Rio Lobo: Wikis


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Rio Lobo
Directed by Howard Hawks
Produced by Howard Hawks
Written by Leigh Brackett
Burton Wohl
Starring John Wayne,
Jorge Rivero,
Jennifer O'Neill,
Jack Elam,
Christopher Mitchum
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography William H. Clothier
Distributed by National General Pictures
Release date(s) December 17, 1970 (U.S. release)
Running time 114 min.
Language English

Rio Lobo is a 1970 Western movie starring John Wayne. The film was the last film directed by Howard Hawks, from a script by Leigh Brackett. The film was shot in Technicolor with a running time of 114 minutes. The musical score was composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

It was the third film in a trilogy directed by Hawks varying the idea of a sheriff defending his office against belligerent outlaw elements in the town: the other two films were Rio Bravo (1959) and El Dorado (1966), both also starring John Wayne.



The film opens during the American Civil War. Col. Cord McNally (John Wayne) has instructions telegraphed to his close friend, Lt. Forsythe (Peter Jason), in charge of the Union troops on a Union army payroll train. However, Confederates led by Capt. Pierre Cordona (Jorge Rivero) and Sgt. Tuscarora Phillips (Christopher Mitchum) hijack the train. They have an elegant plan of listening in on the telegraph wires, greasing the tracks to stop the train, disconnecting the payroll wagon from the engine so it would roll back down the hill, using a hornet's nest to force the Union guards to jump off the train, then catching the train with many ropes tied to trees. In the process, Lt. Forsythe is fatally injured.

In the subsequent fighting, they trick McNally and capture him. But McNally leads them into a Union camp, pushes a branch forward, and lets it swing back to knock Tuscarora off his horse, then yells out to the camp. As the Confederates flee, McNally jumps Cordona. McNally realizes that a traitor must be selling information to the Confederate States of America, in order for the hijackings to be successful. McNally questions the pair, but they give him no information and are imprisoned.

When the War ends, McNally visits them as they are being released, and asks them to tell him from whom they got their information. When Tuscarora points out that they were the ones who had killed McNally's friends yet McNally has nothing against them, McNally replies that the killing was an act of war, while the one who sold them the information was a traitor. Unfortunately they don't know the traitors' identities, having only seen them from a distance. One was a big, dark-haired, mustachioed man, and the other was very white-haired and pale. McNally then tells Cordona and Tuscarora that if they should ever come across these men again, to contact him through a friend of his, Pat Cronin (Bill Williams), who is the sheriff of Blackthorne in Texas. Tuscarora is on his way to Rio Lobo, Texas where he grew up.

Later McNally is contacted by Cronin on instructions from Cordona. When he arrives in Blackthorne, however, Cordona is sleeping in a hotel room with a girl. While waiting for him, a woman, Shasta Delaney (Jennifer O'Neill), arrives, wishing to report a murder that took place in Rio Lobo. Cronin claims that there's nothing he can do, because Rio Lobo is outside his jurisdiction. Later a posse from Rio Lobo arrives and wants to take Delaney away. She claims, however, that the leader, "Whitey" (Robert Donner), is the murderer about whom she has been talking.

When one of the posse aims a gun at Cronin, Shasta shoots Whitey under the table, and Cronin and McNally finish off the posse. As the last one is about to shoot McNally, Cordona appears at the top of the stairs and shoots the gunman. Shasta faints from the shock of killing someone. Cordona tells McNally that Whitey was one of the men for whom McNally was looking. He goes on to tell McNally that Tuscarora had contacted him and had told him that he saw one of the men, for whom McNally is looking in Rio Lobo. He also reports that there is trouble in Rio Lobo and that Tuscarora needs help. His father and other ranchers are being bullied by a man named Ketcham, who installed his sheriff, "Blue Tom" Hendricks (Mike Henry), after Hendricks killed the previous incumbent.

So McNally, Cordona, and Shasta go to Rio Lobo, where they discover graft and corruption. Hendricks arrests Tuscarora on trumped up charges. For further help, they go to Tuscarora's father, Old Man Philips (Jack Elam). When the three sneak into Ketcham's ranch, McNally learns that Ketcham is really Sergeant Major Ike Gorman (Victor French), the traitor. McNally punches him around and forces him to sign the title deeds of the ranches back to their rightful owners. Philips then wires the triggers back, forming a dead-man's trap, on his double barreled shotgun so they can order Hendricks and his men out of the jail . They take over the town jail for cover, freeing Tuscarora, while Cordona goes for the Cavalry. Meanwhile, Tuscarora's girlfriend Maria Carmen (Susana Dosamantes) and her friend Amelita (Sherry Lansing) lend assistance. For that, Hendricks slashes Amelita's face, and Amelita swears to McNally that she will kill Hendricks.

However, Ketcham's men capture Cordona. Ketcham's gang offers to trade Cardona for Ketcham. In the meantime, word spread of the trade and roughly 20 ranchers (many who were part of the train raid) offered to help, knowing that, if McNally failed, the town would have gained nothing from the returned deeds. During the prisoner exchange, Cordona dives from the bridge into the river where Tuscarora was hiding. McNally yells out that Ketcham is now bankrupt, having signed the deeds back, so the sheriff furiously guns Ketcham down, and in turn, McNally and the sheriff shoot each other in the leg.

After a failed attempt to blowup the cantina McNally's force was in, they are out flanked and outgunned by the other ranchers who have come to help. Hendricks's men realize that, so they flee. Hendricks shoots at them, but he had been using his rifle as a walking cane and it had become clogged with mud, and it explodes in his face. As he stumbles to his horse, Amelita guns him down, thus keeping her word. The film ends with her helping McNally walk.


Rio Lobo
Soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith
Released 2001
Label Prometheus Records

All music by Jerry Goldsmith.

  1. "Captured" 1:38
  2. "New Arrival / Unexpected Gun" 3:00
  3. "A Good Teacher / Quiet Town / Cantina" 9:45
  4. "Plans / The Raid" 7:00
  5. "Scar / Hang on a Minute / Finale" 5:37
  6. "Main Title" 2:16
  7. "A Good Teacher (Complete)" 6:00
  8. "No Place to Go" 1:12
  9. "Cordona's Capture" 0:42
  10. "The Trade / Retribution / End Title" 6:41

Critical reaction

On its release, the film received mostly negative reviews.[1] The only notable positive review came from Roger Greenspun of The New York Times who said that the film was "close enough to greatness to stand above everything else so far in the current season."[2] His comments surprised other critics and resulted in numerous angry letters sent to the newspaper.[3] The poor performances of Christopher Mitchum, Jorge Rivero and Jennifer O'Neill were also strongly criticized. The film made $4.25 million (USD) in rentals, twentieth among the highest money-making pictures of the year.[4] It was to be Hawks' last film and is considered to be a second, if much looser, remake of Hawks’s and Wayne's classic 1959 film, Rio Bravo. (The first remake was El Dorado, with Wayne and Robert Mitchum).


Writer and reporter George Plimpton was cast in a minor role in this film (4th Gunman). Footage of him preparing for and filming his part was used in a documentary-like television special "Plimpton! Shoot-Out at Rio Lobo."

This was the last of two film acting appearances of Sherry Lansing, who later became the first female CEO of a major Hollywood film studio (Paramount). Her previous film role was in the same year, Loving.

A wanted poster in Sheriff Pat Cronin's office is for Hondo Lane, a character played by John Wayne in Hondo twenty years earlier.



  1. ^ McCarthy, Todd. Howard Hawks: The Grey Fox of Hollywood, New York: Grove Press, 1997.
  2. ^ Todd McCarthy, ibid.
  3. ^ Todd McCarthy, ibid.
  4. ^ Todd McCarthy, ibid.

External links



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