I might not have known a lot about anything much but what I did know all about was nonsense. And this, plainly, was first class nonsense. Being dead but still alive. It sounded like the sort of silly thing I always said when I didn’t know what I was talking about. If you were still alive, then you weren’t dead—that was that. Dead meant not being alive. And the cat was dead. It was not alive somehow somewhere else in feline heaven or hell or anywhere else. It was dead! What they told me in church, then, was a lot of wishful thinking and codswallop.
Now, just exactly how much the adoption of this philosophically atheistic stance had to do with my fanatical desire to avoid wasting my Sundays in church was difficult to judge, but what was certain was that church was a great trouble to me, in more ways than one. It always had been.
Rio Bravo was not the greatest western (that was High Noon) nor even John Wayne’s best (The Searchers) but it is arguably, amongst many contenders, the most classic example of the genre. It has been repeated innumerable times; even Wayne redid the same story twice. He is amazingly relaxed as he plays Marshal John Chance who aids alcoholic sherriff Dean Martin (who attempts to be a serious actor) to hold a prisoner while the outlaw gang attempts several clever ploys to try and free him. They are assisted by Stumpy, a toothless grumpy trigger-happy Walter Brennan and Angie Dickinson as the scarlet woman who fancies Wayne, and rather less notably by Ricky Nelson. John Russell and Claude Atkins are impressive heading up the baddies. It is the easy-going style and laconic gentle humour of the piece that sets it apart. The gunfight choreography is especially impressive, and the whole thing a perfect movie experience.