than his contemporary John Ford, Hawks cast a 26-year-old Angie Dickinson as the gambler who fancies sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne). When Wayne admitted that he was uncomfortable playing love scenes with an actress half his age, Hawks had writers Jules Furthman and Leigh Brackett work that tension into the script. (They’d had some experience, having done the same with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not.) It’s hard not to wonder if Tarantino wasn’t playing on that same schism by casting Uma Thurman against John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.

You can engage in a little compare and contrast yourself when Rio Bravo plays tonight, Thursday, January 3 at 8 p.m. EST | 7C on AMC.

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