Sunday, November 27, 2011

El Condor (1970)

Director: John Guillermin

Starring: Jim Brown, Lee Van Cleef, Patrick O'Neal, Marianna Hill, Iron Eyes Cody, Imogen Hassall, Elish Cook Jr, Gustavo Rojo

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They'll break through the fortress walls... or die trying!

Plot: Luke, an escaped convict, and Jaroo, a loner gold prospector, team up with a band of Apache Indians in 19th century Mexico to capture a large, heavily armed fortress for the millions -- or billions -- of dollars in gold that are rumored to be stored within.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Sure.


I thought this was a Spaghetti Western/Eurowestern since it was filmed in Spain and directed by a Brit but it turns out to be a US production. It very much feels like a Spag, though. So often in Westerns, Lee Van Cleef plays the steely-eyed badass with ice water running through his veins but in this picture he plays a tough guy with a sense of recklessness and playfulness. I really liked this side of him.

Jim Brown plays it like he almost always did, as a quiet badass who's always thinking about the job at hand.

There was a nice moment with Cleef's character, Jaroo, where he spends a little time with a kid after finding out from his mother that he's a bastard child, just like he was. It's a tender moment which really gives Jaroo some gravitas when it comes to what this guy is made of. Contrast that with the ending and that's where one of my two issues lie.

There's a surprising amount of nudity, much of it from Hill. It's rare to find a Western from this era that had it so it's always nice when it pops up.

I said it before with RED SUN (1971) and I'll keep saying it until stop watching his films altogether, I don't like composer Maurice Jarre all that much. He's had some good themes every once in a while but, like RED SUN, his one theme score hurts the film. It's annoying and silly. I don't like it at all.

The only other thing I don't dig on is the ending with Cleef's character. Jaroo suddenly reacts in a way that didn't seem fitting for his character, especially after how he treated the boy earlier in the picture. I guess the film makers felt like they had to have a duel between these to guys. It felt like it was out of nowhere and didn't pan out like I hoped it would. It just wasn't necessary.

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