Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: Jim Jarmusch’s new film, Only Lovers Left Alive, is a great “hang-out movie.” Here are five other pictures that keep company with likable types.
Rio Bravo (1959)
In coining the term “hang-out movie,” Quentin Tarantino claimed that the granddaddy of all such films was Rio Bravo, and with good reason: Howard Hawks’ 1959 classic is a Western that, for all its action, is predicated on the lackadaisical, sitting-around-and-shooting-the-breeze rapport of its four protagonists. Based on a short story by B.H. McCampbell, Hawks’ tale concerns the efforts of small-town Texas sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne) to contend with evil rancher Nathan Burdette (John Russell) after Nathan’s low-down brother Joe (Claude Akins) is arrested for murder and locked up in the local jail. Before long, Nathan’s hired guns are attempting to free Joe by killing Chance and his motley law enforcement crew, which is comprised only of his drunken former deputy Dude (Dean Martin), crotchety old crippled deputy Stumpy (Walter Brennan), and young sharpshooter Colorado (Ricky Nelson), who joins the crew after his former employer—and Chance’s friend—Pat (Ward Bond) is gunned down by one of Nathan’s assassins.
Rio Bravo’s few-against-many scenario is an archetypal one most famously duplicated by John Carpenter in Assault On Precinct 13. Hawks generates consistent suspense from both the unreliability of Dude—whose alcoholism puts everyone in jeopardy—and his narrative’s long, uneventful stretches of waiting for mayhem to erupt. During those tensely inactive periods, the director focuses on Chance’s budding romance with gambler Feathers (Angie Dickinson), as well as the sheriff’s relationship with his male compatriots, all of whom, in one way or another, eventually have to prove their worth to themselves and their comrades. From Dude and Colorado’s quiet duets to Stumpy giving Dude grief over taking a bath, Hawks’ film is rooted in the laid-back, sometimes comical camaraderie of its main characters—a kinship most amusingly epitomized by the sight of Chance kissing Stumpy on the top of the head and, for that display of affection, receiving in return a broomstick smack on the ass.
Availability: Rio Bravo is available on Blu-ray and DVD, which can be obtained from Netflix, and to rent or purchase through the major digital services.