After the Civil War, ex-Confederate soldiers heading for a new life in Mexico run into ex-Union cavalrymen selling horses to the Mexican government but they must join forces to fight off Mexican bandits and revolutionaries.
Texas Ranger Jake Cutter arrests gambler Paul Regret, but soon finds himself teamed with his prisoner in an undercover effort to defeat a band of renegade arms merchants and thieves known as Comancheros.
During the Alaska gold rush, prospector George sends partner Sam to Seattle to bring his fiancée but when it turns out that she married another man, Sam returns with a pretty substitute, the hostess of the Henhouse dance hall.
After the Civil War, ex-Union Colonel John Henry Thomas and ex-Confederate Colonel James Langdon are leading two disparate groups of people through strife-torn Mexico. John Henry and company are bringing horses to the unpopular Mexican government for $35 a head while Langdon is leading a contingent of displaced southerners, who are looking for a new life in Mexico after losing their property to carpetbaggers. The two men are eventually forced to mend their differences in order to fight off both bandits and revolutionaries, as they try to lead their friends and kin to safety. Written by
According to director Andrew V. McLaglen, his first choice for the role of Col. James Langdon was James Arness, who was willing to do it, but backed out just before shooting began. Rock Hudson was brought in as his replacement. John Wayne had never forgiven Arness for failing to turn up for an interview for a part in his film The Alamo (1960). See more »
When Col. Langdon leaves to go ask John Henry to give up his horses to save the Colonel's men, he leaves and the sun is still up. He is shown riding at a full gallop at sunset and arrives at John Henry's camp sometime around daybreak. John Henry and his men take the herd back at a walk and still arrive just before noon, covering the same amount of ground at a walk in less than six hours that the colonel traveled all night to cover. See more »
[after being served a scoop of beans, picking at something with spoon]
There's somethin' crawlin' in these beans!
Well, you can speak to it but don't play with it... or else the others'll want one in their beans too!
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The late, great British film critic Leslie Halliwell’s verdict on Howard Hawks’ EL DORADO (1966) – “Easy going, semi-somnolent, generally likable but disappointing Western…an old man’s movie all around” – is a bit harsh in my view but it does rather aptly describe John Wayne’s films from DONOVAN’S REEF (1963) onwards – with a couple of obvious exceptions. This, then, is one from that professionally made, solidly entertaining and unassuming bunch; despite having been shown on TV several times over the years, it is not one that I had been familiar with prior to this viewing.
The third of five films the Duke would make with director Andrew V.McLaglen, it is not the best but not the worst either: actually, it has a surprisingly good premise – in post Civil War days, a band of Northerners (led by Wayne, naturally) take to rustling horses and selling them to the highest bidder; when that happens to be Emperor Maximilian of Mexico, they take a hard ride down Mexico way which pits them against several odds: the U.S. and the rebel Juaristas-aiding French armies (who both want to take possession of their herd), as well as a proud group of Confederates (led by a somewhat uncomfortable Rock Hudson) who have been promised shelter from Maximilian himself. During the course of the journey, tensions and friendships flare up as Wayne’s adopted Native American son falls for Hudson’s daughter and both parties engage in a free-for-all drunken fistfight (a pre-requisite John Wayne movie ingredient, especially at this stage in his career) to celebrate the 4th of July. However, when Hudson and his men reach Maximilian territory, they are abducted by the Juaristas who demand the exchange of Wayne’s horses for the Southerners’ lives. Will they comply?
The immediate post-Civil War backdrop provides James Lee Barrett’s script with something to say about tolerance and patriotism; the rugged, larger-than-life action is set in sprawling locations (Louisiana and Durango, Mexico) expertly lighted by frequent Wayne cinematographer William H. Clothier and set to an appropriately grandiose Hugo Montenegro score. The film (running a longish 118 minutes) loses some momentum in the second half and the romantic/youthful interest here is a particular liability – but this is countered by some good quips, delivered in Wayne’s typically dry fashion (especially his classic excuse to shooting a bandit he was supposed to just have a talk with: “The conversation kinda dried up, ma’am”)!
Of course, it would not be a John Wayne movie if it did not have the benefit of a number of reliable character actors featured in the cast and here we have a pretty colorful one, too: Ben Johnson, Bruce Cabot, Harry Carey Jr., Paul Fix, Royal Dano, John Agar, Dub Taylor and Pedro Armendariz Jr; prominent supporting roles are also offered to a very young Jan-Michael Vincent and two professional American football stars, Roman Gabriel and Merlin Olsen. Interestingly enough, Hudson’s role was originally intended for another of Wayne’s stock company of character actors, James Arness; again, Wayne was injured during the making of the film (forcing the director to shoot him from a limited number of angles) but he, ahem, soldiered on because he felt he owed his fans a good show!
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