Jim Douglas has been relentlessly pursuing the four outlaws who murdered his wife, but finds them in jail about to be hanged. While he waits to witness their execution, they escape; and the... See full summary »
The gangster Colorado kidnaps Marshal McKenna. He believes that McKenna has seen a map which leads to a rich vein of gold in the mountains and forces him to show him the way. But they're not the only ones who're after the gold; soon they meet a group of "honorable" citizens and the cavalry crosses their way too - and that is even before they enter Indian territory. Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
Masochistic western...ridiculous, overblown, and generally miscast
In 1874 Arizona, a marshal is bushwhacked by an elderly Apache Indian chief carrying a treasure map detailing the whereabouts of a hidden valley of gold; upon the chief's demise, the marshal (who has memorized the map and destroyed it) becomes the prisoner/reluctant ally of a bloodthirsty outlaw and his men who want the gold all for themselves. Trimmed by Columbia Pictures before its release from a three-hour length down to just over two hours, "Mackenna's Gold" features a simple-minded narration by Victor Jory--ostensibly to fill us in on the bothersome story details--but the filmmakers needn't have gone to so much trouble, because their picture is a catastrophe anyway. The Super Panavision 70 vistas are breathtaking to behold (as are the roller-coaster point-of-view shots from the galloping horses), but the intermingled studio footage is an eyesore by comparison, and the film has some of the choppiest editing I've ever seen in a major motion picture. Worse, the strong cast of supporting players are mostly used for target practice, allowing maniacal killer Omar Sharif to practically own the film's entire second-half. Sharif is game but he isn't convincing, and his character Colorado falls prey to some glaring gaps of logic in Carl Foreman's messy screenplay. As the stalwart marshal, Gregory Peck looks understandably sheepish--not even two attractive females in the group rouse his excitement. The finale is a jaw-dropping display of effects, noise, and brutality, and it makes no more sense than the rest of the picture, yet interest is sustained (incredibly) and one is apt to feel they have witnessed something here. Something most definitely wrong-headed, but peculiarly intriguing nonetheless. ** from ****
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