El Dorado

El Dorado (1967)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Buddy Film, Ensemble Film, Outlaw (Gunfighter) Film  |   Release Date - Dec 17, 1966 (USA - Unknown), Jun 7, 1967 (USA)  |   Run Time - 125 min.  |   Countries - Peru, Turkey, United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Michael Costello

Essentially the same plot that Hawks had previously used in Rio Bravo (1959) and would return to in Rio Lobo (1970), El Dorado deals with his characteristic themes of friendship and professionalism. John Wayne plays aging, wounded gunfighter Cole Thornton, who joins forces with his old friend J.P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum), a sheriff turned alcoholic, and young knife-thrower Mississippi (James Caan), to fight off cattle baron Bart Jason (Ed Asner). Much more a film about relationships than it is an action piece, like Rio Bravo it focuses on Wayne's efforts to help his buddy overcome his drinking problem and restore his self-respect. Hawks also implies the depredations of age, intimating that, although this might not be their last stand, these two are approaching the end of their journey, and now need help from younger people. Yet, as always with Hawks, these themes are stated with humor, using the oblique "three-cushion" dialogue he claimed to have learned from Hemingway. The film's best scenes take place in the jail where the two friends, along with Caan and the deputy (Arthur Hunnicut), exchange insults -- the only way that they, and Hawks, know how to express love. Since, for the veterans, these parts virtually play themselves, it's Caan who gives the best performance as an intense young stud trying to get a handle on these old guys. Made when the director was nearly 70, El Dorado may not stand with the best of his work, but it remains a solid, entertaining Western.