Rio Lobo is the sort of western that John Wayne and producer-director Howard Hawks do in their sleep. But by no stretch of nostalgia does it match such previous Wayne-Hawks epics as Red River or Rio Bravo.
Leigh Brackett and Burton Wohl’s script, based on Wohl’s story, is by the numbers. In the Civil War, Wayne is a Union colonel – an ex-Texas Ranger, of course – who keeps losing army gold shipments to Confederate guerrillas led by Jorge Rivero and Chris Mitchum. He captures them, but they won’t tell him who the traitors are who have been tipping them off about the gold.
From than on it is the same plot that has been worked over since the silent days of Bronco Billy with no new surprises.
Hawks’ direction is as listless as the plot.