Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
You may not like "Rio Lobo' even if you love the Duke
Cleveland Press January 21, 1971
"Rio Lobo" is playing at local theaters. Western; general audiences. In the cast are John Wayne, Jorge Rivero, Jennifer O'Neill, Jack Elam. Running time: 114 minutes.
"Hold it men. This ain't over yet," intones John Wayne shortly before "Rio Lobo" has drawn to a close. Of course it isn't. The John Wayne Western, as a type, just goes on and on, sometimes with little excuse for existing other than watching the familiar figure go through his familiar routines.
"Rio Lobo" goes on and on at greater length than the others which is surprising. Director Howard Hawks is an old hand at action westerns but "Rio Lobo" looks as though he and everyone else were just going through the motions.
Actually, some of this is pretty funny. Whether by accident or design I don't know, but some of the most conventional of western movie dialog is included and is delivered with a total lack of conviction - or over done conviction. The acting, especially by the, women, is totally flat.
"Rio Lobo" is about a town totally in the grip of one mean, mangy rancher who is systematically forcing out other landowners. The sheriff is his man and the law is in his pocket.
Wayne gallops up on the scene because the mean old rancher turns out to be a fellow Wayne has been wanting to get for some time. With a small amount of help from a couple of others he, cleans up the place in about a day and a half.
Why all this came to be is set up in a long prolog which shows Wayne as a Union officer in the Civil War tracking down some Confederate, soldiers who have stolen a gold shipment
One of them is Jorge Rivero, a Confederate officer with a Mexican accent who claims to be half French. The war ends and Wayne is not sore at Rivero, but a the mysterious Union soldier who provided the Southern forces with inside information. Hence the grudge against the man in the town of Rio Lobo.
"Rio Lobo" is less for the Western movie fan than it for the John Wayne fan and it may put a strain on the latter's loyalty.