Learned today from David Bordwell's blog that film critic Robin Wood has died. My only tenuous link to Wood was to snipe at him impotently when I wrote about David Cronenberg for Film Comment. Bordwell honors him as a friend and a major influence on his own work, and includes a resonant quotation from an essay on Rio Bravo:
"Hawks, like Shakespeare, is an artist earning his living in a popular, commercialized medium, producing work for the most diverse audiences in a wide variety of genres. Those who complain that he 'compromises' by including 'comic relief' and songs in Rio Bravo call to mind the eighteenth century critics who saw Shakespeare’s clowns as mere vulgar irrelevancies stuck in to please the 'ignorant' masses. Had they been contemporaries of the first Elizabeth, they would doubtless have preferred Sir Philip Sydney (analogous evaluations are made quarterly in Sight and Sound). Hawks, like Shakespeare, uses his clowns and his songs for fundamentally serious purposes, integrating them in the thematic structure. His acceptance of the underlying conventions gives Rio Bravo, like Shakespeare’s plays, the timeless, universal quality of myth or fable."