El Dorado (1967)


John Wayne and Robert Mitchum headline this Howard Hawks western about a gunfighter-for-hire (Wayne) who teams up with a drunk sheriff (Mitchum) to help a family protect their land from a rival rancher. The plot to El Dorado was a little hard for me to follow. So many characters are introduced in the first half hour and the way allegiances are formed is a tad labyrinthine — but by the midpoint of the movie, I could see what Hawks was trying to do. He was pretty much trying to remake Rio Bravo. Both films descend into siege narratives and every character from the 1959 film has a doppelganger in the 1967 one, from the ensemble of four men down to the strong female love interest, here played by Charlene Holt. While I think Mitchum, James Caan, and Arthur Hunnicutt all do better in El Dorado than their Rio Bravo counterparts (Dean Martin, Ricky Martin, and Walter Brennan), Rio Bravo is the stronger, more streamlined and impactful film. El Dorado is still an interesting film to watch — kinda like how both versions of Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much are interesting. The banter between the characters is entertaining, James Caan and Robert Mitchum are both pretty exciting to watch, and the climactic showdown — spread out over an entire night — is pretty engaging. With Ed Asner.

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