El Dorado is about a feud that is going on between two different groups called the McDonalds and Bart Jason’s group. John Wayne accidently shoots one of the sons that belongs to the McDonald family. He is then shot by a sister of the kid named Joey. John Wayne survives being shot, but for the rest of the movie he has back problems because of the bullet. He leaves town for six to seven months after the incident with the McDonalds to forget about killing their kid. He meets up with a guy who fights with a knife and has been avenging his guardian named Mississippi. John Wayne has a short encounter with another gun slinger named McCloud during which time John Wayne finds out that his friend, the sheriff for the town where the two groups have been feuding, has become a drunk and trouble is soon going to occur, so he goes back to the town with Mississippi to help Robert Mitchum and his deputy stop Bart Jason from taking the farm away from the McDonalds.
The acting in this movie is great. John Wayne turns in his usual performance as a tough gun slinger, only this time he has a weakness with his back issues from being shot. Robert Mitchum, another tough guy for Hollywood around the same time as John Wayne, does a great job as the drunk sheriff. He and John Wayne actually get into a fist fight at one point, which is probably one of the most entertaining action scenes in this movie to watch. James Caan, who is very young at this point but would go on to be in other action movies such as Eraser with Arnold Schwarzenegger, plays Mississippi, who can’t shoot so he fights with a knife.
There is a lot of action in this movie with the three main actors in this movie; John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and James Caan, tearing through the villains. It’s actually a bit one sided with how much damage the heroes do against the villains with the villains being able to do hardly anything besides shoot one of the McDonalds, shoot Robert Mitchum in the leg when he runs into the middle of the street and knock Mississippi unconscious when John Wayne’s back starts acting up again. Most of the time the heroes do more damage to each other with shooting each other a couple of times, getting in fist fights and feeding each other toxic concoctions than the villains do to them. Mississippi manages to have his revenge against the final man who had killed his guardian with his knife, before he opts for a high powered shot gun. John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and James Caan have a gun fight with three criminals who are in a church sniping down at them. The gun fight leads to one of the criminals escaping and they chase him into a bar where they take him down. Some of the criminals ride through the street on horse back and have a gun fight with the heroes. The criminals eventually manage to capture John Wayne, which leads to them getting Bart Jason back and capturing one of the McDonalds. The heroes have a final confrontation against the villains, which is actually kind of anti climactic.
There are a couple of running jokes in the movie with Mississippi having a strange, real name that nobody can remember and not being able to shoot except with a shot gun with a large range. Also, sobering up Robert Mitchum was amusing as well with the concoction they feed him, which makes him sick to his stomach.
There is some suspense when the heroes go out on patrol and are looking for trouble. Also, there is some suspense with John Wayne having sudden back spasms, which weaken him at random, inconvenient times, one time during a confrontation with some of the villains.
The heroes in this movie are great. They really tear this movie apart. John Wayne is the typical, tough gun slinger. Robert Mitchum is the drunk sheriff who has to sober up and does brash things like punching John Wayne and plowing through a couple of church doors to get a couple of the criminals who had shot one of the McClouds. James Caan has a performance early in his career as a guy with a knife because he can’t shoot straight. He has an interesting romance with my favorite John Wayne woman. There is also an older guy named Bull who blows a bugle and apparently used to fight Native Americans.
The woman in this movie is my favorite woman in any John Wayne movie, and my first ever infatuation. In junior high this was one of my favorite movies along with Rio Bravo, and I had a big infatuation for the McCloud woman in this movie named Joey. She appeals to me even today with her attractive looks and androgynous name (Jo as the full first name or a variation of that name such as Joan or Joanna is probably the best name I can think of for a woman; Joan of Arc, Joan Jett, Joey McDonald, Jo Carpenter, Joanna Dark, etc.). Also, she is good with a rifle and not only kills the boss villain in this movie saving John Wayne’s life but also is the only person I know of who ever intentionally shot John Wayne and got away with it, although interestingly enough she might have actually been the one responsible for John Wayne’s character dying. In the Shootist John Wayne is dying of a cancer next to his spine and there are clips shown of him at the beginning of the movie in movies such as Rio Bravo and El Dorado, which were apparently earlier in his character’s life. John Wayne never does actually have the bullet removed from his back in El Dorado, which makes me think that he waited too long to have it removed and the bullet is what led to his cancer. I still love Joey’s character anyway, though, despite that.
The villains in this movie are pretty terrible. They do hardly anything in this movie besides shoot one of the McDonalds, shoot Robert Mitchum and knock Mississippi unconscious. Bart Jason is just your average boss villain who has a lot of money and has other people fight for him. Maybe his faith was misplaced in McCloud, though, because McCloud has about as disappointing of a final fight with the hero as Scaramanga does in Man With the Golden Gun. We get all of this build up that McCloud is one of the four best gun slingers around, but when he finally has his confrontation against John Wayne, John Wayne takes him easily down with out taking a single hit or close call.
There is one song featured in this movie, which is pretty good, Ride, Pony, Ride, which I think might have been sung by Robert Mitchum. I have one of Robert Mitchum’s songs in my music collection called The Ballad of Thunder Road, and the vocals sound a lot like the vocals for Ride, Pony, Ride. Not only was Robert Mitchum one of the toughest guys around back in his day, but he was also a pretty good vocalist from what I have heard of him singing.
The main setting in this movie is a town that looks a lot like the town in Rio Bravo. However, unlike Rio Bravo they do move around a little more than just the town with John Wayne taking six or seven months away from the place. There is some pretty beautiful country that John Wayne travels on when he is away from the main town.
There is also an interesting gun used in this movie, Mississippi’s gun, the shot gun with a wide range and massive fire power. Mississippi’s gun is quite a force to be reckoned with as it takes down multiple people at once, shoots through walls and tears apart anything in front of it. John Wayne had some good advice when he told Mississippi to watch where it was pointed because his gun could destroy anything in front of it.
El Dorado is a great action movie with a great cast. It is my favorite western movie with John Wayne for just entertainment purposes. My final two favorite movies are a little deeper with their characters and plot, a couple of classic John Wayne movies that I will try to review today before I go back to school again.