deja vu, john wayne style

AMC is running some John Wayne movies this week. Last night, El Dorado (1966) was on the schedule. Tonight, it was Rio Bravo (1959). As serious Duke fans know, the two movies are so similar, it wouldn’t be wrong to call El Dorado a remake of Rio Bravo. The plots are very similar, and both films were directed by the late, great Howard Hawks. The differences between the two films is summed up pretty well in this exchange between Chili Palmer (John Travolta) and Bo Catlett (Delroy Lindo) from the movie Get Shorty.

Bo Catlett: You broke into my house, and I have a witness to it.

Chili Palmer: What?

Bo Catlett: Only this time it ain’t no John Wayne and Dean Martin shooting bad guys in El Dorado.

Chili Palmer: That was Rio Bravo. Robert Mitchum played the drunk in El Dorado. Dean Martin played the drunk in Rio Bravo. Basically, it was the same part. Now John Wayne, he did the same in both. He played John Wayne.

I like both films, but I was curious as to which one got a better reception. I checked review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Both got a 100% fresh rating. Neither film was listed on Metacritic, so I went to IMDb for the tie-breaker. On a scale of 1-10, Rio Bravo got an 8.0 (based on 30,655 votes), to El Dorado‘s 7.6 (based on 11.690). So there it is, Rio Bravo wins by a nose. I guess Dean Martin made a more believable drunk.

Here’s the trailer for Rio Bravo.

And for El Dorado


2 thoughts on “deja vu, john wayne style

  1. John D.:
    I like both flicks, and the DUKE is THE Duke.

    Rick Nelson pulls Rio Bravo down for me a bit, but Jimmy Caan does a nice job in El Dorado.
    Angie Dickenson makes up for Nelson.
    Gotta love Walter Brennan, though.
    Mitchum is the better actor compared to Martin, although both liked the drink…a lot.
    These movies, however similar were based on different stories, and that’s interesting to note.
    Stay safe.


    • Angie Dickenson can make up for just about anything. 🙂

      While based on different source material, Leigh Bracket, co-writer of El Dorado, wrote the screenplay for Rio Bravo. My guess is that Hawks chose him just so he could use El Dorado as a de facto remake.


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