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This film was the Indiana Jones of the fifties. I cannot recall much of the film except remembering Jean Paul in the cave during the final scene and he battles the condor and the roof of the cave comes crashing down. This was an exciting picture and I remember wishing that I could see it again but poverty prevented me from doing so. It was a thrilling film- from the beginning to the end. Its really amazing how, although it was filmed without the modern gadgetry and the computer, we were entertained with some of the finest films of which this was one. I wish I could see it again and show my children that after fifty years, the only thing that has invaded our screen is the lack of real heroism and the glorification of sex.
Here is some trivia on "Treasure of the Golden Condor" (which is by the way a remake of Fox's "Son of Fury". It's by now a well-known fact that Otto Preminger directed some retakes on that film. That was indicated to me by producer Paul Buck, on the set of Preminger's film "Rosebud". (Buck was also Peter O'Toole's producing partner).Preminger had mentioned it to me earlier, in Paris. He did not remember the title, but gave me enough indications to find out that it was "Teasure of the Golden Condor". He said at that time that he only worked on one short scene "dealing with a snake" (of which he was terribly afraid). The extent of Preminger's contribution however is not clearly established, as Buck seemed to indicate that it went a bit further than just one day.
The movie was broadcast this afternoon on french TV (France 3). Never heard about it before. The action takes place half in a fake Hollywood France of the "XVIIIème siècle", half on location in the real beauty of Guatemala. Delmer Daves is for sure a professional entertainer (see "Broken Arrow"), and the movie follows the best tradition of US (almost B) movies in costume, like Fritz Lang masterpiece "Moonfleet". The typography of the production credits and cast is great (in the "Drums Along the Mohawk" style, though inferior), the colors amazing, and the scenes shot in the ruins and landscapes in Guatemala - with the locals Indians - are truly beautiful. The political message against "money for money" and for freedom (Jean-Paul, the hero, is a "slave" in the French society of that time) is naive but OK. Cornel Wilde is a strange actor, but not as bad as I fear. He's good in action scenes, and can be stirring when the camera is close to his virile face. Not that sexy, but he is "un bel homme" as old French ladies would say. He and Delmer Daves must have been very proud of his great body : he's half naked twice (in 1953!), and not just a second. Anne Bancroft was a débutante, but she's very courageous in her part, a bitchy and cynic Marquise. The only problem is Constance Smith. Because she is not Debra Paget, the incredible actress of "Das Indische Grabmal". She is so not pithy, and that's a thousand pities.
Ultimate douchebag the Marquis de St. Malo (George Macready) locates his dead brother's son and forces him into a life of servitude. The boy grows up to become Cornel Wilde and runs off to find treasure. Routine costumer is a remake of Son of Fury, which starred Tyrone Power. That was a better film. This one's kind of dull. Wilde is fine, as is Macready as the villain. Fay Wray plays Macready's wife and I almost didn't recognize her. This was her first film in over a decade. This is also an early role for a very pretty Anne Bancroft. Despite how it seems early on in the film, she won't be Wilde's love interest. That honor goes to Constance Smith. Ernest Borgnine has a bit part. Robert Blake play a stable boy...badly. Not a terrible film to pass a little time with if you see it on TV, but nothing to go out of your way for.
The location of the injustice is changed from 18th century Great
Britain to 18th century France and the treasure is emeralds and not
pearls found now in Guatemala instead of the South Seas. But the plot
of Treasure Of The Golden Condor is easily recognizable as that of
Tyrone Power's Son Of Fury. Cornel Wilde who was another of those
standbys for Power in both their times at 20th Century Fox in the
Forties when Zanuck's favorite star was otherwise occupied stands in
well for Power when Zanuck decided to remake the film.
The story is that of a man deemed illegitimate because no proof of a marriage can be found and disinherited from title and lands by a cruel and avaricious uncle George MacReady. George Sanders played the uncle in the original and both Sanders and MacReady were first rate cads.
The women in Wilde's life are Constance Smith the daughter of Finlay Currie his partner in fortune hunting and Anne Bancroft whose got a yen buzzing for her cousin Wilde. Bancroft in her third feature film is MacReady's daughter, she's quite the vixen.
Wilde was always one of the best action adventure stars of his days, but he never got to the top tier level. Instead of going to television as so many of his contemporaries did he went into production of his own films that usually played as B pictures. In terms of quality they varied greatly. This film is an opportunity to see him at his swashbuckling best as he was one of the best at the fencing game. He was a member of the 1936 US Olympic team.
In the supporting cast note Leo G. Carroll as the lawyer who aides Wilde in proving his lineage, a sincere but cynical performance. Also Fay Wray as MacReady's wife, a most unhappy woman. Just married to George MacReady is reason enough.
Cornel Wilde's fans should be pleased. Technicolor as well.
I had high hopes sitting down to watch Treasure of the Golden Condor, thinking that it might have been an inspiration for the Indiana Jones films. George Macready got the film off to a rousing start with his subtle yet vicious machinations, which he applied with aplomb throughout. Had the editing, directing and other actors been up to his level, the film could have been great, but I found it to be a shameless ripoff of the 1942 film, Son of Fury, starring Tyrone Power and George Saunders. In fact, it is a virtual line by line aping of the first film, with the tired recipe of switching out one exotic locale for another, and adding color. (If any of you readers ever saw that old Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedy film in which their movie studio is always shooting the same scene over and over, even the dialogue is identical, and only the uniforms of the bad guys changes, then you know what I mean! If not, the fact that such an old memory pops up over Goldon Condor...) Perhaps I am biased because I was taken aback 10 minutes into the film, with a deja vu broadside on my cranium, but I decided that as long as they top the first film, well, OK. Macready gets honorable mention, but come on, who could top Saunders as a villain? The color and cinematography were a plus, but in every other aspect, this film is an atrocious disappointment. Anne Bancroft's take on the calculating Comtesse de Malo was fine, but too brief; I think the cutting room floor has taken most of the nuance from her relationship with Cornell Wilde. The whole movie ended up no better than a go-through-the-motions remake.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The opening credits state that the Guatemalan natives appear in their
own authentic native costumes and rituals, but somehow I found that
suspect, particularly for 1953. Maybe so, but I have my doubts.
The picture is alternately colorful and drab, and even though Cornel Wilde cuts a dashing figure as the adult Jean-Paul, he doesn't exude much charisma. There are a couple of beefcake shots of the actor offered for the viewing pleasure of the ladies, and back in the day it might have caused a swoon or two.
The Technicolor format chosen for the picture does it justice when it comes to the native dance scenes and the tropical Guatemalan countryside. The story of a stolen inheritance and Jean-Paul's reclaiming and then rejecting it is moderately interesting, but it takes some time to get there. The sequence in the cave with the python is actually rather dumb when you think about it. Old MacDougal (Finlay Currie) throws a machete at it and misses by a mile, followed by Jean-Paul's torch which also fails to find it's mark. It seemed rather pointless to me. This may have been a draw in the early Fifties, but then again, I have my doubts about that too.
I absolutely loved this film as a child. When I watched it again after
60 years it was even better than I remembered. Instead of the phony
Polynesians of the earlier adaptation of the original novel Benjamin
Blake (Son of Fury with Tyrone Power) the acting is excellent, and the
story, reset in France prior to theRevolution makes great social
comments on the excesses of the aristocracy and their vile treatment of
lower classes, it includes a serious interest in science and
This is definitely worth seeing. The photography is great, and the scenes of actual inhabitants of Central America in their rituals and dancing made it ring.
Cornel Wilde was perfectly fine in the role. And the old Scotsman added interest and wisdom.
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