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January 31, 2009


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Ryland Walker Knight

First saw this one on a crummy VHS and all I can remember from back then is that it made me giddy. I should revisit all those old westerns my grandpa liked. Also, I should just spend more time with Hawks, period. Every time I watch one of his movies these days I get something great from it; and that something is something so different from whatever thing I got back in, wait for it, el día.


Ahem. It has come to my attention that this post isn't getting enough attention, she said, pushing crickets aside with her foot. So, El Dorado. This is an excellent post and I loved reading it. But El Dorado is still my least-favorite Hawks ever. I even prefer Tiger Shark, which I wrote about for the Early Hawks blogathon. Or Barbary Coast, for that matter. I really wish I saw what you see in this movie, Glenn, but I find it anemic, pat, rote, like a singer on a farewell tour coming out for one encore too many. Michele Carey is hopelessly modern in this Western, and so is Caan. And Mitchum is overacting his underacting, something that was a habit at this point in his career. Wayne is good, though. He was always good for Hawks.

Howard Hawks was a super-genius, but in the words of Wile E. Coyote, even a genius can have an off day.


After sleeping on this, and before you kill me, I wanted to add that it's a funny thing, looking at a less-brilliant Hawks, because one is comparing it to his best. If I were comparing this movie to other, less gifted filmmakers it's possible I'd be less hard on it. Although to be completely honest I would prefer the very, very Hawks-derivative The Sons of Katie Elder to El Dorado. But then again, Rio Bravo would crush both movies like an egg.

One more thing I do like about El Dorado: the palette, very much on display in your screen grabs. Everything has this beautiful amber tinge, like it's filmed through whiskey.

zerin hood

I just finished watching El Dorado again. I just love it - but I do get it mixed up with the Dean Martin/Ricky Nelson film at times, which I also enjoy. (Five Card Stud was also an early favorite of mine). I really enjoy the characters in El Dorado. Because the plot is so simple, there is time to just enjoy these old gunmen, the older Indian fighter, the young poet and the women in the film. I think the poetry is both out of place and yet integral to the feel of the film - in fact, the name of my blog comes from the poem in the film. I guess the poetry is just awkwardly done, but appropriate to the place and subject matter.
I especially like your scenes from the movie. I would also like to see the paintings that run at the film's beginning credits.

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