A Giant of a movie
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.
It mystified me why I had never seen this one. I clearly remember when it came out in theatres when I was a kid. After all the times it played on television over the years, I still didn't catch it. Now I think I know why. A western like this didn't have a chance with "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Wild Bunch" arriving the same year, and I was completely blown away by those revisionist tales. Today "Mackenna's Gold" seems like the western version of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" with an all-star cast after a canyon of Apache gold. Edward G. Robinson (in the Jimmy Durant role) is a hoot as the only person to have ever seen the gold. I kept waiting for him to say that the gold is buried "under a big W!"
A straight western drama with an awesome cast and interesting camera angles by the director. Peck was a little old for this part but he still makes it work. Sharif as a Mexican just doesn’t work but Neumar is very interesting as an Indian. The story eventually moves but the first half kind of drags.
Good fun treasure hunt and showcase of primal greed for most of its runtime (Omar Sharif is a welcome fountain of levity and roguish counterpoint to Gregory Peck's craggy stern untrusting demeanour) with some decent narration. This western *threatened* to derail entirely for me in the home stretch with the obligatory scuffle between the last few survivors of an Apache onslaught and the subsequent collapse of a canyon segment, if only because it seemed unusually antisocial and not quite uniform with everything that led up to it. It held together and didn't actually derail in the end due to crisp direction, but you get the idea I hope.
Another nitpick: the employ of several very prolific actors (including Eli…
I will never ever call Mackenna's Gold a good movie, because it has way too many flaws, but I can't say I didn't enjoy it. Most of the movie looks and plays like an old fashioned adventure western, which is already a bit unusual (and outdated) for a movie made in 1969, but then once in a while it goes bonkers with over the top acting, very odd editing, crazy angles and you start wondering if somebody was doing drugs on the set of this movie. These stylistic inconsistencies were either frustrating or fun, depending on the scene, but the real problem of the movie is that it needed a better, tighter script and a more efficient way to use such a golden (pun intended, I guess) cast.
Mackenna's Gold is just a regular cowboy with a lot of big name stars, until the end, which is really outstanding. Boy, is Omar Sharif greedy.