Thursday, April 16, 2015

El Dorado

I apologize for not posting any blog entries here over the past eight months: I was in the process of moving from the East Coast to the Southwest and that was very time-consuming.  But now that I am living in the West, I love it!  And I am ready to resume writing blog posts about movies and other aspects of the Old West.  Thanks for reading!

Back in the fall, I attended a special screening of El Dorado in Tucson, Arizona, where the movie was partially filmed.  Cindy Mitchum, daughter of Robert Mitchum, one of the stars of the movie, along with John Wayne, signed posters of the movie (see photo at right) and did a question-and-answer session before the film began about her father’s work.  The interviewer had a hard time eliciting information from her but the little she did offer was interesting. 

As for the movie itself, I was not enthralled with it.  The 1966 movie was a remake of Rio Bravo and that is a far, far better film.  Perhaps if I had not seen Rio Bravo first, I would have liked this movie.  El Dorado is not a bad movie, it just doesn’t hold up well at all in comparison to the other one, despite that fact that both were directed by Howard Hawks.  It’s 126 minutes long and it really did seem long.

One of the few good things in El Dorado, though, is Michele Carey (Betsey in A Fistful of Diamonds).  Her voice is completely different!  Her character is a strong young woman who can take care of herself, a surprising and very different role from the one she portrayed on ASJ.  R.G. Armstrong (Max in The Bounty Hunter) plays her father and Paul Fix (Clarence in Night of the Red Dog) plays a doctor.  Robert Donner (Preacher in Never Trust an Honest Man, Nate in The Bounty Hunter, Charlie Taylor in The Day the Amnesty Came Through) is also in El Dorado, playing one of the bad guys.

I highly recommend watching the bonus DVD before viewing El Dorado itself– you will appreciate the movie much more if you do.  The first bonus feature, which lasts around half an hour, discusses the history and making of the movie, has in-depth commentary from several film critics, and interviews with various people involved in the film, including James Caan and Edward Asner.  It is well worth the time to see this! 

The second bonus feature is a short overview of the artist whose paintings are used in the opening credits; it’s quite interesting.  The next bonus feature is a short interview with A.C. Lyles, a producer at Paramount, taking about working with John Wayne, who insisted on being called “Duke.”  The final extras on this DVD are the original trailer for the film and a series of still photos, both lobby cards in color and black-and-white photos taken on the set during production of El Dorado.

Although El Dorado does have some positive aspects, there are plenty of other Westerns I would recommend watching before viewing this one.