El Dorado: Centennial Collection – DVD Review

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I’ve always gotten a kick out of how people die in old Westerns. First, there’s no entry wound. Second, no blood unless they have dialogue after they’re shot. Third, they always grab the wound, make a pained face, and fall over. More than likely it was the censors of the day who refused to allow the types of graphic bullet wounds we are accustomed to today.

When it comes to Westerns, El Dorado is one of the classics. A film that epitomizes Western conventions and themes, El Dorado brings together the legendary John Wayne with another legendary Western director, Howard Hawks (Rio Bravo, which is pretty close to being the same movie as El Dorado; watch and compare!). Along with Wayne, the cast includes a young James Caan (The Godfather), Ed Asner (Up), and Robert Mitchum (Cape Fear).

Released in 1967, El Dorado is a must-see for anyone who loves classic Westerns. For those who feel Westerns are dull and lifeless, El Dorado offers plenty of laughable moments, both intended and unintended, that will keep non-Western lovers tuned-in.

As an added bonus, watch and listen for the following: 1) James Caan asking “Who’s the Swede?”; 2) A jump-cut during a gunfight on the streets (when you see it, you’ll know); 3) How many people get shot, the faces they make when they die, and at what points you actually see blood.

There’s a lot of great stuff here. It’s a quality Western that doesn’t try to say anything about humanity like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance does. It’s about loyalty, friendship, and following through with what you started. It truly is a metaphor for how we live in the late 1960s.

This Centennial Collection of El Dorado is loaded with extras. Ideal for the Western film neophyte or novice, these special features will further your love for the genre that just can’t seem to find its footing in Hollywood anymore (and yes, I know that 3:10 to Yuma, Appaloosa, and There Will Be Blood are exceptions to this statement).

Disc One

Commentary by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich (he didn’t direct El Dorado, but he knows a lot about the film).

Commentary by film critic and historian Richard Schickel, along with Ed Asner and author Todd McCarthy.

Disc Two

Ride, Boldly Ride: The Journey to El Dorado

A seven-part 41 minute featurette detailing how the film was made and the many aspects that were involved in creating the film. Interviews with film historians, critics, biographers, and others make this an interesting and well-researched behind-the-scenes documentary.

The Artist and the American West (1967) – Vintage Featurette

A look at the way painters and other artists have depicted the West over the decades.

Behind the Gates: A.C. Lyles Remembers John Wayne

Paramount Pictures producer A.C. Lyles reminisces about working with Wayne during his time at the studio.

Theatrical Trailer

Another classic trailer from the late 1960s. How could it be re-cut to attract a younger generation today?

Galleries

Lobby Cards and Production Stills used to promote the film.

El Dorado is a solid piece of American Western cinema, and a sure bet for fans of Westerns, classic movies, or film history.

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