Although it’s basically an uncredited remake of Hawks’ 1959 masterpiece Rio Bravo, El Dorado does deserve its share of praise. First off, the story and direction seem to be a lot tighter than they were in the earlier flick (and why shouldn’t they — everything becomes easier after the first time, right?). Second, it’s the only other time in cinema that John Wayne and Robert Mitchum (who really owns his part) were onscreen together (the first being The Longest Day in 1962). Third, say hello to a brilliant breakout performance by young James Caan as Alan Bourdillion “Mississippi” Traherne, and the great Christopher George as the sinister McLeod.
While this "Centennial Collection" edition might very well be the umpteenth release of El Dorado on DVD alone (it has been issued at least nine times before as a standard edition and in several John Wayne multi-packs), this version is definitely an improvement. The new High-Def 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentation has never looked better, with very little debris to distract the viewer whatsoever and a color schematic that is well-balanced.
Several other of Paramount's "Centennial Collection" titles featured new English 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtracks, but with the new El Dorado, we only have the original mono stereo (perhaps the eventual Blu-ray edition of the film will contain a new 5.1 mix? Please, Paramount?). As it stands, the original English track sounds fine and comes through nice and loud — especially when Mississippi fires that ol’ shotgun. Additional audio options include French and Spanish mono stereo (both of which sound rather tinny and muddled). Subtitles are available in English, French, and Spanish.
With a header like “Centennial Collection,” one grits their teeth hoping to their own sweet personal Jesus that there are some special features for once other than a damn trailer. Sure enough, there are — a whole extra disc’s worth in fact. But first, let’s go over the bonus features on Disc 1. The main feature contains two audio commentaries, the first with filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich. The second commentary is by film historian Richard Schickel with a little help from Ed Asner and author Todd McCarthy.