John Wayne Throwdown: Rio Bravo vs. El Dorado (50 year old spoilers)

For reasons that I don’t understand (probably money), John Wayne made the same movie twice. Rio Bravo in 1959 and El Dorado in 1966. The plot of both movies is: The Duke helps an old, drunken sheriff friend keep a bad guy in jail. The Duke is aided by a young gun slinging sidekick with a state nickname and a crusty old deputy.

My thoughts:
John Wayne’s character is the same in both movies. Push.
Drunken sheriff: Robert Mitchum (ED) has a slim edge over Dean Martin (RB).
Sidekick: James Caan’s (ED) Missippi character is funnier and more likeable than Ricky Nelson’s (RB) Colorado.
Crusty old deputy: Clear winner to Walter Brennan (RB) over Arthur Hunnicutt (ED) who although he was very good, he was no Walter Brennan.
Ladyfriend: I give the edge to Angie Dickinson (RB) over Charlene Holt (ED). Both were extremely sexy but Angie Dickinson is, well, Angie Dickinson.
Bad guy in prison: Again, very close but I’m going with Ed Asner over Claude Aikens.

The voters on IMDB apparently favor RB giving it 8/10 stars versus ED’s 7.6/10. I have to give the edge to ED, I’d give it 9 and RB 8.

What say you old time Dopers? Don’t get me started on Rio Lobo.

I like both films. I have to object: John doesn’t play the same character in both films.

In Rio Bravo, Wayne is a Sheriff. In El Dorado, Wayne is a gun for hire.

I think it’s a little creepy watching a young Angie Dickensen necking with a 52 year old Duke, but since I’m fast approaching 50, I reserve the right to change my attitude in the future.

I always questioned the decision to put pop stars in Wayne’s movies. Ricky Nelson, Glen Campbell etc.

The only 60’s Wayne movie I really like is Sons of Katie Elder. El Dorado was ok. War Wagon was terrible. True Grit good, but painful seeing a fat J. Wayne.

Mississippi: [examining J.P.'s leg after he’s been shot] I gotta cut this pant leg.
Sheriff J. P. Harrah: Well, go ahead and cut it! Have you got a kni…
[Mississippi pulls out his knife from its hiding place on his back]
Sheriff J. P. Harrah: A knife? Uh, I suppose I’ve asked this before, but just who?
[looks at Cole instead]
Sheriff J. P. Harrah: Who is he?
Cole: Tell him your name, Mississippi.
Mississippi: [sighs and looks up] Alan Bourdillion Trehearne.
Sheriff J. P. Harrah: Well, no wonder he carries a knife.

El Dorado in a walk. I never liked Walter Brennan much, except maybe in Support Your Local Sheriff!

Gotta go with Rio Bravo all the way. Mitchum & Caan are fun, but are hamming it up. Martin actually convinces more as the reformation case, and Nelson is the exact opposite of a young turk–playing things cool and close to the vest, something Caan would’ve been incapable of. Ricky’s not a great actor, but he delivers exactly what that character needs–there’s a reason Pat Wheeler (Ward Bond) has such confidence in him. Plus, he doesn’t get a love interest, which is a distraction for Mississippi in ED.

Plus, two perfect moments of brilliance that Dorado can’t touch: The flowerpot through the window, and “My Rifle, Pony, and Me.”

The wikipedia article mentions the similarity between these two films. There are plot spoilers!

Hawkes Sheriff trilogy never matched his Cavalry trilogy.

Probably because it was Ford’s Cavalry trilogy, not Hawks’.

oops… you’re right. So much for my memory.

El Dorado J. Wayne seemed more vulnerable. He got shot and partially paralyzed. The character has more dimension than usual.

I liked El Dorado better, mostly because I like James Caan and his character.

I love that Hawks revisited the story, giving Duke a chance to play both roles. I never thought of Wayne as an actor till I’d seen both. But while *El Dorado *is a good movie, Rio Bravo is one of the greatest movies of all time.

I like El Dorado better probably because I saw it first, give me a break I’m a young pup, but if nothing else Mississippi’s poetry beats out Colorado’s singing any day of the week.

RB for Walter Brennan. Walter alone takes it. Stumpy.

As alluded to in the OP, It actually was remade a third time in 1970, with Wayne as Wayne, Bill Williams (who?) as the sheriff, Jack Elam as the crusty deputy, Jennifer O’Neil as the young gunslinger, and Sherry Lansing as Wayne’s love interest.

There’s a Civil War subplot thrown in as well, but it’s really not important.

I have to soundly go with El Dorado. Wayne’s characterization was better, Caan was far better than Nelson, the sidekicks were a draw, the girlfriend was hotter (apologies to Angie, but it’s true) and, most surprisingly, Mitchum’s drunken performance was better and more engaging than Martin’s.

One of my favorite scenes is when it turns out Mississippi can’t shoot worth a hill of beans and they go to visit The Swede. The way he tells the story about how he came to own the scatter gun is priceless.

Paul Fix (played the doctor) is another reason I prefer El Dorado. He’s one of my favorite character actors. He was the Marshall in The Rifleman. Played the doctor in the Star Trek pilot. Fix was in a bunch of Wayne’s films. He always did a good job.

I heard a story (almost certainly apocryphal) about Wayne getting a call from Howard Hawks (who directed all three of the movies) asking if he’d read the script for Rio Lobo yet and Wayne reportedly responded something to the effect of “Why would I read it? I’ve already made the movie twice.”

I don’t think of EL DORADO as a remake of RIO BRAVO, I think of them as variations on a theme. (Way less successful was RIO LOBO, which reversed the roles: the bad guy is the sheriff holding one of Wayne’s friends hostage, and Wayne and company are the ones trying to break into the jail.)

But sticking to the first two: I think RIO BRAVO is a great film, totally likeable, and we watch it at least once a year just to enjoy. EL DORADO has more pain than RIO BRAVO, and more violence. There’s more emphasis on mortality, on aging, and on physical deterioration that comes with age. If you look at the scenes that are different (in EL but not in RIO), I think you’ll see that. The boy’s suicide, for example, has no parallel in RIO BRAVO; shot in the stomach, he kills himself because he can’t bear the pain. Similarly, Wayne’s physical disability (caused by a bullet against his spine) isn’t found in RIO BRAVO: he clutches his side after every physical activity; he collapses twice, totally helpless, partly paralyzed.

The level of pain and violence is much higher: For compare/contrast, consider the scene where Wayne hits a lying bad guy in the face with a gun – the violence level and pain in EL DORADO is way more extreme, it’s not just a whollop (with a rifle, not a gun), it’s a clearly supressed desire to kill. The bit where Wayne forces a gunman out through a door to face an ambush by shooting him in the shoulder and leg, has nothing comparable in RIO BRAVO.

Mitchum’s alcoholism is seen primarily as physical, where Dean Martin’s was psychological/spiritual. The cure for Mitchum’s alcoholism is a physical remedy (James Caan’s disgusting concoction) compared to the (much more realistic) self-will and spiritual growth for Dean Martin faces.

One mild clue: When Wayne first meets Maudie (Charlene Holt), she says that he helped her when her gambler-husband was killed: that was the story of Feathers (Angie Dickinson) in RIO BRAVO. I read that as saying that EL DORADO is basically RIO BRAVO ten years later, with the characters older and mortality more imminent.

One more point: at the end of EL DORADO, both Wayne and Mitchum are on crutches. Yes, it’s funny, but there’s a dark undertone to EL DORADO that’s absent in RIO BRAVO. I’m not saying it’s a dark film – to the contrary, the dark is well hidden under the action and humor. But it’s there, for sure.

It can be argued that this is just the trend in movies, towards more violence, but I don’t think that’s a sufficient explanation.

In a shallow male way, I’d like to say that El Dorado has Michele Carey in the cast and so it gets my vote. :smiley:

Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!