As we get ready to present a 35mm print of Rio Bravo at New York’s Roxy Cinema next weekend I’ve been thinking a lot about the anecdote, once oft-told by the man himself, that any girl Quentin Tarantino just started dating would be shown Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo as acid test: love it or leave me. As a kid Rio Bravo was as much about Tarantino (whose work I knew) as Howard Hawks (take a guess), and some two decades hence––with enough experience under my belt that I might prefer El Dorado––it’s fun hearing him actually praise the film at length, passionately, with the personal lens that defines his criticism in Cinema Speculation.
This video comes from a special screening Tarantino hosted at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, in only four-and-a-half minutes the filmmaker cramming enthusiasms. More than his own, it’s what he hopes and expects the audience will take from it: the ability to hang out with each character, develop profound understandings of them as real people, and through this rewatchability essentially render them friends. But in even deeper, more personal terms Tarantino feels Hawks helped him, a fatherless child, adopt a surrogate parent.
Meanwhile there’s John Carpenter, whose fandom for Howard Hawks has been the seeds of an entire career and cinephilia. It’s fascinating to observe both directors have their distinct youthful attachments to Rio Bravo: while Tarantino took it as a story of friendship and vision of fatherhood, for 10-year-old John Carpenter this film’s vision of professionalism––in terms characteristically his, being good enough not to “let the demons drag you down” while fighting great evil––sparked creative instincts. No surprise to fans that, without Rio Bravo, the likes of Assault on Precinct 13 or Prince of Darkness simply wouldn’t exist, but knowing this interest began so young emboldens the film’s power threefold.
Watch both videos below, and read more details about our 35mm Rio Bravo screenings presented with the Francis Ford Coppola’s The Rain People, making its New York premiere in a new 4K restoration.