Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

El Dorado


El Dorado (1966) We were getting near the end of the popularity of that durable genre film, the western. We were only a few years from The Wild Bunch and some others that gave a newer and more realistic look at what the West was really like. This is one of the last gasps of the traditional view, where it mattered how fast you were on the draw (most shooting in the real West was in the back, or from a safe distance), the difference between good guys and bad guys was clear and easy to see, where all saloons had tinkly pianos playing all the time and all the whores—sorry, Miss Kitty, dance hall girls—were gorgeous. The only difference here is that the heroes, John Wayne and Robert Mitchum, are showing their age, unlike the traditional cowboy heroes of the B-movie western like Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, Bob Steele, and … well, John Wayne. This somehow makes it all better to me, and I always liked the Duke better as an older actor. The dude had it down, every nuance of the tough, smart, good man. This movie has basically the same plot as the classic Rio Bravo, with Mitchum instead of Dean Martin as the drunk. Both were directed by Howard Hawks. Costarring are a very young James Caan as “Mississippi,” and Ed Asner as the bad guy who wants to run the good family out of town. Pure cliché, but I enjoyed it.