El Condor (film)

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El Condor
El Condor FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Guillermin
Screenplay by Larry Cohen
Steven Carabatsos
Story bySteven Carabatsos
Produced by André De Toth
Starring Jim Brown
Lee Van Cleef
Patrick O'Neal
Marianna Hill
Iron Eyes Cody
CinematographyHenri Persin
Edited by Walter Hannemann
William H. Ziegler
Music by Maurice Jarre
Distributed by National General Pictures
Release date
  • September 23, 1970 (1970-09-23)
Running time
102 minutes
CountryUnited States

El Condor is a 1970 American Western film directed by John Guillermin. [1]


Jim Brown and Lee Van Cleef lead a band of Apaches (including Iron Eyes Cody) against a fortress commanded by Patrick O'Neal. The fortress is said to contain the gold reserves of Emperor Maximilian.

The movie was shot in 35mm Technicolor in Almería, Spain, and involved the construction of the huge adobe fortress set that was re-used in later films, including Conan the Barbarian (1982) and March or Die (1977).

El Condor was among the first movies rated R (for violence, explicit language, and nudity).


In 1860s Mexico, Luke, an escaped convict, and Jaroo, a loner gold prospector who is not very bright, team up with a band of Apache Indians to capture a heavily armed fortress for the thousands of gold bars said to be stored within. The fortress is commanded by the sadistic Chavez, whose mistress, Claudine, Luke becomes attracted to the moment he sees her.


Jim Brown Luke
Lee Van Cleef Jaroo
Patrick O'Neal Chavez
Marianna Hill Claudine
Iron Eyes Cody Santana
Imogen Hassall Dolores
Elisha Cook Jr. Old Convict


The film was financed by National General, who in October 1968 announced they had purchased Steve Carabatsos' original script and would make the film the following March. [2] Filming was pushed back; in April 1969 National General announced the movie as part of a slate of 13 films they would make, costing $35 million in all. John Guillermin was attached to direct. [3]

The studio had recently made a film called Daddy's Gone A-Hunting based on a script by Larry Cohen. Cohen says the studio decided to make the movie, built a fort and town in Almeria, Spain, then decided they disliked the script; they paid Cohen to travel to Spain and write a new film around the existing sets. Cohen wrote a script they were happy with, and Jim Brown and Lee Van Cleef were cast. According to Cohen, Van Cleef then changed his mind about doing the film on the advice of Alberto Grimaldi who said the actor's character was ridiculous; Cohen persuaded van Cleef to do it, arguing it was a comic role along the lines of Humphrey Bogart's character in The African Queen. [4]

The casting of the two leads was announced in July 1969. [5]

Filming started in October 1969. [6] Swedish actor Ewa Aulin, who had been in Candy was originally meant to play the female lead. However she quit the film, refusing to film nude scenes. [7] She was replaced by Mariana Hill who said she would go nude: "If it's done well". [8]

Cohen says that director John Guillermin and producer Andre de Toth did not get along, in part because the latter wanted to direct. According to Cohen, de Toth took over from the director on his previous movie ( Play Dirty ) and wanted to do the same thing again. The conflict resulted in Guillermin and de Toth having a fistfight. [4]

VHS and DVD releases

The movie was released on a fullscreen VHS in 1994, and a widescreen DVD by Warner Archive in 2009.

Critical reaction

Roger Ebert's review of August 27, 1970 in the Chicago Sun-Times began: "Lee Van Cleef's last words in El Condor are, 'What am I doing here?' Amen, brother".

See also

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  1. Vagg, Stephen (November 17, 2020). "John Guillermin: Action Man". Filmink.
  2. 'Harper Valley' Film Set Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times (16 Oct 1968: h20.
  3. National General Schedules 13 Films Los Angeles Times 26 Apr 1969: b8.
  4. 1 2 Doyle, Michael (2016). Larry Cohen The Stuff of Gods and Monsters. Bear Manor Media. pp. 77–81 of 690 (kindle).
  5. Catching Up on Old, New Haunts Haber, Joyce. Los Angeles Times 23 July 1969: c13.
  6. 'Bankroll' Casts Arlene Dahl Martin, Betty. Los Angeles Times 10 Oct 1969: h17.
  7. Actress walks out over nude scenes, The Irish Times 16 Oct 1969: 7.
  8. Mariana Hill Keeps Her Cool With Jim Brown. Johnson, Patricia. Los Angeles Times, 8 Feb 1970: q16.