EL DORADO was the second of a western triology Wayne did with Howard Hawks. The first, RIO BRAVO had done very well. In EL DORADO, the format was almost the same. John Wayne, as Cole Thornton, is an aging gunfighter.
Robert Mitchum, as “JP” Harra, is the town sheriff of EL DORADO. He too is a former gunfighter turned lawman and long time friend of Cole Thornton.
In supporting roles are Charlene Holt, the “girlfriend” Maudy; James Caan as Mississippi; Christopher George as hired gun-bad guy, Nelles McCloud; and the evil rancher played by Ed Asner.
As the story unfolds, we learn that Thorton and Harra have a history. Wayne has first come to El Dorado to be hired by Rancher Ed Asner. Refusing the offer, Wayne is now a free agent.
The story complicates as Wayne, thinking he is being ambushed, kills the son of another large rancher. His sister then does ambush Wayne later and Wayne now has a bullet in his back that causes partial paraylisis in his gunhand whenever the action picks up. Wayne leaves El Dorado, meets “Mississippi” who is on a mission of revenge. They both return to El Dorado to help the sheriff, who has now turned into a drunk over the loss of a girl.
And so it goes. Robert Mitchum does an excellent job. James Caan as a new actor to the screen also portrays his part well. As do all. The story is a bit worn and although it was obviously an attempt to remake “Rio Bravo”, it just never quite had the quality. Still it is a must for all John Wayne and Robert Mitchum fans.
Review by: N. J. HIRSCH