John Wayne’s ‘Rio Bravo’ Dynamite Final Shootout Idea Came From Director’s Daughter

Actor John Wayne continues to impress with one of his best Western movies, Rio Bravo. The Howard Hawks film introduces an iconic setting in the American West, recognizable faces, romance, and big action. However, the climactic dynamite sequence at the end of Rio Bravo actually came from Hawks’ daughter, Barbara Hawks McCampbell.

‘Rio Bravo’ stars John Wayne as Sheriff John T. Chance

'Rio Bravo' John Wayne wearing a cowboy uniform carrying a gun with a wagon in the background
John Wayne as Sheriff John T. Chance | Getty Images

Rio Bravo follows a small-town sheriff named John T. Chance (Wayne), who seeks to maintain peace in the American West. However, the fate of the town is up in the air when the wealthy Joe Burdette (Claude Akins) murders a man. Chance arrests him, but his brother, Nathan (John Russell), is willing to put a price on the sheriff’s head to free his sibling.

Dude (Dean Martin) and Stumpy (Walter Brennan) are Chance’s only hope in fending off the dangerous bandits until the U.S. Marshal shows up. Fortunately, a young gunfighter named Colorado Ryan (Ricky Nelson) is willing to join forces to help the small-town sheriff deal with this local bad guy.

The ‘Rio Bravo’ dynamite final shootout was Howard Hawks’ daughter’s idea

According to 1977 Movietone News interview, Hawks talked about the climactic finish. Wayne and his allies corner the antagonists in Rio Bravo, but they take refuge in a house. The sheriff finds some dynamite, which he uses to his advantage to destroy the house until they’re forced to surrender.

Hawks only has a directing credit on Rio Bravo, but he confirmed that he actually also wrote the short story that the film is based on. However, he gave the credit to his daughter, Hawks McCampbell, because she came up with the climactic dynamite finish. However, her credit is abbreviated as B.H. McCampbell.

“I had fun when we wrote Rio Bravo,” Hawks said. “My daughter was getting interested, and she had one good idea about throwing dynamite. I said, ‘Look, I’ll write the story and give you a credit, and it’ll save me money on income tax, and you’ll get enough to buy a new house.’ So she’s listed as the writer.”

The Western is one of the actor’s greatest movies

Rio Bravo is the first of a trilogy connected by theme, also starring Wayne. The other two titles are 1966’s El Dorado and 1970’s Rio Lobo. However, the 1959 original is the one that remains most relevant in the pop culture canon in modern times.

The Wayne filmography has a wide assortment of Western movies under his belt, but Rio Bravo remains one of his best. It remains a genre classic that inspires plenty of “hangout” movies to this day, which allow the audiences to practically become friends with the lead characters.

Rio Bravo currently holds a 98% critics score on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomato-meter and a 90% audience score. The consensus praises the “stellar ensemble cast,” calling it a “towering classic of the Western genre.”

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