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LGM Film Club, Part 180: El Condor

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Like many of us, I enjoy a good spaghetti western. Not just the Leone ones, though they are the superior brand. But the Django series, Sabata, The Big Gundown, etc. There are actually quite a few pretty good movies made in this way, if you can handle some of the conventions of the genre. But when these went bad, they went very bad. One of the worst I’ve ever seen is El Condor, with Jim Brown, Lee Van Cleef, and Iron Eyes Cody. This atrocity has no meaningful plot, none of the characters have any motivation for what they do, and a nonsensical script. Jim Brown’s character starts off as a slave (the film is evidently set in the 1860s, as Juarez’s army kicking out the French comes up at the end, but who knows if that was even remotely intentional), escapes, but then there’s nothing about this at all in the film. It’s just a device to put Jim Brown in the film. Lee Van Cleef did many things well, but here he is cast as someone who is comically stupid and it does not work. At all. He’s terrible at this. And then the use of Iron Eyes Cody, i.e., Espera Oscar de Corti, an Italian guy from Louisiana, is just racist. I know that Cody has a lot of goodwill from a certain generation because of the Crying Indian ad. But the version of “Indian” played here is hardly any different than a John Ford film. They are still silly savages in redface speaking nonsense. Just because there is a countercultural element here doesn’t make it less racist, a critique I would make about much of the way that Native peoples were portrayed in American life in the late 60s and 70s.

This is a crappy film.

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