Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Mackenna's Gold - Movie Review

I convinced Anjali to watch this old classic with me to see how if it would hold her interest. We put it on, in the toughest part of the day, post-lunch, heat outside lulling you to sleep, and well, 'Mackenna's Gold' passed the acid test easily. We were up and awake right through.

The movie made so much sense now - its story and its history. The gold rush in the early nineteenth century, the Apache gold legend and human greed mesh to create a fine story. We have an ex-gold prospector turned Marshal Mackenna (Gregory Peck at his handsomest best) and we have the fabulous character of the joke-cracking Colorado (Omar Sharif) who is as slippery as an eel and at the same time as ruthless as they come. Mackenna's has the map in his head and is the only one who knows where the gold is and Colorado takes him hostage - with his band of Red Indian outlaws. They are joined by another band of gold prospectors, and chased by a cavalry. If that's not enough conflict you have romance between a girl hostage and Mackenna and a Red Indian girl who is possessive about Peck. It's adventure telling at its best, the vicissitudes of human nature exposed and a huge, thundering climax.

For once I wished I was back in the theatre watching this spectacle. Not for a moment did Anjali get distracted as the story plunges right in and stays there. Something about the theme music reminded me of Sholay's music, perhaps even the sense of adventure and mercenaries and danger reminded me of it. Quincy Jones composed music. The scale, the grandeur and the vastness of the plains and the desert are captured beautifully.

And once again the villain stands out for his quicksilver change of mind, his commitment to himself at any cost and for being so completely likeable for his honest dishonesty. Omar Sharif steals the show entirely. And interestingly is let off free at the end. No poetic justice for the crimes he committed - just a mild warning to keep out of Peck's way and that Peck will be coming after him. I for sure did not want to see Colorado die - he is too much of a character to kill just like that. 

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