The Only John Wayne Western Quentin Tarantino Just Can't Stop Watching

The Only John Wayne Western Quentin Tarantino Just Can't Stop Watching
Image credit: Legion-Media

This explains a lot.


  • Director Quentin Tarantino has a famous passion for Westerns.
  • He can't stop watching 1959's Rio Grande.
  • The movie's 'hang culture' has had a direct impact on Tarantino's own work.

It's no secret that American filmmaker Quentin Tarantino loves spaghetti westerns – a genre of movies from the 1960s that take place in the American West but were shot in Europe.

Tarantino has frequently cited Sergio Leone (the Godfather of the spaghetti western) as one of his top influences. And Sergio Corbucci's 1966 spaghetti western Django is so high on Tarantino's list of faves that he drew from it when writing Django Unchained.

But Tarantino also loves good old fashioned American-made Westerns, especially ones with John Wayne (aka 'The Duke'). Tarantino has frequently cited his favorite movie of all time as one from The Duke's Wayne's catalog. No, it's not one of Wayne's most famous projects like True Grit (1969), Stagecoach (1939) or The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). It's a lesser known movie about a Sheriff under siege, called Rio Bravo.

He's Watched It Over and Over

In 2007, Tarantino introduced a private screening of Rio Bravo (1959) to an audience at the Cannes Film Festival. There, he said:

'I actually got a headache trying to contemplate how many times I have watched this movie… I can only remember the first time I saw it, which was when I was about five years old, and I watched it with my great-grandmother. I love it, she loved it, and it was funny because I discovered it later on my own when I was getting into [director] Howard Hawks.'

Tarantino has watched the movie countless times since then, and once said that his true test of a relationship is to have a woman over to watch Rio Bravo. Years ago he was quoted as saying,

'When I'm getting serious about a girl, I show her Rio Bravo and she better ****ing like it!'

We can probably assume that Tarantino's wife, the Israeli singer Daniella Pick, must have liked Rio Bravo an awful lot.

What's it About?

Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) is the spoiled younger brother of Nathan Burdette (John Russell), the area's most wealthy and influential landowner. Joe is used to his brother bailing him out of trouble, which he gets into plenty of: Joe starts the movie by taunting and beating the town drunk before shooting an innocent bystander.

When the Sheriff (Wayne) arrests Joe, he incurs the wrath of Nathan – who brings together a gang of mercenaries to bust his brother out of jail. The Sheriff must hold off the gang until reinforcements arrive, using only his wits and the aid of a handful of men. These include the drunk (Dean Martin), an old man, (Walter Brennan) and a baby-faced cowboy (Ricky Nelson).

A Great Hang

Rio Bravo has stood the test of time thanks to its excellent cast, good story, and the chemistry between the main characters. But what makes it Tarantino's standout favorite?

The director considers Rio Bravo one of the great 'hangout' movies, saying:

'There are certain movies when you hang out with the characters so much that they actually become your friends. It's a really rare quality to have in a film, and usually, those movies are quite long because it takes that long to get past the movie character where you feel like you know the person and you like them… Whenever you're watching it, you're just hanging out.'

This certainly explains a lot about how Tarantino developed his own style of filmmaking – he loves to have characters take a lull in the action to hang around and talk.

Although Rio Bravo isn't available to stream for free, you can rent the movie on YouTube, Amazon Prime or Apple TV+.

Source: Far Out Magazine