The great Howard Hawks‘ 1966 western, El Dorado has one of the great tough guy casts of the 1960s. Starring John Wayne, Robert Mitchum and James Caan, the film is a well crafted western with great turns from the three lead actors.
Wayne plays Cole Thornton, the gunfighter who comes to the town of El Dorado to help its drunken Sheriff J.P. Hara (Mitchum) take on an evil rancher.
The film is effectively a remake of Hawks’ 1959 film Rio Bravo, with Wayne essentially playing the same character. That film saw Dean Martin play a deputy with a drink problem, while and singer and actor Ricky Nelson took on the role of a young-upstart which is similar to Caan’s role in El Dorado. The film also served as a major inspiration for John Carpenter‘s Assault On Precinct 13.
Both Rio Bravo and El Dorado were co-written by the famed Leigh Brackett, the screenwriter and author who wrote The Big Sleep (1946), The Long Goodbye (1973) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
The western would be Howard Hawks’ penultimate film. His final feature was 1970’s Rio Lobo – another western starring Wayne and written by Brackett which shares similar themes and characters with El Dorado and Rio Bravo. Hawks would die in 1977 at the age of 81.
Released in 1966, El Dorado would gross $6 million at the US box office from a budget of $4.6 million.