El Dorado (1966)

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El Dorado is a 1966 American Western film produced and directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Wayne and Robert Mitchum. Written by Leigh Brackett and loosely based on the novel The Stars in Their Courses by Harry Brown, the film is about a gunfighter who comes to the aid of an old friend - a drunken sheriff struggling to defend a rancher and his family against another rancher trying to steal their water. The gunfighter and drunken sheriff are helped by an aging Indian fighter and a young gambler. The supporting cast features James Caan as the young gambler, Charlene Holt, Ed Asner, Paul Fix, Arthur Hunnicutt, Michele Carey and Christopher George.

El Dorado was filmed on location in Tucson, Arizona and Kanab, Utah and was shot in Technicolor. The paintings in the credits are by artist Olaf Wieghorst, who makes a brief appearance as Swede Larsen in the film. The musical score was composed by Nelson Riddle. Paramount Pictures delayed the release of the film in the United States to avoid competing against another Paramount film, Nevada Smith with Steve McQueen. The film was first released in Japan on December 17, 1966, and was finally released in the United States on June 7, 1967. The film received critical praise and was successful at the box office, generating North American rentals of $5,950,000 on box-office receipts of $12 million.

El Dorado is the second of three films directed by Hawks about a sheriff defending his office against belligerent outlaw elements in the town, after Rio Bravo (1959) and before Rio Lobo (1970), both also starring Wayne in approximately the same role. The plotlines of all three films are almost similar enough to qualify El Dorado and Rio Lobo as remakes. Dean Martin had portrayed the drunken deputy in Rio Bravo, preceding Mitchum in the part as a drunken sheriff, while Walter Brennan played the wild old man role later rendered by Arthur Hunnicutt, and Ricky Nelson appeared as a gunslinging newcomer similar to Caan in El Dorado.

Members of the Western Writers of America chose the film's theme as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time. Popular critic Roger Ebert gave the film a near-perfect rating at 3 1/2 out of four stars, stating "El Dorado is a tightly directed, humorous, altogether successful Western, turned out almost effortlessly, it would seem, by three old pros: John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and director Howard Hawks".

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