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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

El Dorado [Blu-ray]


(Howard Hawks, 1966)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Paramount Pictures

Video: Paramount



Region: FREE! (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:06:31.625

Disc Size: 45,410,415,574 bytes

Feature Size: 39,693,379,584 bytes

Video Bitrate: 36.98 Mbps

Chapters: 14

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: March 11th, 2014



Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



Dolby TrueHD Audio English 773 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 773 kbps / 16-bit (AC3 Embedded: 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB)
Dolby Digital Audio French 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB

Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / DN -4dB



English (SDH), French, Spanish, none



• Commentary by Peter Bogdanovich

• Commentary by Richard Schickel, Ed Asner and author Todd McCarthy

• Behind the Scenes: Ride Boldly Ride: The Journey to El Dorado (7 Chapters - 42:08)

• Vintage Featurette: The Artist and the American West (5:29)

• Behind the Gates:  A.C. Lyles Remembers John Wayne (5:34)

• Theatrical Trailer (3:08)





Description: Legendary producer-director Howard Hawks teams up with two legendary stars John Wayne and Robert Mitchum in a classic Western drama. Mitchum plays to perfection an alcoholic but gutsy sheriff who relentlessly battles the dark side of the Wild West - ruthless cattle barons and crooked businessmen. The Duke gives an equally adept performance as the sheriff's old friend one who knows his way around a gunfight. Featuring a supporting cast that includes James Caan Charlene Holt Paul Fix Ed Asner and Christopher George and filled with both brawling action and unexpected humor El Dorado is pure gold.



The Film:

Hawks' effortless Western gathers together a gunfighter, a drunken sheriff, a young hopeful, a couple of tough women, and sets them up in a jail, fighting for their lives against a cattle baron and his hired killers. Sounds familiar? In many ways the plot resembles Hawks' earlier Rio Bravo, and several of the themes are again present: the importance of group solidarity, self-respect, professionalism, and acceptance of others' faults. But the tone here is transformed by the emphasis on his two central heroes' infirmity: not only is Mitchum a drunk, but Wayne suffers badly from age and a gun wound. Seemingly a lazy, leisurely coast towards the final shootout, it is in fact an elegy on lost youth assuaged by friendship, moving from lush pastures to dusty township, from light to darkness. This is an old man's movie only in the sense that it deals with the problems of approaching the valley of death. In other words, it's a witty, exciting and deeply moving masterpiece.

Excerpt from Timeout located HERE

El Dorado is shot in Hawks' deceptively simple style, with the camera usually at eye level, but there are some exceptions. As Hawks explained, "People ask me why I had the shot in El Dorado of the man falling into the camera. Well, they don't know that I didn't have any set to work with; I had to do it that way." Hawks also shot a scene where Mitchum sings, but he cut it from the final print because Hawks' son saw it and said, "Dad, a sheriff shouldn't sing."

19-year-old Johnny Crawford, a former child star most famous for his role on television's The Rifleman, spent two weeks on El Dorado's Tucson location in October 1965. He found Hawks to be "a gentleman, very professional, a real class act." Many times, Crawford recalled, Hawks "didn't like the sky," which meant a lot of delays while waiting for the weather to change. John Wayne "wanted to go over the lines a lot, and he apologized profusely when he blew them several times." In their big scene together, Crawford noticed that Wayne was audibly out of breath when climbing up the rock where Crawford has fallen after being shot by Wayne. He'd recently had a lung removed but was still giving his all. As for Mitchum, "he was a real down-to-earth friendly guy" who "came on set when he wasn't needed, just to hang out."

Excerpt from TCM located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

El Dorado already available in Europe on Blu-ray (France HERE , Germany HERE and the UK HERE), and it lands in the US from Paramount.  While I don't own the lauded European BD - I have seen some captures - and suspect it is different than this one. I see plenty of over-processing here in low-frequency edge-enhancement - zoomed-in examples HERE and HERE. So here I have an issue - I get heck in email from people who have either greater, or lesser sensitivity to manipulation than I do. I try to be honest each time. This transfer has crossed my personal threshold for being distracting in the 1080P presentation. I found characters occasionally looking like cardboard cutouts and unnaturally flat with not enough texture. Yes, I have certainly seen worse and I'm sure there are plenty of individuals who aren't as bothered by the over-processed visuals as I am. What can I tell you? This is dual-layered with a max'ed out bitrate in the 1.78:1 aspect ratio. Colors look great and there is no noise. Daylight scenes can be most impressive. This Blu-ray video may satisfy some but those sensitive to EE will probably be cringing as much as I was. I will try to obtain the European release, which I presume is also region FREE, and do a full comparison.
















Audio :

Paramount use a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 channel at a paltry 773 kbps. There isn't much in the film to require an overly robust track. The great Nelson Riddle (composing in a variety of films such as Pal Joey, The Great Gatsby, The Naked City TV Series, Batman the Movie) scored the film which includes the El Dorado theme. It sounds decent if not particularly dynamic. I wouldn't be surprised if this means it is fairly authentic to the theatrical presentation. There are some standard Dolby foreign-language DUBs and subtitles offered on the region FREE disc BD playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.


Extras :

Supplements duplicate the two-disc Centennial Collection DVD from 2009 with the two commentaries; Peter Bogdanovich making an occasional comparison with Rio Bravo and filling the time with some stories. The second commentary, we get critic/film historian Richard Schickel, actor Ed Asner and author Todd McCarthy. It is mostly Schickel with adds from Asner and McCarthy. It has a lot about Howard Hawks and some production details. There is the extensive, 42-minute, 7-chapter Behind the Scenes: Ride Boldly Ride: The Journey to El Dorado with sections covering, and entitled The Paradigm of an Entertainer, Stealing from Himself, A Taciturn Man, Professional Courtesy, Spotlight – James Caan and The Duke, the Grey Fox and Pappy. There is also a 5.5 minute vintage featurette: The Artist and the American West showing soem of the beautiful artwork in the opening credits and of similar length we get A.C. Lyles Remembers The Duke. There is also a trailer.



Classic Hawks' western - even paced, a bit of humor and some tough hombres. Great climax. El Dorado is a must-see for fans of the genre.  My reservations on the Blu-ray image may not apply to so many but at least you can make up your own mind. I'll work on getting the European BD for comparison soon. My gut tells me it should be the same, but in seeing other captures on the web - I have my doubts. Stay tuned. 

Gary Tooze

February 22nd, 2013


About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
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Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

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Gary W. Tooze





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