Luke (Jim Brown), an escaped chain-gang prisoner in the post-Civil War West, is told of a fortune in government gold hidden by a Mexican general in the fortress of ‘El Condor’.
Together with small-time conman and crusty prospector Jaroo (Lee Van Cleef) and Santana (Iron Eyes Cody), an Apache leader, he sets out into the Mexican desert in search of the elusive treasure.
The group spend days watching and waiting to discover the routine of the soldiers inside. But the Indians are restless and Jaroo is eager to begin . . .
One night, while Luke is sleeping, his treacherous partner leads the Apaches on a raid, giving away their presence to the wily General Chavez (Patrick O’Neal).
After being captured and tortured, Luke and Jaroo escape and – in a daring raid – destroy the fortress’s water supply. Then, with the Apaches, they sit and wait for the soldiers to die of thirst.
Eventually, driven by impatience, the determined bandits make their final devastating attack and the soldiers are defeated.
The victory is considerably aided by an impromptu striptease from Claudine (Marianna Hill), the General’s mistress, who has fallen for Luke’s dusky masculinity.
Director John Guillermin came unstuck with this Larry Cohen co-scripted western.
The Spanish-shot movie wears on its sleeve all the gruesome Cohen trademarks that would be used to chilling effect in 1974’s It’s Alive but contains none of the tongue-in-cheek humour that’s often the salvation of the European western.
As the protagonists, Lee Van Cleef and Jim Brown look good but have little of substance to work on, and a supporting cast that includes veteran Hollywood cowboy Elisha Cook Jr is wasted. The underrated Mariana Hill is, as ever, excellent, but the constant brutality and the excruciatingly slow pace make this very hard to enjoy.
Lee Van Cleef
Iron Eyes Cody
Elisha Cook Jr
Angel Del Pozo
Prison guard captain