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1970 - 102 minutes - Western

Lee Van Cleef.............................................Jaroo
Jim Brown...................................................Luke
Mariana Hill............................................Claudine
Patrick O'Neil...............................General Chavez
Iron Eyes Cody.......................................Santana

John Guillermin

"El Condor" is the story of an attempt by two men and a bedraggled band of Apaches to find and conquer an impregnable fortress containing a vast amount of gold.

General Chavez, one of the many powerful military leaders in Mexico following the American Civil War, declares himself to be neutral during a governmental power struggle. He announces that he is taking the gold from the Mexico City treasury to the fortress of El Condor for safety. In reality, the wily general is "sittng on the fence" and making sure that, no matter who wins the struggle for power, he will be in control of the gold and thus become the power behind the throne.

Luke, a chain gang prisoner in the post-Civil War West, is informed by a fellow prisoner, of the fortune in gold to be found in El Condor. Succeeding to make good his escape from the chain gang, Luke sets out to find the fortress and the treasure it contains.

With a rough plan of El Condor's location in the forbidding Mexican desert, Luke allies himself with Jaroo, a con-man and small time operator, who promises Luke 100 Apaches in exchange for half of the gold. Santana, chief of the Apaches, is approached by Jaroo and agrees to supply the men in return for arms and horses. Santana is not told about the gold.

Undismayed by his motley crew of ill-armed Apaches or by the devious wiles of Jaroo, Luke tracks across miles of desert, obsessed with the idea of finding and conquering the fortress and taking the treasure for himself.

Eventually, the fortress of El Condor is reached, and the real adventures of the intrepid travelers begin. Inside the fort, Chavez keeps his mistress, the beautiful but unscrupulous Claudine. Luke's open admiration for Claudine after he and Jaroo get inside the fort, results in Chavez having them staked out to be blinded under the merciless Mexican sun.

Escaping, Luke and Jaroo kill their guards, while others are amusing themselves by raping women in the local village. Using their victims' uniforms, they get back into the fortress and blow up the water tower. Chavez is forced to ask for a truce. Jaroo, sent to negotiate, double-crosses his partner by accepting one wagon-load of gold bars, horses and wagons for the Apaches and two hidden bars for himself. Luke refuses to compromise. He and Jaroo fight and then discover that Chavez has outsmarted them both; the wagon contains gold-coated bars made of lead.

Luke, who still likes Jaroo although he knows he is untrust-worthy, works out a new plan. The Apaches, with spiked boots scale the walls of El Condor at night. This is observed by Claudine, who not only does not give them away, but puts on a spectacular strip-tease show in her bedroom which distracts the guards and enables the invaders to surprise and kill them as they watch. The arsenal is blown up and the garrison is slaughtered as Chavez with a few soldiers, makes his escape. Claudine stays behind, having fallen in love with Luke's strength and daring.

Luke, Jaroo and the Apaches celebrate their victory in their own fashion. Luke and Claudine make love; Jaroo sits in the vaults brooding over the treasure, and the Apaches get drunk. Santana, who accidentally discovers the gold, is killed by Jaroo. The following morning, when the chief's body is found, the Apaches decide that all agreements are null and void. They ride out of El Condor with all the horses and wagons laden with rifles, ammunition and other loot. For once, the Indians come out on top.

Luke, Claudine and Jaroo find themselves in possession of El Condor and its treasure, but with no means of taking it away. Chavez returns with more troops and Luke walks out alone to meet him. In order to prevent further bloodshed, Luke and Chavez agree to a duel; Chavez, commanding the troops, will retire if he is defeated. They fight and Chavez is killed. Luke, badly wounded, goes back to El Condor, knowing that the time has come for a show-down with Jaroo, who is killed in the subsequent gunfight.

Triumphant, Luke seems unaware of the irony of the situation. He has captured the fortress which has obsessed him for so long, but he has also fallen in love with Claudine.