Dean Martin Westerns / Rio Bravo / 1959

21 Feb

Cool Water / Walter Brennan


Dean Martin Westerns / Rio Bravo /1959

4 years after his split with Jerry Lewis, Dean made his second Western:
Rio Bravo – Western Classic.

I’ve covered Rio Bravo somewhat, so I’m just gonna show a couple of images and move on. Good images though.


In 1958 Dean Martin was 41 years old.


James CagneyJohn CassavetesEdmond O’BrienRod SteigerRichard WidmarkJohn IrelandTony CurtisCary GrantHenry FondaGlenn FordWilliam HoldenVan JohnsonBurt LancasterRay MillandSpencer Tracy and Robert Mitchum were considered for Dude. Howard Hawks also supposedly negotiated for Frank Sinatra for the role.
(MFW: Good grief !!! I woulda hired most any of these guys on the spot.
But Dean was great.)


Montgomery Clift, who was bisexual and a liberal Democrat, turned down the role of Dude, because he didn’t want to work again with John Wayne and Walter Brennan who were both strongly conservative Republicans. They had previously worked together in Red River (1948). Clift suggested his The Young Lions (1958) co-star Dean Martin for the role of Dude, and so Martin’s agent immediately approached Howard Hawks with the idea.


 Hawks agreed to meet with Martin at 9:30 the next morning. When Hawks learned that Martin had done a show in Las Vegas until midnight, and hired a plane to fly him to the meeting, Hawks was so impressed that he simply sent Martin to get a costume and told him he had the part.


Cast as an alcoholic battling inner demons, Dean turned to his friend Marlon Brando for advice about playing the role.


Mostly due to Dean’s Italian background, the film was a huge success in Italy, laying the groundwork for the following decade’s Spaghetti Western boom.


Dean later admitted that he found the part of Dude very difficult to play.
(MFW: It doesn’t show. Nice job Dean.)


The movie was filmed at the famous Old Tucson Studios. Many Westerns Films and TV Westerns have been shot here – including the great Western Classic Gunfight at OK Corral (1957). Filming outdoors was often a chore due to the 120-degree heat and an invasion of grasshoppers that fried on the hot lights and littered the sets.


In 2014, Rio Bravo was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.





12 Responses to “Dean Martin Westerns / Rio Bravo / 1959”

  1. maui1 February 21, 2017 at 7:08 pm #

    What a great post on Dean Martins Westerns. I really like all the photos of Dean Martin.




    • jcalberta February 21, 2017 at 8:16 pm #

      It’s a favorite of many. Thanks for the comment.


  2. Cindy Bruchman February 22, 2017 at 4:21 am #

    41?? He looks 51. All that booze and cigs! Anyway, I love Rio Bravo. It’s my favorite western. 🙂


    • jcalberta February 22, 2017 at 10:10 am #

      Maybe I got my math wrong. I’m just a cowboy you know!
      You’re likely right about the booze though. Other trivia says he was hung over quite a bit on the set.


      • Cindy Bruchman February 22, 2017 at 10:16 am #

        I don’t remember how he died, but if it wasn’t lung cancer, it was surely a pickled liver.


  3. Colin February 22, 2017 at 6:21 pm #

    This has got to be Dino’s greatest role in what is unquestionably one of the great westerns – a slow, meandering and slight tale elevated to something marvelous by the quality of the writing, direction and acting.


    • jcalberta February 22, 2017 at 7:22 pm #

      Dean proved he could act when called upon. (though some claim he wasn’t acting. LoL) Hawks put it all together nicely.


  4. Don Ostertag February 22, 2017 at 6:56 pm #

    That was quite a group of fine actors considered for the role of Dude, but I don’t think it would have been as great a picture if Martin didn’t play Dude. Actually, Mitchum did play ‘Dude’ in EL DORADO.
    RIO BRAVO is one of my favorite movies. I watch it every couple of months.


    • jcalberta February 22, 2017 at 7:12 pm #

      You’re dead on about EL DORADO. It was pretty well a remake. They had the formula down. James Caan played Ricky Nelson’s part and Arthur Hunnicutt got the Stumpy (Brennan) role.


  5. JP February 23, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

    My favorite Dean Martin movie for sure. The work he did on his character certainly struck a chord with me. Pretty good for a future rat-packer.


    • jcalberta February 24, 2017 at 6:35 pm #

      Dean could Act if required. Most of the time it wasn’t. Frank was also an excellent Actor. Sammy too. A talented bunch!
      But I think Dean was a genuinely nice person as well.


  6. thoughtsallsorts March 2, 2017 at 4:19 am #

    I am so overdue to watch this (don’t ask why I’ve never watched this)…not only for John Wayne but for Dean Martin. The only western I know with him in is Something Big…gosh, that brings back some memories too…wonder if it is still available…I used to watch it on Super 8 with my parents.


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