116 of 124 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
Director Howard Hawks and John Wayne would essentially remake the same story three times: first as RIO BRAVO in 1959, then as EL DORADO in 1967, and finally as RIO LOBO in 1970. Caught between the popularity of the first and the dismal failure of the third, EL DORADO is something of a neglected film--but for my money, it is easily the best of the three.
The story is the stuff that Western myths are made of. Aging gun-slinger John Wayne is offered a job as hired gun in a range war, but he discovers that acceptance of the job would place him on the wrong side of the law--which in this case is old friend and small town sheriff Robert Mitchum, who has made himself a laughing stock by drinking his way to the bottom of every bottle he can find. Wayne accordingly drifts into town, whips Mitchum into shape, and with the assistance of crotchety deputy Arthur Hunnicutt and youngster James Caan they set about cleaning up the town.
Although EL DORADO has a leisurely tone, but it never feels in the least slow--largely due to an unexpectedly witty script that crackles with memorable dialogue (at one point when Mitchum asks Wayne what he's looking at, Wayne responds "A tin star with a drunk pinned to it") and unexpected situations (such as Caan's unfortunate way with a shotgun.) The entire cast handles both humor and old-west action with equal skill, and both Wayne and Mitchum offer some the best work of their impressive careers here; James Caan (in his first major success), Arthur Hunnicutt, Charlene Holt, and Michele Carey are equally memorable.
There are a great many westerns more critically acclaimed than EL DORADO--RED RIVER, THE SEARCHERS, and STAGE COACH to name but a few. And I enjoy them. But EL DORADO is like meeting an old friend whose company you always enjoy. Strongly recommended.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I want to be clear as Amazon.com is mixing reviews for all of the editions of the movie of EL DORADO on DVD. This review is for the latest (2009) 2 DVD set Centennial Collection. Being an owner of the previous releases and a huge fan of the movie (probably in the minority who favor it to Rio Bravo)as far as the movie goes it looks stunning! The picture is crisp, the contrast brilliant and the color well saturated. If I didn't know better I'd think it was a VistaVision. The Second disc has some very entertaining and educational featurettes which kept me amused for over an hour themselves. James Caan is great in the film, Mitchum is ....Mitchum ..which is superb and Ed Asner brings a gravitas to his character. Oh...John Wayne is terrific and this is just a lot of fun.
UPDATE 3/8/14 The BLU RAY is even better, goodness this film is breath taking in BR and I have to admit I've just watched it back to back. I picked up the "import" version without the extras but have the domestic one on order, I hear scuttle butt the import may have a slightly better picture in that the domestic may be a tad over processed for the super picky, I'll update after an AB test. Every frame of this film is so beautiful it could be printed and hung on a wall, and the fact that so much is shot at night enables the cinematographer (Rosson) to do beautiful work and make it look like each scene is lit with found lighting, not your TV lighting at all! For me I prefer this to Rio Bravo as I believe Mitchum clearly outclasses Dean Martin and James Caan is far superior to Ricky Nelson ...they've kept the major bonus feature from the 2 DVD set so unlike many re releases on BR we get all the goodies.. a great movie in my collection just moved from Gold to Diamond for me!!
76 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I'm 53 years old and have loved John Wayne since first seeing him at the movies as "Hondo" as a boy. I loved Rio Bravo, but have to give the edge to this remake. As good as the original was, El Dorado is more enjoyable and convincing to me. The Duke is as good as he ever was in his usual role as the hired gun with a conscience whose reputation alone strikes fear into the hearts of the bad guys. Few western actresses could match the young Angie Dickinson in Rio Bravo, but the male supporting cast is better in El Dorado. Mitchum is excellent, young James Caan adds charm and humor and Arthur Hunnicutt nearly steals the show in the Walter Brennan role as Mitchum's loyal, but crusty deputy, Bull. For my money, Hunnicutt is one of the great homespun character actors of all time and this is certainly one of his very best performances. Most don't know his name like they do the great Walter Brennan's but he's just as good or better. A then noname Ed Asner and Christopher George (TV's The Rat Patrol) are excellent as the main bad guys. George is actually somewhat likeable as a man willing to sell his gun to the most odious of crooks, but still possessed of a sense of fair play. Jim Davis (Jock Ewing of TV's Dallas) plays one of Asner's henchmen. This is just a great cast telling a great old west story.
A recent biography of director Howard Hawks points out that Hawks badly needed a hit late in his career when El Dorado was put together. His effort is evident. Even the opening credits are great--a series of beautiful western paintings by Olaf Wieghorst, who also appears as the gunsmith, "The Swede." The title song by George Alexander is memorable as well.
BTW, the poem Caan keeps quoting, which serves as the foundation for the title song, was Edgar Alan Poe's last poem--"El Dorado", of course. The movie was filmed just west of Tucson, AZ in what is today Old Tucson--a must tour for anyone interested in westerns. Westerns are still filmed there. Movies filmed there include Rio Bravo, El Dorado, McClintock, and Rio Lobo by Wayne, as well as many others such as Joe Kidd, Tombstone and even The Three Amigos.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I love John Wayne movies, and I love Amazon's dedication to offer the most for your dollar, so this Exclusive, to me, is the best of both worlds! While several 'signature' Wayne films (the Ford 'Cavalry' trilogy, in particular), are absent, and other 'classics' can be purchased individually, or in other boxed sets, this John Wayne DVD collection offers 10 of the Duke's most memorable films of the 60s and 70s...at less than $10, each! Talk about getting your money's worth!
The titles include:
"El Dorado" and "Rio Lobo": Howard Hawks' two variations of his classic, "Rio Bravo", all starring Wayne. "El Dorado", in particular, is a most worthy 'remake', offering Robert Mitchum in a wonderful comic send-up of the Dean Martin role, James Caan more entertaining than Ricky Nelson, and Arthur Hunnicutt, complete with bugle, filling Walter Brennan's shoes. Add Ed Asner as the villain, and Duke, standing tall (even while carrying a bullet inside him), and you have a first-rate actioner. While "Rio Lobo" is a disappointment (both Wayne and Hawks were sadly showing their years), it does offer the gorgeous (if wooden) Jennifer O'Neill, future studio boss Sherry Lansing, and Mitchum's son, Chris (along with an unbilled appearance by Wayne's youngest son, Ethan), in support.
"Hatari!": One of the BEST Hawks/Wayne teamings, this vastly entertaining African comedy/adventure may be the longest 'Buddy' film ever made, at 157 minutes, but Wayne, with all-star support including Hardy Krüger, Elsa Martinelli, and Red Buttons, makes capturing wild animals for zoos and circuses an irresistable experience!
"The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance": John Ford's last 'Classic' western, a deconstruction of the mythic West that he and Wayne helped create. Equal parts comedy and tragedy, with a healthy dose of old-fashioned politics, as Jimmy Stewart achieves national acclaim by shooting town bully Lee Marvin...an act actually done by Wayne! "When people prefer the myth to the truth, print the myth" is a credo Ford believed in, and this film is it's purest embodiment. A MUST!
"Donovan's Reef": Ford and Wayne, teamed again with Lee Marvin, in a delightful South Seas romp, as prim Elizabeth Allen learns to 'loosen up' under Wayne's brawny charms (forget the 27-year age difference!) Brawling fun, with Jack Warden, Cesar Romero, and saronged Dorothy Lamour in support.
"The Sons of Katie Elder": Most significant as being Wayne's triumphant return to the screen after losing a lung to cancer, this sprawling Henry Hathaway-directed western reteams Duke with Dean Martin (as BROTHERS?), in an entertaining tale of four brothers' vengeance; with a flavorful Elmer Bernstein score.
"True Grit": Hathaway directs Wayne to an Oscar, as one-eyed Rooster Cogburn. An underappreciated gem (Duke playing an old, fat reprobate upset many fans), but he has a ball in the role, and few of his films captured the 'feel' of the period, better!
"In Harm's Way": Otto Preminger and Wayne made a great team, in the director's HUGE saga of Pearl Harbor, and the early days of the Pacific war. No superhuman heroics, here, just a dedicated Naval officer (Wayne), his relationships (with Patricia Neal, Brandon De Wilde, and a superb Kirk Douglas), and his part in helping turn the tide of the war.
"Big Jake": Violent, but engrossing late western, as Duke's grandson (played by son Ethan) is kidnapped by Richard Boone's gang, and his estranged wife (radiant Maureen O'Hara, in her last teaming), depends on him to recover the boy. Featuring another Wayne son, Patrick, Robert Mitchum's son, Chris, and MANY of the old John Ford 'stock company' in support; at times quite brutal, but still one of Wayne's best 'late' films.
"The Shootist": Wayne's swansong is a loving tribute, despite the many difficulties his declining health caused. A legendary gunfighter must choose between dying from cancer or in a blaze of glory; from the wonderful opening montage of Wayne clips from several of his most popular westerns, to the bittersweet conclusion, a fitting film finale, with several 'old friends' in supporting roles.
Bravo, Amazon! You've done it right!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2004
If you like John Wayne and the classic western genre, you'll love this film. The cast is wonderful: John Wayne and Robert Mitchum (old friends and nemesis), James Caan (what a kid!), Ed Asner, and Christopher George.
Wayne and Mitchum are a little long in the tooth and there is talk of settling down, but there are scores to settle and justice to enforce first.
Near the end of the movie is a faux pas regarding crutches. Both the heroes are using crutches by this time and Mitchum mistakenly changes the side he's using. John Wayne picks up on the oversight and quips to Mitchum in an ad-lib ( I believe) that is very clever.
John Wayne is thoroughly the "Duke" here - his swagger, tough talk, hard-bitten quips, and ironic surprise at everything that happens. I don't recall him being as "Himself" as he is in this movie.
There are many comic moments amid the classic tale of hired guns, good versus evil, fights over water rights, and "top hand" winning the girl. All in all, a delightful film well worth watching.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2009
This is a review of the 2009 2-disc Centennial Edition. If you're a fan of this movie (as I am), you probably already own the previous release (as I do), so the real question is: should you upgrade? The answer is unconditionally YES! The image quality of the new transfer is miles beyond the earlier version, and with an upconverting DVD player, it really looks fantastic. The bonus disk is enjoyable as well. Kudos to Paramount for doing a first rate job on this one. Although the movie itself may not qualify for classic status, it's great entertainment and, for my money, a better picture than its previous incarnation as "Rio Bravo." The easy camaraderie between John Wayne and Robert Mitchum, and the fun the director has with James Caan's character equals one good time!
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format: VHS Tape
It may not have the stature--critically or in the popular mind--of the films the Duke made in his prime, like "Stagecoach," "The Searchers," or the Cavalry Trilogy, but this boisterous Western clearly shows why Wayne got away for so long with "playing himself." He and co-star Mitchum bring to the screen, if not the limber bodies of their youth, a presence and experience (between them they had more than six decades in film by the time they made this one) that we seldom see in today's stars. Very sensibly, they both play men of experience who are now slowing down a bit and beginning to think about the future they may not have anticipated having: Mitchum, as Sheriff JP Harrah, has settled down, and Wayne, as Cole Thornton, is picking his fights with care. Familiar faces abound in the supporting cast, and there's a nice mix of action, humor, and outstanding characters (Christopher George as villain Nelse McCloud is one of the samples of that species you "love to hate"). There's even a hint of romance, not only in the quirky relationship between James Caan as "Mississippi" Trehearne and Michele Carey as Joey MacDonald, but in the long history between Cole and saloonowner Maudie (Charlene Holt). I couldn't begin to guess how many times I've rewatched this movie, and I still enjoy it just as much.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2001
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
This movie still remains one of my favorite westerns. John Wayne, in fine form, plays his stock character, the Rattlesnake-quick hired gunfighter, but with one problem--A bullet in his back from an old injury causes paralysis in his gun hand at the most inopportune moments. In the end, he is forced to resort to trickery to defeat the villian of the piece, another hired gunfighter played with icy calmness by Christopher George. The Duke begins to show his age in this movie, but just like fine wine he only seems to improve as he gets older. Also included is the unforgettable Robert Mitchum, as the sheriff on a full-fledged drunken bender. The two actors complement each other quite well, although sometimes it seems they compete for the camera. Also included in the cast is a very young (but still unmistakable) James Caan, the beautiful Charlene Holt as The Duke's long-suffering girlfriend, and Arthur Hunnicut as the noisy, loveable old coot who, along with Caan's character, provides some strong comic relief. If you don't recognize either of those last two names, don't worry--I didn't either. Note to parents: While there is a lot of gunplay and fistfighting in this movie, remember, it was made back in the 60's--blood and gore are kept to a minimum.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2007
Yes, El Dorado has a similar plot as Rio Bravo, and it stars the "Duke" and is directed by the same director.
But, El Dorado has a much tighter and leaner script, and doesn't contain any dreaded "filler" like Rio Bravo, nor does it have the woefully miscast Ricky Nelson. (It's still a superior western though)
El Dorado co-stars the much more effective James Caan, and the incomparable Robert Mitchum in a spectacular performance.
A great story, a wonderful and superb cast, lots of great action and masterful direction make this a "must-see" western. (that "splinters in the hand" scene has to be seen to be believed ! )
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
This is my all-time favorite John Wayne flick. Most lists I see list "The Searchers" as the best, but I disagree. This is essentially a reworking of "Rio Bravo", but you get better co-stars here with Robert Mitchum and James Caan. Plus you don't have the unrealistic sing-a-long that occurs in the middle of "Bravo"
In this movie Cole Thornton (Wayne) is a hired gunman in town to help out in a range war. Before he goes out to meet his new boss, Bart Jason (Ed Asner), he meets his old buddy J. P. Harrah (Mitchum). Harrah convinces Thornton that he'd be fighting for the wrong side.
Later, Thornton is in another town, where he meets up with Nils McCloud (Christopher George), who is off to El Dorado to take the job Thornton turned down. McCloud tells Thornton that Harrah is now a hopeless drunk, so of course, this being a Wayne flick, Thornton has to ride to the rescue.
Along the way he is accompanied by Alan Bedillian Traherne ("Yeah, that's why most people call me 'Mississippi'.") and Bull (Arthur Hunnicut). The end is a shootout worthy of the name.