John Guillerman’s “El Condor” is a noisy, violent, preposterous western of the variety that became extremely popular with studios in the Sixties (Richard Brooks’ “The Professionals” being the most accomplished example) often blending elements with the fading noir genre and expanding the seemingly pedestrian roots of the Western genre itself by also melding with familiar elements of adventure, war and caper films ; a reactive osmosis in no small part due to Hollywood’s paranoid suspicions that the extreme proliferation of westerns on television would erode the ticket buying audience’s appetite for new cinematic visions that mirrored what on television were becoming overly familiar genre tropes.
Jim Brown portrays Luke, a prison convict who is in the midst of filing through his leg irons while being regaled by an old man (a welcome Elisha Cook Jr. who permanently disappears within moments, a wasted opportunity by the filmmakers) with stories of the Mexican fortress El Condor which presumably contains billions of dollars in bullion; the gold resources of Emperor Maximilian. Rather conveniently, Luke encounters drifter Jacoo (Lee Van Cleef) who for no apparent reason he partners up with (the circumstances of both their meeting and immediate alliance make no sense except for the fact that both actors signed onto the project) to plan an attack on El Condor and abscond with the loot. Standing in the way of this enterprise are a large army of soldiers stationed at the fortress, led by the sadistic Mexican General (Is there any other kind in films such as this?) Chavez.
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