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El Dorado (1967)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, Western | 12 June 1967 (Denmark)
Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Maria
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John Gabriel ...
Pedro
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Luke MacDonald
Robert Rothwell ...
Saul MacDonald
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Storyline

Hired gunman Cole Thornton turns down a job with Bart Jason as it would mean having to fight an old sheriff friend. Some months later he finds out the lawman is on the bottle and a top gunfighter is heading his way to help Jason. Along with young Mississippi, handy with a knife and now armed with a diabolical shotgun, Cole returns to help. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

It's The Big One With The Big Two! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

12 June 1967 (Denmark)  »

Also Known As:

Eldorado  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,653,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$6,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Leigh Brackett wrote the original script which she described as "the best script I had ever done in my life. It wasn't tragic, but it was one of those things where Wayne died at the end." However she says the closer they got to production "the more we got into doing Rio Bravo (1959) over again the sicker I got, because I hate doing things over again. And I kept saying to Howard I did that, and he'd say it was okay, we could do it over again." See more »

Goofs

Joe the piano player is clearly just patting the keyboard, his hand motions in no way matching the music on the soundtrack. See more »

Quotes

Bart Jason: You just going to sit there, Mcleod?
Nelse McLeod: [Facing down Mississippi's sawed-off shotgun] ... Well there really isn't very much I can do right now, is there, Jason?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Possibly due to their fame, the closing cast list does not bill John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Jack the Ripper Goes West (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Hotel Piano No. 1
(uncredited)
Music by Harry Sukman
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Really smart, complex, well acted, and likable...great stuff!!
28 January 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

El Dorado (1966)

A brilliant movie. I hate to use an overused word, or to seem over the top here. But I really thought Howard Hawks created an arguably better version of "Rio Bravo" by doing two key things. One is using two leads who had great mature chemistry together, John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. The other is using James Caan as a more convincing and slightly less frivolous sidekick instead of Ricky Nelson in the earlier version. Many people will disagree and that's fine--my point is this is a terrific and somewhat overlooked film.

Not that the plots of the two are identical, and you might really blame the director/producer for doing a cheap attempt at a hit, without total originality. The fact is, he succeeds so well you don't mind. Everything is first rate. Even the humor as it gets more and more slapstick and out of keeping with the very serious beginnings of the film is so at ease and warm you like and want the companionship to continue. Hawks and his actors create a setting and a situation that is almost homey, against the odds. And this is in an era when the American Western is all but dead (the great Spaghetti Westerns were now coming out).

Critical to the success is the great cinematography by Harold Rosson, who filmed so many classic movies it's hard to know where to start (but start with "The Wizard of Oz" and "Singin' in the Rain"). This is his last film, and he never stops pushing boundaries. There are not only beautiful scenes in the little towns or the shots from the belltower near the end, but some innovative ones.

The big theme here is a common one in Westerns--a group of bad guys with guns is out to take something from a group of good common folk. But the solution is notable, and pushed to a limit. That is, the problem is solved through camaraderie and friendship, through trust. And by joining in the cause even if there is no reward, and even though death is not unlikely. It's a story that is oversimplified, of course, but it feels good. Where some Anthony Mann Westerns and the famous Zinnemann "High Noon" often have evil or selfish or cowardly people all around the protagonist, here there is only a sense that good will prevail, and by persistence and teamwork.

Wayne is at his best here. He's often at his best, I suppose, since he's so consistent, but this shows a strong, smart, wise character that is probably the true Wayne. He's tough and funny and believes in what is right. Period. And I think Hawks knew how to make Wayne look and act his best, and Mitchum seemed to also resonate well. For his part, Mitchum is a terrific derelict sheriff, not overacting, making it reasonable and his character sympathetic. The two have a lot of scenes together and they seem to enjoy themselves without quite breaking into grins on camera.

Finally it should be said that the story line is rich and complex. Yes it follows certain common themes and clichés, but it continually twists them up. The first twenty minutes are a harrowing ride of upturned expectations, and the plot really has its teeth sunk into misunderstandings and mistakes that take on huge ramifications. Well written, well paced dialog, well done.

One weakness in both "El Dorado" and "Rio Bravo" is the lead woman in each case, meant to be a "type" of course but in "El Dorado" coming off as weirdly modern in both sensibility and make-up. I mean cosmetics. Even more glaring is the crazy 1966 hair and eyeliner on a younger woman in the story, who is terrific overall but just seems out of place. You might say the same for Caan, too, but he plays his part with such idiosyncratic verve you accept him as a legitimate oddball.

Why not just see "Rio Bravo" instead, since it carries similar themes, and Hawks and Wayne as well, and has a superior reputation? Go ahead. "Rio Bravo" is a more serious drama, and is terrific. But if you have access to this one (and the streaming Netflix copy is superb), then I'd plunge in. Highly rated, and still underrated.


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