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El Dorado

(1966, Hawks)
A film from Howard Hawks

"Man, don't tell me how good I was. I just got away with it because I had an hangover. I was too mad to be scared and too sick to worry about it. You know that."

El Dorado follows Cole Thornton (John Wayne) a gun-for-hire that wants to help his friend J.P. Harrah (Robert Mitchum), a sheriff that has to deal with a conflict between two rival ranchers, but has recently resorted to alcoholism after a break-up turning him into the "mock of the town".

This is only my third Howard Hawks film after the excellent The Big Sleep and the underwhelming His Girl Friday, and it happens to sit right in the middle as far as I'm concerned. I was told after that this is pretty much a remake of Hawks' own Rio Bravo, but having no knowledge of that, I thought it was for the most part an enjoyable film.

There's some good performances from most of the main cast, especially Mitchum and James Caan, who plays Mississippi, a young, knife-wielding hot-shot that joins Thornton and Harrah. Wayne is his usual self, but regardless of his acting talents, the chemistry and rapport between all three leads is undeniable (four, if we add Arthur Hunnicutt who is also a lot of fun as Harrah's deputy.) Christopher George is also pretty good as one of the main antagonists.

There are some tonal issues where the film goes almost full "slapstick" during a confrontation between Thornton and Harrah, and there are also some bits and pieces that haven't aged that well (Mississippi slapping a woman and threatening to hit her again only to end up in love later), but for the most part, I enjoyed the film. Even if it didn't blow my mind, it was a nice way to spend 2 hours.