Tuesday, April 5, 2011

El Dorado

For Day E of the A to Z Challenge I give you El Dorado, my favorite John Wayne movie. In it he plays a hired gun whose shooting hand goes numb sporadically. He encounters a young, knife-throwing James Caan (circa 1966) who joins him on a quest to help his sheriff friend, a drunk Robert Mitchum, defend his town against the bad guys.

Though I've seen all of the Duke's movies over the years, I'm not a die-hard fan. But this one is different. And it's different because of the supporting cast whose characters bear names like Mississippi (Caan), Bull (Arthur Hunnicutt) and J.P. Harrah (Mitchum). Then there's Edward Asner playing Bart Jason, the rancher stirring up all the trouble.

This calls to mind an article that Eric W. Trant wrote awhile back. In it he points out that sometimes it's the supporting character(s) you love the most. That's certainly true for me in El Dorado.

As Thornton and Mississippi hit the trail for J.P.'s town, El Dorado, Caan sits up high in his saddle and delivers a moving rendition of Edgar Allen Poes's poem:

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old,
This knight so bold,
And o'er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow;
"Shadow," said he,
"Where can it be,
This land of Eldorado?"

"Over the mountains
Of the moon,
Down the valley of the shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,"
The shade replied,--
"If you seek for Eldorado!"*

My favorite scenes in the movie are Caan's. He and Hunnicutt lend a twist of humor. Dean the pathos. And Wayne? He's the quintessential hero.

It's a movie I will watch most any time, though I rarely have the pleasure. Thank you, AMC, for playing it for me tonight.

~ Olivia J. Herrell

* El Dorado, by Edgar Allen Poe courtesy of POETS.org


Roland D. Yeomans said...

EL DORADO basically is a re-make of another John Wayne film, RIO BRAVO. Same basic story. But James Caan adds more depth than the similar character played by the much too young Ricky Nelson.

I like both movies, but, as with you, I think EL DORADO has more depth and character development than the earlier RIO BRAVO.

I have a soft spot in my heart for SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON and THE SEARCHERS.

Great post, Roland

dolorah said...

I'm pretty sure I've seen all The Duke's movies too, but not on purpose. There for a long while its all you could see on A&E during all the other channel's sports viewing.

Supporting characters can carry the story. I remember Eric's post. Thanks for linking it again.



Wonderful E post. loved it from start to finish.


Michelle Gregory said...

we like this one too, but then, we're John Wayne fans. i still like Rio Lobo better.

Laura M. Campbell said...

My favorite John Wayne movie is Hatari. Thanks for including the poem. Happy National Poetry Month! Good luck with the challenge!

A.T. Post said...

By gosh, Rebel...I think we were meant to find each other on the blogsphere. El Dorado is one of my very favorites, one of only two John Wayne movies I actually own. I like it for all the same reasons you do. James Caan throwing knives and getting knocked over by his own shotgun is always fun, and Robert Mitchum's recuperating drunk and Wayne's itinerant but disabled gunfighter really complete the mood.

I have a story to tell you. I was climbing into the airplane with my chief pilot JUST LAST WEEK. I looked at him and asked, in my best John Wayne impersonation "Are you ready to ride boldly ride?"

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