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Howard Hawks
John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, James Caan, Charlene Holt, Paul Fix, Arthur Hunnicutt, Michele Carey
Writing Credits:
Harry Brown (novel), Leigh Brackett

It's The Big One With The Big Two!

Cole Thornton, a gunfighter for hire, joins forces with an old friend, Sheriff J.P. Hara. Together with an old indian fighter and a gambler, they help a rancher and his family fight a rival rancher that is trying to steal their water.

Box Office:
Domestic Gross
$6.000 million.

Rated NR

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Monaural
French Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 127 min.
Price: $9.98
Release Date: 3/21/2000

• Trailer


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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El Dorado: John Wayne Collection (1967)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 18, 2008)

No use in pretending - I openly admit that I've never been much of a fan of Westerns. I was born just a little too late to embrace them during their heyday. Though they've experienced periodic revivals - most notably during the early Nineties, when Westerns grabbed Best Picture Oscars two of three years - I haven't been able to develop much of an affection for them.

Nonetheless, I've seen a few I like - the classic Stagecoach impressed me most - and I'm happy to check out others to learn more about the genre. As such, I was pleased to receive a DVD copy of a "later-career" John Wayne effort, 1967's El Dorado. Wayne continues to remain the definitive American icon, and it's exciting to witness more of his work. However, while Stagecoach impressed me mightily, this much-later flick seemed less impressive Ė though still good.

The most intriguing aspect of El Dorado stems from its pairing of Wayne and Robert Mitchum. This was their second and final project together, and their only joint Western. Actually, it may have been the only one of the two films in which they truly interacted. Their prior pairing came in The Longest Day, a three-hour epic that packed in about eight million actors. I never saw that movie, so I don't know if Mitchum and Wayne had any scenes together. Based on that enormous roster of stars, I'd say there's a good chance all their scenes were separate.

That's definitely not the case in El Dorado, which matches them as friends. I didn't find much about Dorado that made it stand out in a crowd, but the easy banter between these two helped. Both characters are afforded some depth and the two actors relate to each other in appropriate and believable ways. It remains Wayne's movie through and through, but the addition of another sizable star helps make the show more entertaining.

As for the story, it combines the usual Western themes of honor and revenge. Wayne plays a hired gun who stays on the right side of a land dispute, and Mitchum works as the sheriff who tries to ensure Wayne's Cole Thornton won't tip the scale against the sympathetic party. All seems well until after a few months, Mitchum's Harrah hits the bottle due to the loss of a love and Thornton returns both to sober up his buddy and to make sure the simmering battle doesn't explode. Eventually it does, of course, and Thornton picks up a brash sidekick named Mississippi (James Caan) along the way. The usual shoot-outs and fights ensue.

El Dorado seems to be a pretty formulaic Western, but it's an enjoyable one. The lead actors fill their roles nicely, and the supporting cast works effectively as well. Caan wouldn't have been my first choice as the young bandit, but he does a strong job in the role - excepting his miserable "Chinaman" act, but that bit would have stunk no matter who did it.

Christopher George seems appropriately nasty - but not stereotypically so - as baddie Nelse McLeod. While I didn't think much of Michele Carey's acting talents as tough gal Joey MacDonald, I won't complain because she's amazingly sexy, though anachronistically so. She really looks like she just stepped out of the video for "These Boots Were Made For Walkin'" and she doesn't fit with the rest of the folks.

The plot of El Dorado appears thin, and the characters are marginal for the most part, but overall it works, largely on the strength of its stars. Add some solid action and fights and the project offers a fairly entertaining and exciting film.

The DVD Grades: Picture C-/ Audio B/ Bonus D-

El Dorado appears in its original theatrical aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though the movie looked acceptable much of the time, I couldnít say much for the transfer than that.

Many of the issues connected to sharpness. The image displayed moderate edge enhancement and often took on a somewhat ill-defined appearance. The movie didnít appear tremendously soft, but it also didnít show very good delineation. Jagged edges and shimmering werenít concerns, but some source flaws materialized. I saw occasional specks, marks and blotches, though they remained reasonably minor.

Colors largely appeared good, though they could seem overly heavy at times. This may be due to the film stock used during that era, as many movies from that period displayed somewhat thick hues. Still, I had few issues with the colors, as they usually appeared acceptably clean and accurate. Black levels looked a bit runny, and shadow detail seemed slightly iffy. Interiors suffered from muddiness, though the general softness didnít help. This was a good enough transfer for a ďC-ď but it disappointed.

On the other hand, the film's monaural audio was quite good for its age. The sound seemed surprisingly robust and crisp. Dialogue occasionally suffered from some obvious dubbing that didn't integrate particularly well with the picture. Frankly, that aspect alone knocked my grade down from a "B" just because some of the re-recorded speech comes across fairly poorly. Other than that, however, dialogue seemed pretty warm and natural, and intelligibility was never an issue.

Effects appeared relatively powerful. They sounded clean and relatively realistic, and distortion was minimal. Nelson Riddle's score appeared fairly clear and bright. It could have used more low-end, but it fit the rest of the audio well. At times I heard a light layer of tape hiss, but this was not consistently apparent. The audio for El Dorado worked well.

Less positive are the DVD's supplements. All we find here is the film's theatrical trailer. Yawn!

I donít know if El Dorado qualifies as a cinematic classic, but it remains a memorable Western after four decades. It does enough to satisfy and entertain to make it a good flick. Unfortunately, while the DVD offers reasonably solid audio, picture quality is problematic and it lacks extras. This is an interesting movie but not a positive DVD.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5 Stars Number of Votes: 30
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