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Good but we've seen it all before,...
MartinHafer28 January 2006
I really enjoyed this movie. It's one of Wayne's better films and it's nice to see him paired with Robert Mitchum. However, it very quickly became obvious to me that this is essentially a remake of Wayne's earlier picture, Rio Bravo. The plot is the same and Mitchum is playing the same drunk character that Dean Martin played in Rio Bravo. The earlier film is much better--mostly because it was so much more original. Yes, I'm sure some astute viewers will also find a few other minor differences between the films, but overall it's almost the exact same experience. So my advice is try to see Rio Bravo first--then, if you'd like, see this film. After all, in 4 out of 5 cases original films are better than remakes.
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Elegiac masterwork
TheLittleSongbird6 February 2011
El Dorado is a wonderful film. It is elegiac, always entertaining, skillful and I think warm-hearted too. The film looks beautiful, the cinematography and scenery are both a delight to the ears. Nelson Riddle's score is pleasant too, while the film is brilliantly directed by Howard Hawks, the script is thoughtful and entertaining, the story never loses momentum and the pace while deliberately elegiac is spot on. There is also a superbly staged preface, which is one of the assets that gave El Dorado its heart. The acting from the leads is superb, John Wayne is a great charismatic presence here and Robert Mitchum gives one of his best performances, and they work very well together. All in all, a wonderful film and a textbook example of a fine movie of its genre. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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"Ride Baldy Ride, to the end of the rainbow."
bkoganbing5 February 2006
Unless you count their joint appearance in The Longest Day, El Dorado deserves its place in Hollywood history for being the only co-starring effort of John Wayne and Robert Mitchum.

Besides being good friends Wayne and Mitchum were both known for being able to drink just about anyone else in the film business under the table and still report to work in the morning, lines letter perfect. But Mitchum was not allowed in the Wayne home because Pilar Wayne never forgave him for ruining their honeymoon when Mitchum backed out of Blood Alley and Wayne had to star as well as produce it.

I also think that the Duke was leery about Mitchum stealing too many scenes which he does when they are on the screen together. In this tighter and faster remake of Rio Bravo, Wayne is his usual stand up hero, rough and tough, but who lives by a code. Mitchum is the flawed one. During an interlude of several months in the film, Mitchum becomes enamored of an unseen woman, loses her, and becomes a drunk.

Which leads me to one of the funniest scenes ever in a Wayne film. When Christopher George and fellow gunmen are hired by villain Ed Asner to run R.G. Armstrong and his family off their ranch, Wayne has to sober up Sheriff Mitchum and fast.

Every time I watch El Dorado, I get hysterical every time I watch James Caan pour a homemade remedy down Mitchum's throat with Wayne and Arthur Hunnicutt holding him down. And the reactions afterwards, absolutely priceless. This is where Mitchum steals the movie.

As in many a Howard Hawks film, there is a theme of professionalism that runs through it. Whether it's Cary Grant and his fellow pilots flying over treacherous terrain in South America, Humphrey Bogart with his charter boat business in the Caribbean, or Wayne and Mitchum going up against fellow professional Christopher George, it's doing the job and doing it well for it's own reward.

The final gunfight is also a classic. Let's just say that Mitchum and Wayne are not at their best, but they make up for it with some help from interested friends.

This is one of the best films, in the top 10 for both these guys and shouldn't be missed.
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Strong pairing
Leofwine_draca22 September 2019
Warning: Spoilers
EL DORADO is another strong pairing for director Howard Hawks and star John Wayne, and possibly my favourite western that they made together. This one has an easygoing feel, a likeable storyline and a great performance from Wayne, possibly at his most iconic. The fact that he suffers from physical disability here gives his character a kind of warmth and fragility that you don't normally see from the impassive action man. The supporting cast is particularly excellent, with impeccable turns from an up-and-coming James Caan as Mississippi and old-timer Robert Mitchum as the drunk sheriff. Christopher George is also particularly good as one of the villains; a great make-up job there. The narrative moves along at a good clip, ably mixing suspense, shoot-outs and dialogue, all of which don't disappoint.
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Well done John Wayne western
SnoopyStyle6 September 2013
Gunman Cole Thornton (John Wayne) turns down a job with rancher Bart Jason (Ed Asner), who is trying to steal water from his neighbor, when he finds he must fight an old friend Sheriff J.P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum). Later, he returns to town with youngster Mississippi (James Caan) and finds J.P. in a drunken state. Together they must fight off Bart's hired hands.

Howard Hawks directed this traditional western with John Wayne doing his best John Wayne impression. It is a little too long at over 2 hours. But it is still a great western. It's great to see a young James Caan and John Wayne is right at home.
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More Rio Bravo
Prismark1023 December 2017
Howard Hawks basically remakes Rio Bravo and invites John Wayne to the party again. Wayne is the veteran professional gunman, Cole Thornton who turns down a rich rancher as the drunken sheriff in town, Robert Mitchum is an old buddy who has taken to drink.

When the rich rancher hires another gunman, Cole, Sheriff Harrah, his deputy and hot headed young cardsharp, Mississippi (James Caan) band together to stop the wealthy rancher bullying the poor ranchers over the water rights. However they might not be a match to the rich rancher's posse. The rancher having been jailed by the Sheriff, his men are out to spring him.

Mitchum is a drunk, his deputy is too old, Mississippi is to inexperienced and volatile, Cole has a bullet lodged near his spine.

The film is not as good as Rio Bravo although this is slightly shorter and in some ways the casting is better. Caan is a better actor than Ricky Nelson for example.

Hawks does place an in joke against the rising new wave of French cinema where the Sheriff shoots a piano and not the piano player. However the film is hokey and looks old fashioned given it was made in 1967 and movies like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid hovering ahead.
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A remake that improves in some cases on Rio Bravo, but feels like a straight (or lesser) copy in others – still a great film though
bob the moo3 August 2003
Hired gun hand Cole Thornton backs out of a job with rancher Bart Jason when he learns the real story behind his attempts to drive a family off their land. His rejection of the job lands him in a situation where he joins with a young man and backs up the town's drunken sheriff. When the sheriff arrests Jason and locks him in the town jail it sparks a stand-off between them inside and Jason's hired guns outside.

When I read the plot summary for this film I immediately wondered why Wayne had remade Rio Bravo but wanted to watch it anyway. For the first hour the film's relaxed pace is a bit too relaxed and was a little dull at times. In the second hour the film gets much better as it reaches the part that bears the greatest resemblance to Rio Bravo (right down to whole scenes being lifted and dialogue paraphrased). Once in the town the stand off begins and the film goes up a notch. It still keeps a relaxed air to it but the tension can be turned on easily and suddenly.

In terms of plotting, the film doesn't add to much to that of Rio Bravo with the exception of differences that come with characters. Even in regards characters the basics are the same – old gunfighter, drunken sheriff, kid, old man. However these characters are a little stronger and different to those in Rio Bravo. Thornton is a strong character and recognises the age of the man in the film, he is crippled a little and having to fight though it. Wayne brings this out well although his relaxed air sort of makes it feel like he doesn't have to work hard to deliver the character. Caan's Mississippi is much better than the kid in Rio Bravo and he is much more enjoyable to watch. Hunnicutt is also good fun as comic relief of sorts. The only character which is noticeably weaker is that of Mitchum's sheriff. His drunk is less vulnerable than Dean Martin's and his transformation less involving. Mitchum has little to do compared to Wayne and Caan so in fairness he has little time to do the same as Martin did.

At times it is hard to judge the film fairly having seen Rio Bravo – for example when whole scenes are copied across with minor changes it is hard to forget that this is a remake. But viewed on it's own this is a great film. Viewed alongside the original it is still a very good film which has improved on RB in several ways whilst is only weaker in a few. My advice would be to see them both as they both deserve to be remembered as classic westerns.
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"Ride, boldly ride, till you find El Dorado..."
classicsoncall7 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The comparisons to "Rio Bravo" are unmistakable and if you've seen that picture further words aren't necessary. What I had to constantly keep reminding myself throughout the story was that Robert Mitchum was the drunk sheriff and not Dean Martin. Or as John Wayne's character Cole Thornton would remark - "I'm lookin' at a tin star with a drunk pinned on it".

After watching about sixty of John Wayne's films over the years and catching this one earlier today, it struck me that his performance here was about the most natural in any of the ones I've seen. In other words, he didn't even seem to be acting most of the time, just carrying on with buddies Mitchum, James Caan and old-timer Arthur Hunnicutt who probably had the best lines of banter throughout going back and forth with Cole and J.P. Harrah (Mitchum). I know, Wayne detractors will say he wasn't acting in any of his pictures, but I think that would be a disservice to the Duke.

So as a big time TV and Western movie fan, I thought it was pretty cool that the film makers had two thirds of the 'Rifleman' regular cast show up here. Paul Fix had the role of old Doc Miller and Johnny Crawford showed up long enough to get shot by Cole Thornton in an early scene. Wouldn't it have been cool if Chuck Connors had a role in this one? Instead, we have almost one-armed John Wayne twirling his rifle like Lucas McCain did on his own show.

As for James Caan, I don't know, he seemed to be out of place here a couple of times, especially when he took off the hat. Joey MacDonald (Michele Carey) liked him better with it off, but to me he looked a little goofy with his hair plastered down like that. His Chinese impression was a bit embarrassing too, and I don't mean that in a politically correct way. It was just plain old embarrassing.

But overall, a decent Western and if you're a fan of the principles, you'll have to add this one to your watch list. For trivia fans, John Wayne rides an appaloosa in the picture, going by the name of Cochise. I thought that was pretty cool.
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Not the Best Work From John Wayne or Howard Hawks
gavin69429 January 2011
While I am not particularly a fan of westerns, I gave this one a shot because I like Howard Hawks and John Wayne is pretty much the greatest western actor of his generation. I must say that while it was okay, it did not meet my hopes.

James Caan does not seem to me to get the full force he needs. The film is a bit slow up until the shootout in the church, and even then it is very "old school" because you can get shot without bullet holes or blood. The continuity is also questionable, as Caan's character switches his crutch repeatedly.

I have heard this film is an unofficial remake of "Rio Bravo", but I have not seen that one and cannot say. However, I will give it points for including the Edgar Allan Poe poem, even if that is probably an anachronism.
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A Pleasant Surprise
ccthemovieman-124 October 2006
This was a pretty solid western, one I enjoyed more than I thought I would. What I liked about it were the interesting characters and the fact it was nicely filmed, as westerns tend to be. People focus on the big stars of this film and often miss how good the visuals are in here.

John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and James Caan all played characters that were fun to watch. When I first saw this about 10 years ago, it was a shock to see how young Caan looked. It had to be one of his first films. Six years after this, he made it big in "The Godfather."

Wayne and Mitchum, of course, were already major motion picture celebrities and I liked the way they traded off each other in this movie. It was really good to see these two guys in the same film. With those two, and the nice photography, this would be a good pickup on DVD.
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Three Fast Gunmen.
rmax30482314 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
The director, Howard Hawks, was always irritated when he was asked if this was a remake of his earlier, highly successful "Rio Bravo." He'd point out differences in the details. If, in "Rio Bravo," it was the deputy who was a drunk, this time it's the sheriff who's the drunk. If Hawks actually believed this, he was in -- how you say? -- in denial.

It's pretty much a remake and, though it's not as cheerful and engaging and funny as the original, it's still pretty engaging and funny. The gags are a little different. They would be, because Hawks encouraged improvisation from his actors or other crew members. As an example, at the end, both Robert Mitchum and John Wayne have been crippled by gun shot wounds and each must hobble around on a crutch. Mitchum kept forgetting which arm to put his crutch under, switching it from one arm to the other, and when people began ribbing him about it, Hawks decided to work the joke into the script.

Like "Rio Bravo", the story has a bad guy (Edward Asner) captured and put into the town jail while the town waits for the irregular visit of the U. S. Marshall. The sheriff (Mitchum) and his deputies (Wayne, Arthur Hunnicut, and James Caan) hole up in the jail, assisted by one or two girl friends. Wayne is captured and the Asner is released. A final shoot out resolves all problems.

It's imaginatively executed. There is a shot, most unusual for Hawks, in which a villain's dead body drops from a bell tower directly down onto the camera. The conversational contretemps, while not up to Hawks' best, are still pretty amusing. Hunnicutt complains to Mitchum: "The first time I wanted to do nuthin' for ye and ye don't want me to do it." Mitchum looks at Wayne and asks, "Is there something wrong with that or am I still hung over?" It sounds as if Hunnicutt fumbled the line and Hawks incorporated it into the script. Here, as elsewhere, Hawks took advantage of the opportunity to stick current, future, and hoped-for female companions into the story. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. Here, it didn't. By the way, the bartender, the guy who winds up with a palm full of splinters, is Mitchum's brother John.

Still, it's not "Rio Bravo." For one thing, the score by Nelson Riddle lacks Dmitri Tiompkin's pompous CLANGS and BLATTS, almost self parodies. For another, it's a bit more serious than "Rio Bravo." When somebody gets hurt or shot here, he really gets hurt or shot -- not to mention bashed in the face by a rifle butt. Wayne suffers from a periodic paralysis of his side, the result of Michelle Carey's bullet through the retroperitoneal sac. One wonders if Hawks was coming to terms with old age -- whatever "coming to terms with" means in that context. James Caan quotes from the poem, "El Dorado", by Edgar Allan Poe -- "And when his strength failed him at length, he met a pilgrim shadow." It's a much darker film than "Rio Bravo", and not just because of the violence and infirmity. Much of the story takes place at night. Sometimes it's almost too dark to see who's who. And the cast doesn't seem to be having quite as much fun. The climactic conflict of "Rio Bravo" has everyone out in blazing sunshine, throwing dynamite at the villains and wisecracking with one another. There's nothing to laugh at in this shoot out.

All of that is to say that, while "Rio Bravo" is the better of the two films, this one is nothing to be sneezed at. If the earlier film hadn't come so near perfection for its type, "El Dorado" would have been hailed as a Hawks triumph. As it is, it's pretty good.
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Outstanding Western gathers together a gunman , a drunk sheriff , a young hopeful , an old man and sets them up in a jail
ma-cortes2 September 2012
Involving and fascinating Western in which John Wayne helped by a motley group taking on a corrupt land baron . It is filled with crisp action , thrills , emotion , humor and masterfully directed by Howard Hawks , being a take-off based on ¨Rio Bravo¨ . It deals with Cole Thornton (John Wayne) , a gunslinger for hire who suffers badly from age and gun wound , he joins forces with an old friend , Sheriff J.P. Hara (Robert Mitchum) in a dusty little town . Together with an old Indian fighter and a gambler , they help a rancher (R.G. Armstrong) and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water . But the Duke and drunken sheriff Mitchum take prisoner the cattle baron (Eward Ashner) and imprison him into jail for being brought to justice . Then the enemies take on a blockade of gunfighters surrounding the prison. Duke along with a shotgun-toting old loony (the scene-stealing Arthur Hunnicutt as a half-crazed sympathetic old man with a trumpet and in similar role to Walter Brennan) are besieged and only helped by the hot-head young named Missisipi (James Caan) whose finger itches demoniacally on the trigger every time he gets a nasty guy in his sights . All of them fighting for their lives against the baron land and his hired killers (Christopher George , Jim Davis)

Action western, snappy dialog , shoot-outs at regular intervals, and humor abounds in this magnificent film whose roles are splendidly portrayed . It packs larger-than-life characters, uproarious events and lively happenings . It is an elegy on lost youth assuaged by friendship and comradeship among them . The Duke carries strong acting on his brawny shoulders and perfectly does , though most of the scenes showing John Wayne running were performed by a double . It's basically a lighthearted action Western and being mainly lifted out by Robert Mitchum 's wonderfully acting , his bathtub scene was largely Robert's invention, members of the crew were laughing while it was being filmed at the idea of Mitchum being embarrassed in front of a woman . Delightful main and support cast formed by several youthful costars as James Caan , Charlotte Holt and Michelle Carey ; adding brief interventions from Adam Roarke , Johnny Crawford , Robert Donner and Paul Fix . And of course, top-drawer John Wayne , few stars could match his ability to dominate a scene . Arch-conservative John Wayne did not get along with actor Edward Asner, whose politics were quite liberal, during filming, and constantly referred to Asner as "that New York actor". Wayne was disappointed that the movie was released at the same time as his next movie, ¨The War Wagon¨ ; however, despite this film receiving generally poor reviews and being seen as old-fashioned and out of tune with the times, both movies proved to be hugely successful at the box office. Glittering Technicolor cinematography by Harold Rosson who adds much to the setting of this unique Western , the scenes of the town during daytime were filmed on location in Kanab, Utah and Old Tucson, Arizona , but all the nighttime scenes were filmed in the studio. Marvelous musical score by Nelson Riddle (Batman TV theme) including emotive song at main titles . These opening credits feature a montage of original paintings that depict various scenes of cowboy life in the Old West, the artist was Olaf Wieghorst who appears in the film as the Gunsmith . This overlong, too much-acclaimed and very gripping Western will appeal to John Wayne fans . Rating : Above average, essential and indispensable Western , a masterpiece horse opera whose reputation has improved over the years . The motion picture is well directed Howard Hawks supported by John Wayne , it's a nice Western made by these two giants . Hawks proved to be a Western expert as proved in ¨Big sky¨, ¨The outlaw¨ and ¨Red River ¨.

Rating : Good and great fun , though over lengthy and displays a number of similarities to previous ¨Rio Bravo¨ , quintaessential Hawks Western at the peak of his powers , starred by Wayne , Mitchum , Walter Brennan , Ricky Nelson and Angie Dickinson . ¨El Dorado¨ is more or less a remake of Rio Bravo, although Howard Hawks always denied this. Followed by a second reworking titled ¨Rio Lobo¨ with Wayne , George Rivero ,Jennifer O'Neill , Sherry Lansing ,Chris Mitchum , Victor French and Jack Elam playing a virtual retreat of the previous role played by Walter Brennan and Arthur Hunnicut and of course the great John Wayne who repeats in the excellent trilogy , an exciting , witty and deeply moving masterpiece .
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"Rio Bravo" on the geriatric end, but with the expected western pleasures...
moonspinner551 June 2008
It may be 1967, but director Howard Hawks and screenwriter Leigh Brackett, working from Harry Brown's book "The Stars in Their Courses", turn back the clock with this leisurely-paced variation on 1959's "Rio Bravo". John Wayne stars as a hired gunslinger with a big heart (it's pretty much the same role he had the last time), while Robert Mitchum stands in for Dean Martin as the besotted sheriff. Charlene Holt takes over the proverbial love-interest part formerly filled by Angie Dickinson, and James Caan substitutes (quite well) for Ricky Nelson as the young greenhorn. It's acceptable fare, but not exceptional; the joshing and fisticuffs are rousing, but the shootouts aren't choreographed well and the romantic asides bubble under the main action. Hawks is hardly reticent in regards to introducing these new relationships, and much of the film is made up of camaraderie. That seems to suit the Duke just fine, as he looks more comfortable alongside Mitchum and Caan than with Martin and Nelson (though he is seven years older here and obviously not as energetic). This production, most of which was filmed in the studio, looks just like a western from the previous decade, with only the wear and tear of the main players to remind us we've moved on but that Hawks and Wayne have not. **1/2 from ****
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Big heavyweight movie all round.
hitchcockthelegend4 February 2010
Directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne & Robert Mitchum, it's safe to say that El Dorado comes with some pretty tough credentials. Thankfully the expectation that comes with such a teaming is well and truly met. The plot is a familiar one in the context of Wayne & Hawks, if you have seen Rio Bravo? And liked it? The chances are you will like this one too.

Wayne is Cole Thornton, a hired gun who is asked to come on the payroll of El Dorado landowner Bart Jason (Ed Asner), who is involved with a land struggle with the MacDonald family. Cole finds his old friend J.P. Harrah (Mitchum) is sheriff of the town, and J.P. advises his old pal that any involvement with Jason will result in J.P. enforcing the law. As it transpires, circumstances between the MacDonald's and Cole lead to Cole taking arms against Jason and his thug followers. So the sheriff, an old Indian fighter called Bull Harris (Arthur Hunnicutt) & a young gambler, who's handy with a knife, called Alan Bourdillion 'Mississippi' Traherne (James Caan) aim to bring down the might of Jason together.

Adapted from the book The Stars in Their Courses by Harry Brown, this was the second to last film that Howard Hawks would direct. Coming as it did in the late 60s it appears to be somewhat undervalued on the great director's CV. Probably due in no small part to the regard that Rio Bravo is held, of which this is pretty much a remake of. Yet, and I whisper it quietly, El Dorado is arguably the better film in terms of performances and the telling of Hawksian themes.

Given that Wayne & Mitchum were good friends away from the screen, it's no great surprise to find the chemistry between them is top dollar. They feed of each others' machismo to deliver a tough picture, yet one that's still joyously fun. The end result is a pic that manages to deftly portray many themes, that of loyalty, togetherness, forgiveness, respect and professionalism. The two principal stars are aided by both Caan and Hunnicutt, who offer a notable young & old side of the mythical West, with age, and ageing, a prominent point of note played out by the knowing director.

El Dorado looks to be a film where all involved are comfortable in what they are making. Nothing feels forced or hindered by pointless filler. It's true that the film is more in favour of dialogue over bravado action, though what action there is is adroitly handled by the old hands and the youthful Caan with his sawn off shotgun. This is a story without gimmicks, one which isn't ambling along as an excuse for a shoot out come the end. There's a lot to be said for good old fashioned story telling, and we get that here. Intelligence and sincerity throughout, and it's damn funny to boot, El Dorado is a fine movie that holds up very well in each and every decade that passes. 8/10
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Ride, boldly ride. A bugle-tooting good time.
Hey_Sweden16 November 2016
This slam-bang Western is truly a very fine diversion, with filmmaker Howard Hawks at the top of his game. Hawks works from an engaging screenplay by Leigh Brackett, who (loosely) adapted the Harry Brown novel "The Stars in Their Courses", and gets excellent performances out of just about everybody. It gets serious, but never too serious, and is generously laced with comedy. The fact that this was a big box office success showed that audiences still had an appetite for what could be seen as "old-fashioned" entertainment.

The Duke plays Cole Thornton, an aging gunslinger approached by nefarious rancher Bart Jason (Ed Asner) to work for him. Thornton turns the job down when he realizes that he'll have to go up against old friend J.P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum), the sheriff of the nearby town. Circumstances leave Thornton feeling indebted to the MacDonald family, the peaceable folk whose ranch is targeted by Jason. So he joins their cause, and is soon working alongside a young gambler named Mississippi (James Caan), who likes to use knives because he really isn't good with a gun.

The Duke and Mitchum are a believable pair of friends, and together with a baby faced Caan (a few years away from scoring big as Sonny in "The Godfather") and a steadfast Arthur Hunnicutt as Bull, they all make a good team. The cast is full of good actors, with Christopher George a pleasure to watch as a smooth, confident hired gun. R.G. Armstrong, Paul Fix, Robert Donner, Johnny Crawford, and Adam Roarke all put in appearances as well, and the lovely ladies present also have good roles with which to work: Charlene Holt as Maudie, and feisty Michele Carey as "Joey" MacDonald, one of Armstrongs' kids. Olaf Wieghorst, who plays gunsmith Swede Larsen, did the beautiful paintings for the credit sequence.

First rate photography combines with enjoyable atmosphere, some fun lines of dialogue, and plenty of Western violence in the "clutch yourself and fall down" tradition, which all help to make this a wonderful viewing experience. Nice music score by Nelson Riddle, too.

There is a scene where Mississippi pretends to be a Chinaman in order to confuse a henchman, and people could easily see it as being racist. It has often been cut out of TV showings of the film.

Essentially a reworking of Hawks' earlier "Rio Bravo", although Hawks himself would always deny this.

9 out of 10.
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Wayne at His Best…Mitchum Even Better…Caan is Also Very Good
LeonLouisRicci29 August 2015
By 1966 both John Wayne and Howard Hawks seemed to Dial Their Prospective Macho Personas Down a Notch and both are the Better for it. This Film is one of the Best for both the Actor and Director.

Hawks and Wayne are more Natural here. The Director was always Striving for Realism but Rarely Attained and Strained most of the Time. His Trademark Overlapping Dialog Never seemed Real, Just a Filmmaker Pretentiously and Painfully Trying to be Real.

In This Movie the Duke's Dialog Delivery is a Bit more Low Key and He Doesn't Project as much as Usual and the Words come out more Natural and Believable. Ditto for the Action Scenes.

Robert Mitchum is Excellent and is the Best Actor on the set. He Dominates every Scene He is In and this is one of His Best Later Day Performances. The Ensemble Cast Work Well together with relative Newcomer James Caan managing to Hold His Own among the Two Towering Stars.

The Supporting Players also Contribute to make this a much Better Film than the Stiff and Stagey "Rio Bravo" (1959). The Violence is at Times Brutal and the Cinematography is Wider and more Sumptuous than Bravo.

Overall, with the help of a Great Sidekick Arthur Hunnicutt Providing the Levity and a Couple of Strong Female Characters, this is one of the Best Films for Hawks, Wayne, and Mitchum and really does Overshadow its Overrated Brother "Rio Bravo".
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Plenty of twists, turns and chemistry.
CinemaSerf18 December 2019
Definitely one of Howard Hawks' better collaborations with John Wayne. A reasonably strong story about a rancher and his family trying to defy an avaricious and violent Ed Asner who is trying to take over everything he can. There are similarities with "Rio Bravo" but I think here there is more tangible chemistry between Wayne and Robert Mitchum as the washed up drunk of a sheriff. James Caan brings some cheeky charm to his role as "Mississippi" and Arthur Hunnicutt takes on the reliable, foil role usually played by Walter Brennan well. As ever with these films, the leading ladies have virtually nothing to work with and this, for Charlene Holt, is no exception.
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"Faith can move mountains, Milt, but it can't beat a faster draw."
utgard1412 November 2014
Aging gunfighter (John Wayne), drunken sheriff (Robert Mitchum), cantankerous old deputy(Arthur Hunnicutt), and a knife-throwing gambler (James Caan) team up to protect a rancher and his family from hired gunmen. Contrary to what some say about this movie, it's not a remake. It borrows a lot from Rio Bravo but there are a lot of differences, too. Wayne and Mitchum are great. Really good cast backing them up. Arthur Hunnicutt is lots of fun. James Caan has a nice rapport with Duke. Charlene Holt and Michele Carey are the sexy and tough Hawksian women. Christopher George and Ed Asner play the heavies. A good western with likable actors, nice direction, and a fun script.
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I'm lookin' at a tin star with a... drunk pinned on it.
lastliberal22 May 2007
The John Wayne marathon continues with another of the Top Twelve John Wayne films. This one with John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and James Caan - three of the biggest names in movies. Directed by Howard Hawks, who directed one of my all-time favorite war movies - Sergeant York.

While The Duke is helping his friend Mitchum, with the help of Mississippi (Caan) in the middle of a range war, the laughs are coming fast and furious. Of course, there is also Charlene Holt and Michele Carey to provide the love interests for Wayne and Caan

Again, this is one of the best John Wayne films and well worth your time.
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Howard Hawks' "El Dorado" Is Pure Gold!
zardoz-1316 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"Red River" director Howard Hawks' "El Dorado" qualifies as a leisurely, old-fashioned oater that conjures up more hilarity with its frequent comic interludes than its serious moments. Mind you, this 1967 John Wayne & Robert Mitchum western possesses a couple of unsavory moments, principally when men brandish their six-guns and blast away at each other without a qualm, but the violence here is nothing compared to the vicious Spaghetti westerns made in Europe during the late 1960s. Anybody who enjoys Hawks' westerns should not be surprised that Hawks and scenarist Leigh Brackett dusted off the plot to "Rio Bravo" and essentially recycled scenes and characters.

Hawks cast Robert Mitchum as the drunken that Dean Martin had played in "Rio Bravo." Arthur Hunnicutt takes over for Walter Brennan, while James Caan substitutes for Ricky Nelson in a different role. Hawks changed Caan's supporting role from Nelson's accurate shooting gunslinger to the worst shot on the frontier. As in "Rio Bravo," the heroes hole up in a jail with a prisoner and await the arrival of the territorial lawman while the villain's henchmen keep them bottled up in town. This time, however, John Wayne plays a drifting gunfighter with an Achilles heel, while Mitchum wears the sheriff's badge. Hawks and Brackett whittled down the female participation to an older woman, Charlene Holt, who walks in from time to time, but never intrudes on the action like Angie Dickinson did in "Rio Bravo." Meanwhile, a young slip of a girl, cute Michele Carey, has a somewhat bigger part as a hot-headed babe who wounds our hero. Nevertheless, "El Dorado" is an immensely likable western with clever dialogue, interesting characters, and funny jokes. Attention deficient audiences may complain this 126 minute melodrama drags and sags when it should raise hell and holler.

Hawks and Brackett provide the ground work for the plot in the opening scene when Sheriff J.P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum of "Cape Fear") confronts Cole Thornton (John Wayne of "Hatari") in the washroom of a local saloon. Cole has come to El Dorado to hire his gun out to ranch owner Bart Jason (Edward Asner of "The Satan Bug"), but Harrah dissuades him from taking the job. Harrah explains that Jason is a greedy rancher who wants to expand his spread, but he needs water. Incidentally, the Bart Jason character resembles Hawks' "Rio Lobo" villain Ketchum in that Jason showed up in El Dorado with a lot of money when everybody else in Texas was dead broke. Harrah elaborates that Jason wants to run the cattle rancher Kevin MacDonald (R. G. Armstrong of "Ride the High Country") out of the country because he cannot force MacDonald to sell out to him. Cole decides to accommodate Harrah and pull out. He rides out to Jason's ranch and refuses to hire out to him. Meantime, Doc Miller (Paul Fix) has sent warning out to MacDonald that Cole Thornton is on Jason's payroll. MacDonald and his men scatter and he leaves his youngest son Luke (Johnny Crawford of "The Rifleman") to serve as a look-out and fire in the air if he should see Thornton.

After Cole leaves Jason's ranch, he rides toward the role where Luke is sleeping. A startled Luke leaps up and fires at Cole rather than shooting in the air. Without a second thought, Cole plugs Luke. Luke commits suicide because he has been gut shot and feels that he cannot survive such a painful wound. Cole takes Luke's body to the MacDonald ranch. Joey MacDonald (Michele Carey of "Dirty Dingus Magee") vows to kill Cole. She lays in ambush and wounds him. Doc Miller refuses to extract the slug because it lies too close to Cole's spine and he fears that he would do more damage. He advises Cole to find "one of them new-fangled squirts" to remove it, "but don't wait too long to do it." Cole rides off to the border for a job and winds up in a border town where he runs into scar-faced killer Nelse McLeod (Christopher George of "The Rat Patrol") and his gunmen. McLeod and his gunmen are heading for El Dorado to take the same job with Bart Jason that Cole turned down. Another young drifter, Alan Bourdillon Traherne (James Caan of "Redline 7000") enter the cantina, picks a fight with a McLeod gunman, and kills him with a knife in a draw.

After Cole prevents Trehearne, whose nicknamed 'Mississippi,' from walking into an ambush by McLeod's vengeful gunmen, the younger man becomes his sidekick. Cole advises Mississippi to get rid of his oddball hat and get a gun. Mississippi asks Cole to teach him how to shoot, but Mississippi is such a bad shot that Cole gets him a sawed-off, double-barreled shotgun with the stock cut down to a plow-handle. Initially, Cole doesn't want anything to do with Mississippi, but Mississippi knows that Cole is heading back to El Dorado. It seems that Sheriff J.P. Harrah tangled "with a wandering petticoat" and lost. Since his ill-fated romance, Harrah has retreated into a whiskey bottle and Cole fears that Harrah will prove easy prey for McLeod. When they reach El Dorado, Maudie (Charlene Holt of "Redline 7000") brings Cole up to speed on the situation. Cole and Harrah tangle in the jail when Cole tries to awaken the drunken Harrah. Mississippi whips together a concoction to sober up Harrah and an old frontier scout Bull (seasoned character actor Arthur Hunnicutt of "The Big Sky") helps him acquire the ingredients.

Jason's men wound another MacDonald and Harrah takes Jason prisoner while McLeod lays siege to the jail. Cole's Achilles heel gunshot wound strikes him at an inopportune time and McLeod takes him hostage and exchanges Cole for Jason. The heroes, both crippled from gunshot wounds, surprise McLeod and Joe mows down Jason in a savage shoot'em up. Christopher George doesn't get much screen time but he makes a memorable villain. Hunnicutt steals the show with his homespun humor.
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Mickey Rooney caught a lot of flak for his Oriental caricature . . .
oscaralbert3 October 2015
Warning: Spoilers
. . . as Holly Golightly's neighbor in BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S, but a similar exercise in Hate Speech by James Caan (as "Mississippi") during EL DORADO slid past America's mealy-mouthed pundits unremarked because all of them were and remain shaking in their boots at the thought of taking salvos at any product put out by John Wayne, Charlton Heston, or other National Rifle Association Founding Fathers (formally institutionalized on June 29, 2010, when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his D.C. vs. Heller decision that "Our Constitution actually IS a Suicide Pact," evidenced most recently this week at Umpqua CC in Roseburg, OR). Minorities take another lethal hit in EL DORADO, as the flick's most extensive shootout takes place in a Spanish Mission. This church's bells wind up holier than Swiss cheese thanks to the band of sacrilegious thugs led by Wayne, who also manage to blast some of the Sacred Gizmos from their wall niches with direct hits. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of EL DORADO is its take on American sexual mores. Whereas BREAKFAST campaigned to portray prostitution as a victimless "crime," EL DORADO's "Maudie" character is carefully drawn to boost American acceptance of the Old World's traditional Menage a Trois. Though there's no graphic depiction of a three-way featuring J.P., Maudie, and Cole, her key comment that she's "girl enough for both of" the guys is highlighted in the trailer, as well as the feature.
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Mediocre western with a few jokes
HotToastyRag22 August 2018
I'm not much of a John Wayne fan, but I do love Robert Mitchum, which is why I rented El Dorado. They play old friends reunited in a western town to try and keep the peace between two rival families. Bob is the town's sheriff, but his drunken ways have lost him the respect of everyone in town, hence the need for John to come and help. Meanwhile, a trigger-happy James Caan comes along for the ride, and Charlene Holt turns out to have dated both leads!

The only reason I didn't fall asleep during this one is because of Robert Mitchum; usually westerns have to be really good to keep me riveted. As much as I love my celebrity boyfriend, though, it's a part many actors could have played. The character is a comic relief, crying when people in town laugh at him and getting embarrassed when people walk in on him in the tub. Pretending to protect his modesty, he covers his own eyes!

The movie isn't a strict comedy, though; far from it. For western comedies, I prefer Dirty Dingus Magee, but El Dorado isn't the worst western I've sat through.
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Entertaining 1967 Wayne Western with James Caan and Robert Mitchum
Wuchakk12 March 2014
Released in 1967, Howard Hawks' "El Dorado" is an obvious reworking of his 1959 hit "Rio Bravo," both starring John Wayne, yet "El Dorado" is not a remake, as some claim.

The similarities are undeniable: Both films were shot in Old Tucson, Arizona (substituting for West Texas); both feature the same four general protagonists with John Wayne in the starring role, although he's not the Sheriff in this one; both involve the four protagonists staving off owlhoots intent on freeing a prisoner from the town jail (in this case, played by Edward Asner); and both feature a beautiful saloon-type female. Other than that these are different stories altogether with different characters.

Of the two I prefer "El Dorado." It's more eventful and less of an Old West soap opera and is therefore more accessible to the average viewer. "Rio Bravo", by contrast, is a unique cult Western; it has its own special vibe and the viewer has to adjust to appreciate it. Plus "Rio Bravo" is (naturally) more dated compared to "El Dorado." It seems like Hawks learned a thing or two from the less traditional Westerns put out in the 60s starting with Brando's outstanding "One-Eyed Jacks" in 1961, the obvious precursor to the Spaghetti Western.


  • "El Dorado" features a really good old Western tune during the opening credits. - Although "El Dorado" primarily takes place in the titular town (actually Old Tucson) there are quite a number of scenes that take place elsewhere, unlike "Rio Bravo" where the entire story takes place in the town. - Robert Mitchum is arguably better than Dean Martin as the drunkard; maybe because acting was his primary profession. - James Caan (father of Scott Caan) is superior to Ricky Nelson as the younger sidekick/deputy. Caan has a likable charisma whereas Nelson was okay but bland by comparison. Like the Mitchum/Martin comparison this may be due to the fact that Caan is an actor by profession rather than a singer trying to act. - Charlene Holt is arguably superior to Angie Dickinson. They both have "Whoa, Mama" boudoir scenes; compare for yourself. - "El Dorado" has two prominent babes whereas "Rio Bravo" only had one. Michele Carey stands out as the rancher's shapely daughter Joey. - There's great camaraderie between the main protagonists, particularly Wayne & Caan and Wayne & Mitchum. - Lastly, Arthur Hunnicutt is superior to the annoying Walter Brennan in the similar role.


  • The first half is better than the second half wherein the story settles down to events in the town, mostly at the Sheriff's office/jail. - In the second half the characters come off more cartoonish & stagy than real at times. This was a flaw that was being worked out of the Western in the 60s as verified by more reality-based films like "One-Eyed Jacks" and "Duel at Diablo." This problem was largely removed from Hawks' last (sort of) reworking of "Rio Bravo," 1970's "Rio Lobo", but not completely purged. - There's some real eye-rolling dialogue between Cole Thorton (Wayne) and the gunslinger played by Christopher George. They talk about the four (or so) fastest quick draws in the West and wonder who's faster between the two of 'em. It's juvenile & cartoony and, needless to say, totally unrealistic.

FINAL WORD: "El Dorado" is an entertaining John Wayne Western. It has that special 'something' that makes it click, particularly the first half before it takes the quasi-"Rio Bravo" route. Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Charlene Holt and Michele Carey are exceptional co-stars.

The film runs 126 minutes.

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My masterpiece number 32!!!
elo-equipamentos9 December 2018
Wayne & Mitchum already were at twilight of their long career,this masterpiece there are so many fresh characters, one is James Caan as Mississippi a fabulous performance having a silly hat as trademark, also Arthur Hannicutt as Bull on a wise funny role let the picture a slight humor, the chemistry in all four quoted capitalize on a enjoyable and priceless piece of art, the amazing lanscape around the creek with several rocks extracts displayed over this place arising in a faraway geological past, wisely shown cleverly by Howard Hawks, the sexy Charlene holt shaken everyone, it drive me crazy when l've try figure out what Mitchum and Wayne were waiting for, Christopher George as a scarface hired gun and their fellows gang made this picture an unmatched huge success!!!


First watch: 1986 / How many: 4 / Source: TV-DVD-BLU-RAY / Rating: 10
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Lacking in originality and freshness
JamesHitchcock29 July 2011
In 1959 Howard Hawks made a Western, "Rio Bravo", starring John Wayne and with a screenplay written by Leigh Brackett. The film told the story of how a fearless gunfighter (played by Wayne) defends a town against a gang of ruthless outlaws with the aid of a motley collection of characters, including a drunkard, a semi-comic but brave old man and a young greenhorn.

In 1967 Howard Hawks made another Western starring John Wayne and with a screenplay written by Leigh Brackett. The film told the story of how a fearless gunfighter (played by Wayne) defends a town against a gang of ruthless outlaws with the aid of a motley collection of characters, including a drunkard, a semi-comic but brave old man and a young greenhorn.

This second film was not, officially, a remake of "Rio Bravo"; it was, for example, given a new title, "El Dorado". There are a number of differences between the films. In "Rio Bravo" Wayne played the sheriff of the town. In "El Dorado" Wayne's character, Cole Thornton, is not a lawman but a hired gunslinger who is originally hired to fight for the villains; he quits when he discovers just how villainous they are. The town sheriff, J.P. Harrah, is an ally of Thornton but is of limited use as he has become an alcoholic following an unhappy love-affair; in "Rio Bravo" it was the out-of-town gunfighter played by Dean Martin who had the drink problem. "El Dorado" also contains a sub-plot about how Thornton shoots a young man in self-defence and is then forced to justify himself to the man's family.

The similarities between the two films, however, are far from accidental. There are a number of deliberate hints that "Rio Bravo" was Hawks's inspiration, such as the fact that both films have a Spanish title, in each case the name of the town. The characters played by Arthur Hunnicutt here and Walter Brennan in the earlier film are very similar to one another. In each case the young greenhorn is named after an American state, Colorado and Mississippi. The surname of Wayne's character may be a reference to another of his earlier films, "The Quiet Man", in which he also played a man named Thornton.

Seen by itself, "El Dorado" is not a bad film. It is attractively shot, competently acted (Robert Mitchum is particularly good as the broken-down alcoholic sheriff Harrah) and has a fast-moving story. It is, however, in some ways a disappointment. In the earlier part of his career, Hawks had been a very varied director. Although he had made some classic westerns, he was not exclusively, or even primarily, a "western director" like John Ford. He had worked in a number of genres, generally with great success, also making classic war films, comedies, films noirs and even musicals like "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes". It is therefore disappointing to see him at the end of his career repeating himself by effectively remaking one of his earlier films. This was to be his penultimate movie; his last, made three years later, was "Rio Lobo", another film- again with a Spanish title- which can be considered as an unacknowledged remake of "Rio Bravo", although with perhaps a greater degree of originality than "El Dorado".

Perhaps, however, Hawks was not entirely to blame. By the late sixties there were growing signs that the traditional Western had been done to death. So many had been made over the previous few decades that it was becoming increasingly difficult to use the genre to say anything new. (Those who did manage to do so were generally younger "revisionist" directors like Sam Peckinpah and Don Siegel who were willing to challenge the received idea of the Old West as one long struggle between the good guys and the bad guys). Even people who have not already seen "Rio Bravo" might find "El Dorado" lacking in originality and freshness, relying as it does on over-familiar situations and character-types, similar to those found in dozens if not hundreds of other Westerns dating back to the twenties and thirties. It was this lack of freshness which was to be a significant factor in the decline of the Western from the late seventies onwards and from which it has never entirely recovered, despite a modest revival in recent years. 6/10
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