Jesse Hamm (sirspamdalot) wrote,
Jesse Hamm
sirspamdalot

Hmmm.

I noticed some odd similarities between these two reviews of the movie Rio Bravo. One is an uncredited & undated review from the TV Guide website, the other is by film professor and critic Emanuel Levy, from his website.

At first I figured Levy may have written the TV Guide review himself, which would explain the similarities, but then I noticed that the two reviews offer differing opinions of the film. (For example, Levy is far more impressed with Angie Dickinson's performance -- not to mention her legs.) Also, Levy's review is much more awkwardly phrased than TV Guide's. Apparently, the reviews were written by two different critics.

So who copied whom? And is there a third source?

Below are the relevant passages, for comparison. The black text is from TV Guide's review, the blue is Levy, and the verbatim similarities are in bold (though there are also many paraphrasic similarities):

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Annoyed that the acclaimed and popular HIGH NOON portrayed a sheriff so afraid of his adversaries that he spends most of the movie asking the townsfolk for help, director Howard Hawks decided to make a filmed response, namely RIO BRAVO.

Disturbed by the acclaimed and popular Western "High Noon," which portrayed Marshall Will Kane (Gary Cooper) so afraid of his adversaries that he spends most of the movie asking town folks for help, only to be rejected by them, Hawks decided to make a movie that will respond more accurately to the dilemma faced by Kane. The result is "Rio Bravo,"...

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A lengthy, leisurely paced film, RIO BRAVO is set in a small Texas border town, Rio Bravo, that is under the control of evil cattle baron Russell and his dim-witted brother, Akins.

...a leisurely-paced Western, set in a small Texas border town named Rio Bravo, which is under the control of evil cattle baron Nathan Burdette (John Russell), and his dim-witted brother Joe (Claude Akins)

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When Akins commits a murder, the sheriff (Wayne), throws him in jail to await the arrival of a US Marshall. Russell lays seige to the jailhouse, and Wayne is forced to rely on the town drunk (Martin), a cranky old cripple (Brennan), and an untested young gunslinger (Nelson) for help.

When Akins commits a murder, sheriff John T. Chance (John Wayne, at his best) throws him into jail to await the arrival of a U.S. Marshall. Later, when Nathan Burdette lays siege to the jailhouse, Chance is forced to rely on the town drunk Dude (Dean Martin), a cranky old man, Stumpy (Walter Brennan), and an untested young gunslinger, Colorado Ryan (Ricky Nelson).

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However, the film has been overrated by some zealous critics, who either ignore its weak points or defend them as praiseworthy oddities.

But for other critics, "Rio Bravo" has been overrated by some zealous auterist critics who tend to underplay the film's weaker points or even defend them as praiseworthy oddities.

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Pop star Ricky Nelson was cast on the basis of his great popularity with teenagers rather than because of any acting talent, ...

To mention just one obvious weakness, the shy, awkward performance by rising pop star Ricky Nelson, who was cast on the basis of his popularity with (female) teenagers rather than acting skill.

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...Nelson simply couldn't act, and Hawks must have known it. The singer is given the fewest lines possible for a third-billed actor, and he is physically restricted to the background or alongside the other leads. He is never given center stage alone--this is no Montgomery Clift (Wayne's costar in RED RIVER).

Hawks was aware of Nelson's acting limitations and accorded him fewer lines, considering that he's one of the central quartet. Nelson is often positioned in the background, alongside the other more prominent thespians; he's seldom positioned center stage by himself.

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Also somewhat weak is Angie Dickinson. While she is given all the right Hawksian dialog and her character is the quintessential Hawks woman, tough enough to stand up to any man who comes her way,

In contrast, the then newcomer starlet Angie Dickinson, as Feathers, is given much of the witty Hawksian dialogue and lavish treatment by camera. Feathers is a quintessentially Hawksian character, tough enough to stand up to any man who comes her way.

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she doesn't possess the spunkiness of a Jean Arthur or the sultriness of a Lauren Bacall.

Though Dickinson may not possess the perkiness of Jean Arthur or the sultriness (superficial) of Lauren Bacall, she's more feminine and appealing than either star, not to mention her shapely legs, which give Marlene Dietrich a run for her money.

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...and Walter Brennan is superb as the grouchy, nasty old man who is undyingly loyal to his friends.

Walter Brennan, with three Supporting Oscars to his credit and a fourth nomination (all in the short period of 5 years), is superb as the grouchy, occasionally nasty old man whose loyalty to his friends comes before anything else

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The real revelation, however, is Dean Martin, in a part he obviously understood well. His role as the drunken deputy who redeems himself is crucial to the film, and the singer-actor handles his part with skill.

However, the real revelation is Dean Martin in a part that he obviously understood well from his real life, playing a drunken deputy who has to rise to the occasion and to redeem himself. As a singer-actor, he handles his part with skill and charm.

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RIO BRAVO was very successful commercially, and Hawks later used two variations of the story (with the same character types, similar situations, sometimes even the same sets) in his last two westerns, EL DORADO and RIO LOBO. All cowritten by Leigh Brackett,

"Rio Bravo" was so successful commercially (it was on 1959's top-grossing films) that Hawks later used two variations of the story, with similar character types, similar situations, and even the same sets, in his last two Westerns, "El Dorado" in 1967 and "Rio Lobo" in 1970, all co-written by Leigh Brackett.

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the films form a sort of informal trilogy, although they become successively weaker.

Many historians (including me) consider the films as some sort of an informal trilogy, though they are divergent in quality and effect; they become successively weaker, a result of the familiarity with the narrative and also Hawks' increasing age and laziness.

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Though Hawks was inspired to make RIO BRAVO as a rebuttal to HIGH NOON, his daughter, Barbara Hawks McCampbell, an aspiring writer, came up with the basic plotline that later became the film's climax--outlaws holed up in a house, while the heroes explode sticks of dynamite by shooting them like clay targets -- and was paid and given screen credit for the story.

Though Hawks was inspired to make "Rio Bravo" as rebuttal to "High Noon," it's his daughter Barbara Hawks McCampbell, an aspiring writer, who came up with the basic plotline that later became the film's climax, outlaws holed up in a house, while the heroes explode sticks of dynamite by shooting them like clay targets. Good father Hawks made sure that Barbara was paid and given credit for story.

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The people in RIO BRAVO have the same kind of deep affection and understanding for one another as do close family members who are not afraid to speak truthfully for fear of hurting each other's feelings, and it is that aspect of the film that is so appealing.

The four members share affection and understanding for one another as do close family members who are not afraid to speak truthfully for fear of hurting each other's feelings.

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Director John Carpenter's second feature, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, is an updated remake of RIO BRAVO.

John Carpenter's second feature, "Assault on Precinct 13," is an updated remake of "Rio Bravo," and Carpenter himself remade his own remake once more.

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P.S. After poking around on the net I found this blog entry, which cites numerous similarities between a Levy review and a review by critic Kirk Honeycutt. We may have our culprit!
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