Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB
USA, 1970. Carthay Continental. Story by Steven W. Carabatsos, Screenplay by Larry Cohen, Steven W. Carabatsos. Cinematography by Henri Persin. Produced by André De Toth. Music by Maurice Jarre. Production Design by Julio Molina. Costume Design by Tony Pueo. Film Editing by Walter Hannemann, William H. Ziegler.
Jim Brown plays a prisoner on a chain gang who sees his chance to escape and takes it, high-tailing it for the mountains away from where he has been doing hard labour in one of the most unlikely (and delightful) escape scenes you’ll ever see. He runs into gold prospector Lee Van Cleef and convinces him to join him on a quest to bring in more than just van Cleef’s usual dusty nuggets. The El Condor fortress stands in the middle of the desert and is rumoured to house all of Emperor Maximilian’s gold, which they could easily find their way into and steal for themselves. Knowing the castle to be heavily guarded by the impressive army of General Chavez, they put together their own band of Apache fighters and head for their target. Trouble comes when Brown gets a look at Marianna Hill as Chavez’s mistress, who immediately takes a liking to him and threatens to spoil their whole plot. There isn’t much to write home about in this standard western, John Guillermin’s direction can’t breathe new life into the genre but does ably put one foot in front of the other, allowing the two stars (who are usually supporting characters in other films) to enjoy their friendly chemistry and be dwarfed by some impressively beautiful scenery (and set design, the vastness of the El Condor complex is breathtaking). The action sequences are serviceable and the end result is wryly satisfying.