Aug 11

Film review – El Dorado (1966)

Film review – El Dorado (1966)

El Dorado

Rating: 8/10

Starring: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Arthur Hunnicutt, Charlene Holt, Michele Carey, Ed Asner, Christopher George, R. G. Armstrong, Paul Fix, Robert Donner, Jim Davis, Adam Roarke, Johnny Crawford, John Mitchum, Chuck Roberson, Don Collier, Olaf Wieghorst

Directed by: Howard Hawks

Review: Film review – El Dorado (1966) – This mid sixties Western starring John Wayne is a bit of a classic. It is essentially a remake of the 1959 film Rio Bravo also starring John Wayne. For some reason Howard Hawks developed a bit of an obsession with the theme and developed three versions of it in total, he produced and directed all three.

John Wayne plays Cole Thornton a hired gun. Edward Asner plays Bart Johnson a wealthy rancher who hires him to help win a range war. Robert Mitchum plays the Sheriff, J.P. Harrah of El Dorado who is an old friend of Thornton’s and when he finds out why Thornton has come to town warns him off, advising him he wasn’t told the truth about the situation. Thornton accepts his advise and turns down the job with Johnson. As he is returning to town from the Johnson ranch Thornton accidentally shoots one of the sons of Kevin MacDonald played by R.G. Armstrong, the MacDonald’s are the other ranch owners who Johnson is trying to get rid of. The boy is gut shot and knowing this is a bad position to be in kills himself to end the suffering. Thornton returns the boys body to the MacDonald’s clan and explains the situation before leaving. Again on his way back to town he is shot by one of MacDonald’s Daughters. He disarms her and is not fatally wounded but when he finally gets back to town the local doctor is unable to remove the bullet because it is too close to his spine. The doctor advises him to have it removed as soon as he a meets a better quality doctor.

Thornton leaves town once he gets better and after a couple of months runs into Mississippi, played by James Caan, a young man who kills another man in the bar Thornton is in. Turns out the man had killed a friend of his two years ago and he had been hunting him down all this time. When friends of the man look like starting further trouble Thornton steps in and stops the fight. It’s at this time Thornton realises that one of the men is Nelson McLeod a famous gun slinger. He’s heading for El Dorado having been hired to do the job Thornton turned down. He tries to hire Thornton to go with him but Thornton turns him down whilst at the same time learning that the sheriff J.P. Harrah is currently a drunk having loved and lost a woman since Thornton was there last. Thornton and Mississippi team up and decide to go and help Harrah against McLeod and Johnson.

There’s plenty of gunfights, token female interest provided by Charlene Holt as Maudie and Michele Carey as Josephine ‘Joey’ MacDonald and a high quality cast. This is a slightly harder edged version compared with the earlier Rio Bravo version. Good stuff.



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