This was a Super panavision film released in 70mm wide screen, an action packed Western melodrama based on a folklore of the Ancient American Indians. MacKenna's Gold is a lavish film, and quite an entertaining one too. Shot in 1968, it boasts of some excellent color photography with wonderful panoramic visuals..
It had some of the biggest stars of those days like Gregory peck, Omar Sheriff , Telly Savales, Eli Wallaich, Anthony Gale, Camilla Sparv among a host of others...
MacKenna's Gold is the story of a group of people looking for a legendary valley of Gold and how the lure of gold corrupts . The opening song 'Old Turkey Buzzard ' which recurs through the film was sung by José Feliciano and was composed by Quincy Jones with lyrics by Freddie Douglas.
The film opens with a narration by Victor Jory about an Apache legend, about a hidden canyon, guarded by the Apache gods filled with gold. The legend goes on to tell that, as long as the Apaches kept the canyon a secret and never touched the gold, they would remain strong and powerful, and the Apaches guarded it against white men for centuries...
MacKenna ( Gregory peck) , a sympathetic Marshal helps the Old Apache chief, who is dying . The Apache chief gives him the map with the location of the Gold valley, but tells MacKenna that there was nothing there except dust. MacKenna however is curious to go and see the Gold valley for himself. He destroys the map that the Apache chief gave him before dying, having memorised the location. A Mexican bandit Colarado too is on the trail of the gold and he kidnaps Mckenna , thinking that he has the map.
There are many who are looking for this Valley of Gold including the Mexican bandit Colarado (Omar Sherieff) and his team, and there are others as well like the U.S cavalry and some Good citizens of the country as they call themselves.....
So the odd group comprising of people coming from different walks of life , after a lot of skirmishes with the Indians, who are constantly on their trail trying to prevent them from finding the place , set off to find the Gold..
This is a very enjoyable film, with some utterly funny yet, at the same time some cruel and barbaric scenes picturised on Omar Sheriff. He suits the role of a mexican bandit like no other. The scene where he sniffs the air and says that there are horses around is quite funny.
Gregory Peck is one of the Hollywood greats, and his performances and films have been very impressive. Here in this film, he is good, but frankly Omar Sheriff overshadows him in many scenes. It always happens when there is a powerful negative role in any film. The negative role always has more impact..
The most impressive thing about the film is the wonderful picturisation and some amazing aerial shots taken of Canyon de Chelly . It is fantastic, when you know that in 1968 they did not have any computer graphics or even the super sophisticated camera equipment that is available today. The photography is the best feature of the film.
Apparently, Clint Eastwood was offered the role of MacKenna originally , which he turned down, as it did not interest him, and then Gregory peck stepped in.
Actress Camilla Sparv has a romantic role opposite Gregory Peck, but, in a action film of this sort, there isn't much to do for the ladies..the other one being Julie Newmar as an Apache girl previously romantically involved with MacKenna, best remembered for her nude swimming scene in the film with Mackenna ( Gregory Peck ). She has the right kind of sultry , smoldering looks required for a vamp.
All in all an excellent film fantasy that is very entertaining and engrossing. I loved watching it as a kid and have watched it many number of times.