Thursday, November 25, 2010

El Condor (1970)


Excitement is in short supply throughout most of El Condor, a lurid south-of-the-border adventure costarring former NFL star Jim Brown and spaghetti-Western guy Lee Van Cleef. Apparently the fact that Brown’s modern persona was preposterously anachronistic in his previous Western, 100 Rifles (1969), wasn’t enough to deter producers from pairing him with Van Cleef, whose squinty toughness made him seem right at home in a long string of low-budget oaters. But given the loopy narrative of El Condor, credibility obviously wasn’t a priority. In the story, an escaped convict (Brown) and a crusty prospector (Van Cleef) persuade a band of Apache Indians to storm a castle in 19th-century Mexico, ostensibly for revolutionary purposes but really because the Anglos want to steal gold that’s hidden inside the castle. The buildup to the siege is quite dreary, because scenes establishing the buddy-movie dynamic include such unpleasant vignettes as a “comedy” bit of the heroes getting tarred and feathered. But the actual siege, which takes up the last half-hour of the movie, is trashy fun—shots of the invaders using handheld metal claws to climb the outer walls of the castle, à la Spider-Man, are awfully cool. The siege also includes a show-stopping scene with lovely ’60s/’70s starlet Marianna Hill, who holds an entire army in her thrall by disrobing in full view of the entire castle. B-movie icon Larry Cohen was one of the screenwriters, so his style of cheerful sensationalism is prevalent throughout the picture, and director John Guillermin contributes his usual elegant camerawork. (Available at WarnerArchive.com)

El Condor: FUNKY

1 comment:

Guy Callaway said...

Larry Cohen has said the producers had become disenchanted with their original script, but had already built the magnificent fort set (in Southern Spain), so he was hired to write an entirely new story featuring it.