El Condor is Jim Brown and Lee Van Cleef in the wild west of Almeria with an army of Apaches in siege of a mountain fortress of Maximilian’s Mexican treasure with enough gun play, explosions, blood letting and body count for a Southeast Asian campaign. It is sex and violence, cowboys and Indians, and producer Andre De Toth and director John Guillermin have put it together with blood and guts and gusto.
Brown gets the gold, which turns out to be painted lead, and Mariana Hill who is very much the genuine article. Double-dealing, bush-wacking Van Cleef and dastardly-Mexican general Patrick O’Neal in turn get theirs from Brown in the end. At the fade-out, Brown stands with his one good arm around Hill amid heaps of gore-smeared bodies of Spanish extras and the smoking ruins of art director Julio Molina de Juanes impressive set of the fortress El Condor.
A final duel with O’Neal on horseback and Brown on foot, staged as a parallel to the man-on-horseback bullfighting earlier in the film, is unconvincing, in contrast to the other bloody action.
The fact remains that the influence of the made-in-Spain westerns has undeniably changed the ‘pure action’ format. The Hollywood movie myth of the American west was an extension of the chivalric tales where American Puritanism reigned. The Italian and Spanish have centuries of experience in how men holding guns on other men really act, and that more realistic view frequently, and paradoxically, comes across in the Almeria oaters.