The autumnal El Dorado is the penultimate film by Hollywood master Howard Hawks and, with the earlier Rio Bravo and the subsequent Rio Lobo, forms a trilogy of Westerns that center on male friendships forged under duress. In all three films, John Wayne is a gunfighter who must rally a small group against a band of villains. In El Dorado, he comes to the aid of an old friend who has become a small-town sheriff, played by Robert Mitchum. In contrast to Rio Bravo’s sunny and seemingly effortless fusion of humor and action, the violence here is more pointed and the comedy more raucous. An emphasis on pain, injury and aging imparts poignance to this late example of classical Hollywood filmmaking.