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    Originally posted by dc65@Sep 14 2006, 09:45 AM
    My favourite line was when the Duke tells Ann-Margret that he has saddles older than her. If that isn't a great, truthful line, then I don't know what is.


    Yeah, at least is displays some refreshing honesty about Hollywood's age conventions.

    Robbie, that's true. In 1967, the Leone Westerns were hitting America for the first time and attracting a certain audience with their newfangled violence, amoral anti-heroism, and surrealistic nihilism. At the same time, there was another (more traditional) audience out there that sought comfort in such time-honored values as male bonding, communal protection, honor, optimism, and redemption. And by exquisitely fulfilling those values, El Dorado indeed proved comforting, as evidenced by its strong domestic theatrical rentals earnings of $6M.

    By 1966, some Hollywood Westerns, such as Duel at Diablo (Ralph Nelson, 1966) and The Appaloosa (Sidney J. Furie, 1966), were starting to reflect the bloodthirsty grimness then raging in European Westerns across the Atlantic. Howard Hawks and John Wayne, however, remained true to their values and continued to craft Westerns in the lighter, romantic mold that they believed in. We can be grateful for that decision, because the different types of Westerns across the spectrum are what makes the genre rich and multifaceted.

    ***SPOILERS*** for El Dorado

    I don't think that El Dorado (1967) is a terribly substantial film or a significant Western in the history of the genre. The movie is obviously derivative of director Howard Hawks' previous Western with John Wayne, Rio Bravo (1959), and its treatment of violence is lightweight, lacking the gravity of Hawks' austere and often grave Red River (1948). Surely, certain thematic explorations about the flippant resort to violence in the Old West and the mercenary nature of gunfighting go untapped in El Dorado. In a sense, Hawks was just coasting by this late point in his career.

    All that said, it's nearly undeniable that El Dorado makes for pleasant and enjoyable Western entertainment. Hawks' usual sense of pacing—fluid yet never rushed—is evident, as is his canny sense of comedy, his witty dialogue, his delightful sets and landscapes, and his richly drawn sense of character. The action set-pieces are nifty and nimble (if unrealistic), and the use of montage is striking and dramatic. Hawks' compositions also carry a certain sense of irony, placing characters in unexpected and compromising positions (an injured Wayne temporarily laid out in front of a door, a bathing Robert Mitchum embarrassed in the presence of attractive women going in-and-out of the sheriff's office). Best of all, the director takes his two great macho stars, Wayne and Mitchum, and renders them vulnerable. When Wayne eventually re-encounters the 48-year old Mitchum after some six or seven months on the trail, he finds a grubby, pathetic drunkard. Mitchum's face is unshaven, his hair is lank, plastered, and greasy, and his mind is desperately focused on alcohol and nothing else, so sorry are his sorrows over a woman who broke his heart. He isn't even properly clothed, wearing a filthy, dirt-stained undergarment over his sweaty torso, his sheriff's badge now serving as a tacky joke rather than a jewel of justice. He's a man who has basically washed away his life, his once noble position as the formerly respected sheriff of El Dorado, and his once feared reputation as an awesome gunslinger. Then you have the 58-year old Wayne, still a powerful and legendary gunfighter, but clearly vulnerable, too, toppling from his horse and complaining about a bullet that's lodged in his back and that periodically causes numbness in his hand and ultimately, temporary paralysis in his side. The Duke's paunch is thick and glaring and he looks slightly weary, a little wayworn if still a strong man to be respected.

    Together, these two straggling stars will rely on one another to succeed, subverting their machismo even as they affirm it in ironic ways. With villainy on the horizon, the focused Wayne arrives in town and begins the stumbling process of sobering up the disgraced and wallowing Mitchum. Eventually, through quite a bit of trial and error, Mitchum is warmed by the camaraderie of his old friend, and gradually, almost imperceptibly, he reverses course. Late in the film, we see Mitchum clean-shaven and wearing a flattering black hat and his sheriff's badge attached to a crisp, handsome maroon shirt. It's a startling epiphany, and yet one that had been coming for some time. As for Wayne, he's taken hostage late in the film and finds his shooting arm paralyzed, and yet still manages to use his savvy to outwit the opposition. Combined with a young sidekick, an old one, and a couple of Howard Hawks' typically pretty yet sporty women, these ill-fitting yet vigorous individuals rub each other the right way and use their brains and teamwork to best the brawnier villains.

    In a sense, it's classic Hawks, with male bonding and bantering women and triumphs against the odds. The characters are vulnerable and in varying sorts of pain, but they fit together as part of a cross-woven quilt to form the fabric of American society. Indeed, Hawks may not have been as self-consciously democratic as his rival John Ford, but his basic thrust represented the best of the American ideal. In his universe, El Dorado included, heterogeneous individuals bond together to compensate for personal and professional shortcomings, belie outward appearances, and form an unbroken circle of trust and mutual reliance. In the process, they overcome seemingly daunting odds, redeem one another, and protect their society from hostile, hegemonic, homogenous, and anti-democratic forces. El Dorado epitomizes all that and memorably captures Hawks' unfailing spirit, especially in its final shot, which shows Wayne and Mitchum limping down the street of El Dorado together, each wobbling with the help of a crutch, neither man omnipotent and yet neither man waylaid. Both men are suffering from bullet wounds, and yet both men are resilient and forever bantering. And so if El Dorado is not a significant or original Western, it can be forgiven, for it's entertaining and enlivening in the best democratic spirit that America has to offer. As one of the characters says, Hawks’ world revolves around an unpretentious "host of friends."


    Originally posted by Jay J. Foraker@Aug 18 2006, 03:17 PM
    Welcome joekiddlouischama - I would agree that "Bloodwork" was actually a pretty good movie. I'm glad you pointed out the noir aspects of the film - looking back, I would have to agree also.
    Hope you join us often.
    Cheers - Jay :D


    Thanks, Jay.

    And, yeah, I think that Bloodwork could be described as an "old man's noir."


    Originally posted by Colorado Bob@Aug 17 2006, 10:00 PM
    Hello JoeKiddLouisChama (what a screen name! You must be a Clint Eastwood / John Saxon fan). Just thought I'd say howdy and welcome to the message board. We're glad to have ya!
    Colorado Bob


    Thanks, I'm glad to be here.

    The Dead Pool (Buddy Van Horn, 1988) didn't flop, but it was a much smaller hit than the previous Dirty Harry movies, which had all finished in the top-ten. The Dead Pool, by contrast, finished at a solid but unspectacular 30th in domestic grosses among 1988's theatrical releases:

    And, yes, The Dead Pool fared much better than Bloodwork, which ranks 94th among 2002's releases in domestic gross:

    Although certainly not one of Eastwood's best, I thought that Bloodwork was a classy, atmospheric neo-noir of sorts. Basically, Eastwood did what the Duke did in The Shootist (Don Siegel, 1976), playing a tough, stubborn man struggling with the grave health problems and life quandaries that come with advanced age.

    McQueen didn't do much work in Westerns, unless you throw in his television series. Really, Paul Newman boasts a much more significant presence in Westerns (he starred in six compared to McQueen's three), as does Charles Bronson.

    Jimmy Stewart definitely deserves more recognition. In the 1950s, under the direction of Anthony Mann, he emerged as one of the Western's greatest stars.

    I didn't care for Campbell and Darby, both of whom I found grating, but True Grit's last act is thrilling. The pace quickens, the physical action comes to life, and Hathaway's direction is engaged. I don't see it as a great Western, but the pay-off is satisfying, the locations are seasonally sparkling, and the film is historically notable for giving Wayne his only Oscar.


    Originally posted by DukePilgrim@Jan 20 2006, 05:29 PM
    I always thought this movie was so so. It was the type of movie that started well but then either never picked up enough momentum or ran out of ideas before the end. As Pilar describes in her book it was like a family movie with all the familar faces from previous movies.

    I got the feeling that it was produced by Batjac on the cheap so it was guaranteed to make money but you got the feeling that it was more like a tv movie.


    The Undefeated (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1969) reminds me of quite a few of Wayne's later films in the sense that it features an intriguing premise but gradually winds up running in mud. I enjoy the idea of the Blue and Gray having to reconcile after the Civil War in order to pursue a joint venture, hence proving that America as a whole is "undefeated." Indeed, I appreciate the film's inspiring title, its rousing musical score by Hugo Montenegro, the narrative set-up, and the enticing star pairing of the earthy, indomitable Wayne and the suave, genteel Rock Hudson. However, the film never makes anything out of this "starter's kit" of engaging elements. The writing is banal and cliched, the direction is hackneyed and slack, and the acting outside of the stars and a few of the veteran character actors is flat. These kinds of films need a little depth to be resonant and some tension to be compelling, and The Undefeated, like several other late Wayne movies, is lacking in those areas. From a technical or cinematic perspective, it's also pretty quotidian.

    In short, it seems as if everyone involved in the production knew that they just needed to showcase Wayne's charismatic persona in order for the movie to be a hit, so that's where the focus resided. Whereas John Ford and Howard Hawks in their respective primes were concerned with making artistically rigorous films, a movie like The Undefeated is a mere commercial product in which aesthetic concerns appear irrelevant. It's no coincidence that most of Wayne's best late movies (True Grit, The Cowboys, The Shootist) were helmed by notable directors, men like Henry Hathaway, Mark Rydell, and Don Siegel. It was that added directorial vigor that elevated the material beyond meandering entertainment.


    I thought this was a good fun movie, and very enjoyable. ...
    Reviewers, found the film, not spectacular., but a crisp diversion,
    with some amusing moments.

    That's a smart way of putting it.

    I'll post a couple questions here:

    1) According to the Internet Movie Database, El Dorado debuted in Japan in December 1966, six months before it premiered in America in June 1967.

    Is that true, and if so, why?

    2) It seems as if the daytime shots of and in "El Dorado" occurred in a different place from the nighttime sequences, which comprise the majority of the film and, frankly, appear to have been shot on the studio back-lot. Has anyone else noticed that?

    I think that Robbie's analysis is spot-on, to the point where I'll just echo his comments. The banter between Wayne and Hepburn is memorable and the wilderness scenery is majestic, but the direction is flat and stilted, the script is dull and simplistic, the camerawork is static, and the acting aside from Wayne and Hepburn is largely banal. Thankfully, Wayne would finish on a more engaging note with The Shootist (Don Siegel, 1976).

    The Cowboys (Mark Rydell, 1972) is definitely one of Wayne's best and most solidly developed late Westerns. We discuss the film (and its potential political implications) in great detail here:

    Also, does anyone know if John Ford made any contributions to the picture? Check out the following photographs:

    The Train Robbers (Burt Kennedy, 1973) is mildly entertaining and lightly enjoyable, and I certainly prefer it to Rooster Cogburn (Stuart Millar, 1975). However, it's also slight and simplistic, and it needed a richer writer-director than Burt Kennedy to bring out greater depths and darkness, the kind of intricacy and tension that could have made the film something more than disposable entertainment. I didn't feel that Kennedy set up the bizarre, comically ambiguous "twist' ending with appropriate development, either. On the brighter side, Wayne's performance is quite sharp and fluid, really marking an alert groove. I love the silent rage the he suddenly displays at the end of Ann-Margaret's drunken diatribe.

    I also think that Wayne offers his best, most complex and intricate performance, more understated than Ethan Edwards in The Searchers and Tom Dunson in Red River (which are powerful performances in their own right), but highly underrated for that reason. To quote myself about the Duke's character in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence:

    Tom Doniphon may be Wayne's most complex character, tough, unafraid, and impeccably competent, but weary, fatalistic, melancholic, and ultimately depressed, self-destructive, and tragic. I don't think that he's "cocky" at all. In fact, from the second that he arrives on screen, we know that he's a forlorn figure, and most striking of all, we can sense that he knows it, too. As such a rugged, independent Westerner, he just doesn't quite have what it takes to succeed in romance, especially when compared to an articulate Eastern lawyer and future senator like Ranse Stoddard. Ultimately, Doniphon's stubborn, gritty, and autonomous brand of masculinity does him in.

    I think that Cahill U.S. Marshal (Andrew V. McLaglen, 1973) is a bit underrated. Many film fans don't like the sort of Disney quality that comes with a story focused on children, but the moral dilemmas are engaging and the theme of generational fracture is relevant and vital, for that time and for all times. I'm sure that many troubled fathers and sons can relate to it. It may not be a truly significant movie, and the filmmaking is probably mediocre at best, but it's worth viewing, and George Kennedy makes for a memorably menacing villain.