Out of the Past: The Films of Robert Mitchum

El Dorado

Howard HawksUSA126 minutes1966PGColourEnglish Spanish

Mar 3
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    "If it worked once, it'll work again!" John Wayne crowed when he realized that his next project with director Howard Hawks was essentially a remake of the pair's previous hit Rio Bravo. More or less repeating his Rio role, Wayne plays aging gunslinger Cole Thornton, while Robert Mitchum steps into Dean Martin's dipso shoes as Thornton's old pal J.P. Harrah, a once-feared lawman whom romantic disappointment has now rendered "a tin star with a drunk pinned on it." Reuniting to protect a ranching family from a ruthless cattleman (Ed Asner), the duo receives some unlikely aid from Mississippi (James Caan, subbing in for Ricky Nelson), a knife-throwing greenhorn who's hopeless with a gun. Shot in Tucson in a largely improvised manner, El Dorado was steered in a lighter direction by Mitchum, whose pranks turned the genial western into something of a comedy; Hawks later remarked that in one scene, you can even hear the crew laughing at the actor's carrying on. "A tightly directed, humorous, altogether successful Western, turned out almost effortlessly, it would seem, by three old pros" (Roger Ebert).

    35mm original theatrical print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive.