One John Wayne Western Heavily Influenced Quentin Tarantino’s Movies

by Emily Morgan
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There’s no doubt that Quentin Tarantino’s films are somewhat different than John Wayne’s westerns. However, one of Wayne’s films was a significant influence on the Hollywood director’s work.

As it turns out, John Wayne’s Western Rio Bravo is one of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite movies. He even looked at the movie when he created his own as an inspiration. Rio Bravo Director Howard Hawks is regarded as one of the great American filmmakers. He spearheaded many classics from His Girl Friday to The Big Sleep and the original 1932 Scarface

Rio Bravo cast John Wayne as Sheriff Chance. Chance has to rely on an alcoholic deputy and a young gunfighter for help to find a dangerous prisoner. When the film debuted in 1959, it was a huge success. It was and is still beloved for its heroes and witty dialogue. It’s considered one of the best Westerns of all time. 

As for Tarantino, the director has spoken about his admiration of the classic western on several occasions. He even famously said, “When I’m getting serious about a girl, I show her Rio Bravo, and she better like it!” 

Hollywood director praises John Wayne flick, style of filming

The Pulp Fiction director also described the film as the ultimate “hang out movie.” This technique refers to characters simply getting to know one another instead of building up a plot.

Rio Bravo, which is available to stream on HBO Max, includes extended scenes where Wayne’s sheriff and the others just talk with one another.

As a result, this style would significantly influence Tarantino’s work. Many of the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood director’s movies follow this “hang out” vibe where viewers spend a lot of time with characters in scenes that don’t necessarily add to the plot.

Examples include Tarantino’s Reservoir DogsJackie Brown, and  The Hateful Eight. They all feature scenes of the protagonists and sometimes the antagonists getting to know each other. While watching, it seems as if the cameras aren’t there. 

Rio Bravo also features short, sharp bursts of violence, also a hallmark of Tarantino’s movies. Just watch Inglorious Basterds to see what I’m talking an example of this. The East Tennessee native has also praised Rio Bravo’s “My Rifle, My Pony, And Me” scene. During the movie, viewers see Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson have a musical duet.

Although some describe it as a distracting way to include a song in a movie led by two major singers, Tarantino loves it because it’s the perfect example of the “hang out” feel. 

While there isn’t really a similar scene in Quentin Tarantino’s work, considering his use of music to set a movie’s tone, it’s easy to see how this Rio Bravo scene would inspire the award-winning director. 

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