Rio Bravo , itself the director's claimed riposte to High Noon, was remade by Hawks a few years later as El Dorado. I prefer the first run through, as it has Brennan as Stumpy in the jail, a couple of good songs, the Deguello moment, and Angie Dickinson in a subplot subversive of the masculinity which is paraded elsewhere. El Dorado of course has Mitchum, Caan's Mississippi with the hat (better than Bravo's one-note Nelson), and is arguably an all-round tighter film. (An even looser remake, Rio Lobo appeared a few years after this)
Hot women. No contest, a landslide victory for EL DORADO, loaded with hot babes, while RIO BRAVO has nothing but women next door looks. EL DORADO by a million landslides.
John Wayne vs. John Wayne. Now, this is also based on the writing of the characters as much as the actors. It's still equal, but the EL DORADO duke is a little more interesting.
Robert Mitchum vs. Dean Martin. Mitchum by a landslide, due both to his charisma, acting, and the writing of the character. EL DORADO by a landslide.
Brennan vs. Hunnicut, no offense to Brennan, a great actor, but a landslide victory for Hunnicut due to the writing of the role. Brennan's character was nothing more than a feeble old charity case. Hunnicut's character was written with inegrity. EL DORADO by more than a landslide.
Nelson vs. Caan. Caan did more with the role, but Nelson's character was much more three dimensional. "Mississippi" was just a vengeful punk out to murder four men, and no one in his right mind believes Mississippi and his mentor weren't demonic cheats. I still root for Charlie against the punk kid. Caan just did a masterful snake oil sales job on the character. Nelson had a much more interesting character, so the nod here goes to RIO BRAVO by a quarter of a landslide.
Head honcho villain. I like Asner, but really this is a tie.
Tough guy villain. Akins and George both are great at chewing up the roles and making them fun. Christopher George seems to really love doing funny death scenes. Akins didn't really do a lot after his beginning bit of savagery. I give the edge to the George character because of the "fun factor". A quarter of a landslide victory for EL DORADO.
So, it doesn't take much Math to see that EL DORADO wins by several landslides over RIO BRAVO, but both are great fun.
Rio Bravo. Even though Caan is infinitely better than Nelson and Mitchum gets a slight nod over Dino it all comes down to Stumpy. Walter Brennan is the man. Also whoever referred to Angie Dickinson as just a girl next door is crazy. She was hot as hell in this.
One of those film buffs on the Turner Classic/etc. type channels, commented once that these two movies (plus Rio Lobo) were attempts to make the same movie- but each time they were trying to make it better. I don't know if it was true or not, although it was an interesting idea. Kind'a like remakes today, where they reboot franchises every 4-7 years and remake movies every 9-15.
Robin Wood wrote a short book-length critical appraisal of Rio Bravo a few years back for the British Film Institute.
Here's a review of that work by me, revised from elsewhere, which seems relevant here:
Robin Wood was a critic whose career fell into two halves: in the first part he was very much concerned with auteurism ; towards the end he grew more preoccupied with Marxist and gay theory. This book shows Wood (sometimes struggling) to bring such various concerns together, although what results is never less than an interesting read. Hawks can clearly be seen as the principal creative force in his films, reflecting similar concerns, right down to repeating preferred lines of dialogue. They can be broadly divided into 'adventures' and 'comedies', the former usually being set outside of American national boundaries, the latter very much part and parcel of a consideration of internal American society. It is no surprise that Wood is quick to agree that Hawks is an 'auteur' - the director as the 'author' - thus reflecting the exalted status Hawks enjoyed with the French critics at Cahiers du Cinema (an estimation which, ironically the writer admits he was initially slow to grasp.)
What some will find harder to accept is Wood's attempt to weave other matters into his interpretation. Having identified 'self-respect' as a central concern of the film, ( I agree, but would also consider abutting 'spheres of professional competence' as another 'way in'), does it follow that such issues necessarily involve the rejection of capitalism, apparently characterised by the compulsions of such a character in the film as villain Burdette? Or, is Wood right to sense an underlying homosexual theme in the case of Dude and Colorado, especially when, as the writer notices, the two barely speak a word to each other? Wood admits that he just wants them together and this reader senses that he builds a case from that. Rio Bravo is certainly a Western whose range of elements include moments of camp and feminization - think of Wayne and the red pants - but there's a risk of, well, just making too much out of things. Wood is also strangely ill-informed when he criticises the end of the film, being apparently unaware that Hawks was constrained to shoot a new ending based on censors and studio preferences. In a critic's poll Wood famously voted Rio Bravo best film of all time, clearly conflating (and I say this as a huge admirer of Hawks' masterpiece) 'most favourite' with the 'objectively best'. One can query Wood's judgement elsewhere too; for instance his claim that Hawks' "worst film" is El Dorado (essentially a remake of Rio Bravo from a few years later). Anyone given a choice between watching, say, Hawks' Land of the Pharaohs or his El Dorado again would, I suspect, not suffer hard decisions.
But Wood's book is not all so controversial; his detailed analysis of the various relationships permeating the film is considered, and he is sympathetic to his subject. In this age of easy availability of movies perhaps one could do with fewer pages of stills from the film, thus leaving space for more critical analysis. But on balance it is all still worth acquiring, especially for a good second hand price.