Sometimes when the stars align and the cinema gods smile upon you, you see a film that defies all thought and reason. A film so bad, so bizarre that you’re not sure of your own sanity. “Mackenna’s Gold” is not a film. It is a Lovecraftian nightmare designed to push you to the edge of sanity. It is a picture so poorly crafted that it feels like it was made specifically for Mystery Science Theatre 3000. How else could you explain the poor editing, ridiculous shots, incomprehensible story, and this song? This movie goes beyond the description of “bad movie” and descends into the realm of the surreal.
“Mackenna’s Gold” tells the story of Sheriff Mackenna (Gregory Peck) a lawman who at the beginning of the film shoots an Apache chief. As the chief dies, he tells Mackenna about CURSED APACHE GOLD. Let me repeat that. The MacGuffin for this movie is CURSED APACHE GOLD.
Mackenna learns the location of the gold, but then a desperado named John Colorado (Omar Sharif…yes that Omar Sharif from Lawrence of Arabia) kidnaps Mackenna. Colorado is also seeking the CURSED APACHE GOLD and forces Mackenna to lead him to the treasure. The raiders of the CURSED APACHE GOLD set on the expedition while eluding the cavalry, and a band of Apaches who wish to protect their CURSED APACHE GOLD.
There’s so much I could list about what’s wrong with this picture. The story makes no sense. The editing is a mess. Halfway through production they switched from 65mm stock to 35mm stock that was blown up, so a lot of the shots are grainy and have bad color. I’ve watched student films with better green screen effects than this movie. And again this song.
Yet the most amazing thing about this movie is the cast. When I first saw the credits I couldn’t believe who was in it. If I told you there was a movie staring Gregory Peck, Omar Sharif, Eli Wallach, Burgess Meredith, and Edward G. Robinson you’d be right in thinking that had to be the greatest movie of all time. Yet it’s not. Wallach, Meredith, and Robinson are nothing more than glorified cameos, and Peck and Sharif have zero chemistry. Sharif is doing his best to play a Mexican bandit, which is problematic on so many levels, and Peck just looks miserable.
That all being said, I would strongly recommend this film to everyone. If you’re a fan of “The Room”, or “Trolls 2,” or any other film so bad it’s good this is definitely worth a watch. It’s a nice reminder that bad films have always been around, and they will always be around for us to make fun of.
For another Gregory Peck Western check out my review of “The Big Country.”