I continue to study the Western genre. I have now launched a podcast about the making of Western films. Listen here


Rio Diablo is better than it has any right to be. With a cast of Kenny Rogers, Travis Tritt, and Naomi Judd, this should have most likely been a forgettable, cheesy 90s Western but the poster, which prompted this viewing, speaks of a more gritty affair and that’s what makes this TV movie worth a watch.

I confess that I haven’t seen the other Kenny Rogers Westerns but here he delivers a surprisingly good performances. His bounty hunter is a no-nonsense killer with the right combination of charm and darkness. A solid script gives him lines like, “Nobody ever said life was fair. I keep telling myself it was better than the other choice, most of the time anyway,” and the actor handles them with nuance and the weight of experience. Rogers feels like he’s in another movie than Travis Tritt, whose exaggerated acting spoils several of the scenes. The bad guys, however, are well-played but sadly given little screentime. I wish Brion James and Bruce Greenwood had the chance to develop their villains more.

Rob Hardy, who directed a handful of 90s TV Westerns, makes a decent Western that harks back to the traditional films of the 50s with a few modern touches. If it wasn’t for the sometimes terrible musical score, the poorly-written middle act, and the uneven acting, it would live up to those classics.

Watched on Tubi