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 Post subject: Re: Secret of the Incas
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 2:13 am 
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Yupp, heard that too and I feel it's a damn shame. Yes, there are lots of troll, which as I've mentioned before is one of the reasons this place was created - to discuss Heston's life and career without idiots who didn't agree with his politics interrupting trolling the board. Still, I used it quite often when I wanted to see discussions on various movies and topics.

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 Post subject: Re: Secret of the Incas
PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 1:43 pm 
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I posted virtually every day from 2007- 2011, but the trolls killed all the fun for me.

By the way, my friend in New York, hobnob53, recently "bumped" my post on the IMDb SECRET OF THE INCAS board in which I gave away a bit of publicity to this site, Thorn.


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 Post subject: Re: Secret of the Incas
PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 1:30 pm 
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Charlton Heston's Adventure Film Legacy
By Walter Bosley
January 2008
When I was a kid, my father took our family to the drive-in movie theater about
every weekend. I grew up on horror, sci-fi and adventure movies, and those three
genres remain my favorite. Hands down, among my biggest heroes were 'Taylor'
from 'Planet of the Apes' (1968) and 'Neville' from 'The Omega Man'. As I got
older and saw more movies, I discovered several more great characters portrayed
by that inimitable actor who brought my movie heroes to life, Charlton Heston.

Whether it was 'Touch of Evil', 'The Naked Jungle', or 'The Mountain Men', I
noticed that, aside from the epics Heston may be more remembered for, here is an
actor who brings something to his roles that makes them memorable and worthy of
multiple viewings. In a lifetime of heroic good-guy roles big and small, all
masterfully realized, Heston may surprisingly be at his best when he is playing a
tough cynical bastard. This is the persona I believe goes neglected when looking
back at Heston's career. It is in one of these great less-than-perfect men he was
playing that the actor has established his legacy in adventure cinema.

In 1981, Paramount Pictures released the most successful adventure film of all time,
'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. Starring Harrison Ford as the iconic Indiana Jones, the
film took audiences by storm and has spawned one of the most successful film series
ever produced. Over the years, much has been written and celebrated about this
truly classic -from-the-day-it-opened film and main character, and the film's
influences have been noted. It's rather obvious that the Indiana Jones films are
inspired by the old adventure serials of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, as well as greats such
as 'Gunga Din', 'The Treasure of the Sierra Madre', and 'Casablanca', among
others.

It has been said that two movies in particular were alleged to have been watched by
the cast and crew of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. Those films were 'China' (1943)
starring Alan Ladd; and a little known archeology drama that was released by
Paramount Pictures in 1954: 'Secret of the Incas', starring Charlton Heston in the
role that would prove creatively precognitive of the greatest adventure movie hero
of all time.

Most fans of Indiana Jones have likely never heard of this film, unless they are
familiar with the consummate Indy fan site, TheRaider.net, which was, heretofore,
likely the only source of the information on Incas, aside from spare comments in the
special features of the Indiana Jones series' DVD release. But once you see 'Secret of
the Incas', you'll be amazed at how much of it pops up in the entire Indiana Jones
trilogy.

Let's start with Heston's character, Harry Steele, a cynical fortune hunter who is
carefully hunting clues to the location of an ancient Inca treasure hidden somewhere
among the ruins of Machu Picchu. Steele makes a living as a rather unscrupulous
tour guide in Cuzco, Peru. Having been to this great old city, I am thrilled every
time I watch the film because it has not changed in over fifty years. When Steele
learns that an expedition has found an ancient stone map missing a piece that he
secretly possesses, he sneaks an opportunity to fit his piece onto the map and thus
identify the location of the treasure he seeks: the solid gold 'Sunburst' idol. Steele
needs a way to get to Machu Piccu and that comes with the arrival of Elena, an
illegal immigrant trying to avoid deportation back behind the Iron Curtain. Steele is
naturally interested in the woman because she's attractive, but his priorities are
riches. He learns the man searching for her has his own plane, so Steele goes to the
phone and tells the man Elena is in Cuzco!

Lest you think Steele is a complete jerk, you soon see that he wrests the plane from
the man and brings Elena along to help her get across another border. He just wants
to use the plane first to get to Machu Piccu. They fly most of the way, ditch the
plane, then hike the remainder of the trail to the ancient Inca city, where they meet
up with the areheological team, led by Robert Young. Convincing the expedition
leader that they need to hang around until fuel for their ditched plane arrives, Steele
gets time to poke around in the ruins while Elena diverts Young's attention. What
Steele doesn't know until too late is that his greedy friend Morgan has followed him
and a struggle for the Sunburst treasure ensues. In the end, Steele sees his friend
die from greed that made him threaten Steele's life and realizes his own desires were
leading him down a similarly tragic road. Steele gives the solid gold 'Sunburst' over
to the archeologists who return it to the surviving Incas.

Archeology drama more than action-packed adventure, sure. But the legacy is to be
found in the imagery and a few key scenes. First, there is Steele himself, wearing
khaki clothing and a leather 'A2' flying jacket nearly identical to that worn by
Indiana Jones twenty-seven years later. Most remarkably similar is the brown
fedora Steele wears, and that he, too, carries a revolver by choice in an era of the
automatic. Add a fortune-hunting attitude, a willingness to get rough when he has
to, and beard stubble, and Harry Steele is looking an awful lot like a source of
inspiration.

Costuming is not where the similarities end, either. Take Steele's friend Morgan,
who is also hungry for fortune. Morgan double-crosses Steele in the end and they
end up struggling with the prized treasure over a cliff. Morgan loses his life, falling
hundreds of feet to his death, all because his greed for gold. This scene is nearly
identically played out between Indy and llsa in 'Indiana Jones and The Last
Crusade', with Indy trying to save her while she reaches for the Holy Grail, only to
fall to her death into a deep chasm.

Any Indy fan will delight in other oddly familiar moments pointed out by Mike
French on Raider.net, such as Steele and Elena aboard a yellow rubber raft on a
jungle river, as Indy, Willie and Short Round duplicate much more actively in
'Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom'. There is also a somewhat romantic
moment between Steele and Elena in their campsite one night, reminiscent of
another scene in 'Temple of Doom'. Once Steele and Elena reach the ruins of the
Inca city, they explore tombs with an aura similar to many caverns and tombs
throughout the Indiana Jones trilogy, but especially Raiders. French writes: "At one
point in the Him, Harry even uses a light reflection trick to make a discovery, much
like the Map Room scene from 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'." French also points out that
Steele is not an archaeologist. He is much closer to the grave robbers encountered
by young Indy in 'Last Crusade'. These similarities and more make Charlton
Heston's 'Harry Steele' the best contender for the inspiration of Indiana Jones than
any other character in adventure cinema.

What I noticed when seeking a copy of this film is how truly difficult it remains to
be found. I had to buy a copy from an associate who copied it from a television
showing. It's a surprisingly good copy, but why isn't this film available on home
video? One can go to any retail outlet of DVDs and find the most atrociously bad
movies available, yet amid the awful, forgettable titles committed to DVD and shelf
space, 'Secret of the Incas' is nowhere to be found. It begs the question why?

Is it possible that Paramount is suppressing its release?

I contacted Paramount Pictures for information on 'Secret of the Incas'. Directed to
the legal department, I was assisted by the research manager, Karen Magid and her
office. They explained that anything related to a picture dating that far back (1954)
would be archived at an offsite location, but they would be more than happy to
provide me with some production stills, lobby cards or any script copies. Now I was
getting somewhere!

While I waited for Paramount, I was fortunate enough to obtain an interview with
Fraser Heston, producer, director and son of Charlton.

WB: Did your father enjoy working in Peru on this film?

Fraser Heston: Absolutely. He and my mother scrambled all over Machu Piccu and
Cuzco and gave me a real thirst for such adventures. Many years later, I followed in
their footsteps and spent a month on the Amazon, culminating in a voyage on the
Ucayali River and a climb up Huayna Pichu, above the ruined city.**

WB: Does your father acknowledge the more-than-passing resemblance between
'Harry Steele' and ' Indiana Jones' (fedora, leather jacket, archeological treasure
hunting, action sequences nearly identical to those in 'Incas', etc)?

FH: Justly so. He was the original (image inspiration), or at least one of them. My
mother Lydia , however, was the real Indiana Jones, dragging us all up the Great
Pyramids in Egypt and through the jungles of the Yucatan and along Hadrian's
Wall , and through every museum in between. We called it 'Ruin Running' and
'Museum Marching'.**

WB: In the early years of his career, your dad seemed to have fun playing guys who
were kind of hardened jerks-with-integrity whom you couldn't help but really like.
By the time he played Taylor , he was iconic, yet Harry Steele was one of his best of
these types of characters. Who were his influences, especially when playing a guy
like Steele?

FH: Good Question. Certainly archetypes of hard-nosed male heroes from
Hemingway, Stephen Crane, Jack London etc. were influences - but it was a
common enough character in film scripts of the 50s and 60s. In real life he is a gentle
and good humored fellow, very self deprecating and with a marvelous and very
ready smile - so in fact that was all good acting!**

WB: How does your father regard 'Secret of the Incas'?

FH: I think he looks at it as a sort of classic B-Movie - the best example of this type
being, perhaps, the film he made with Orson Welles, 'Touch Of Evil'. But he got a
real kick out of 'Secret of the Incas', too - not to mention the remarkable Yma Sumac
and her eight octave range. 'The Naked Jungle', another South American jungle
adventure which Chuck starred in was an adaptation of the wonderful story,
"Linengen Versus the Ants" by Carl Stephenson, in which he threw perfume on
Eleanor Parker and also uttered the immortal words: "It's awful quiet in the jungle
tonight... Yeah, too quiet!""

WB: Your father's work in Biblical epics and related documentaries are well-
known. Was he personally interested in archeology when he made 'Secret of the
Incas'?

FH: I'm sure he was - he has always been a great reader of history and an
enthusiastic ruin-runner. Perhaps in part from the influence of films like this one!"

WB: What are your father's favorite classic adventure films? His favorite
adventure authors?

FH: Robert Louis Stephenson. 'Treasure Island' was the first book he read to me as
a small boy - I got him to read it over and over, about ten times, I think, and it
became my favorite as well. We had the pleasure of making a 'Treasure Island' film
together for Ted Turner's TNT cable network - with me as director and
screenwriter, and Chuck as Long John Silver, Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins,
Oliver Reed as Billy Bones, Christopher Lee as Blind Pew . We filmed in England
and Jamaica, aboard the HMS "Bounty", a real working square-rigged sailing ship
Ted had acquired from MGM, as I recall. Working with my dad was a wonderful
experience I will never forget.

'As for other films, certainly Hemingway adaptations like 'The Old Man and The
Sea' with Spencer Tracey, whom he admired greatly; and 'For Whom the Bell Tolls'
with Gary Cooper (with whom he worked on another adventure classic, 'The Wreck of
The Mary Deare'); 'The Wild Bunch' directed by Sam Peckinpah, (for whom he
worked on 'Major Dundee'); and 'Lawrence of Arabia' . His favorite authors are
Hemingway, Shakespeare (a great adventure writer, after all) Crane, London, Ray
Bradbury (science fiction is surely the ultimate adventure); Patrick O'Brian (author
of the Jack Aubrey series) who became his personal friend and whom he regarded
as our finest living novelist/

Following the enlightening discussion with Fraser Heston, I did some further
investigation at a museum of history in Hollywood, but multiple requests for contact
turned up nothing. Some time after that, I finally heard from Paramount Pictures.

The letter I received stated that the studio possesses no production files, stills,
scripts or any other such material for 'Secret of the Incas' anywhere in its archival
files. As far as the studio was concerned, the research was at a dead end. The first
search I had conducted was also the last. I went to the internet and did my best, but
all I found were references to the film's cast and plot, and very little in the way of
graphics that I could use. It seems that the only preservation of this film will be the
copies shared among fans, for if Paramount Pictures maintains nothing, that
precludes any re-issue of the film in a DVD or other home viewing format. An
unfortunate fate for such an important cinematic influence.
However, if the memory of 'Secret of the Incas' continues on in the imagery of one of
the greatest adventure film series of all time, then it and Charlton Heston's film
legacy surely will as well.

- Walter Bosley


Last edited by James Byrne on Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:03 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Secret of the Incas
PostPosted: Wed Mar 01, 2017 8:14 pm 
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James Byrne wrote:
I posted virtually every day from 2007- 2011, but the trolls killed all the fun for me.

By the way, my friend in New York, hobnob53, recently "bumped" my post on the IMDb SECRET OF THE INCAS board in which I gave away a bit of publicity to this site, Thorn.

That was nice of him. I've been to IMDb several times these last few days and find myself trying to reach the forum of whatever it is I'm looking into (movies, actors). Such a bummer it is no longer there.

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 Post subject: Re: Secret of the Incas
PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 3:21 pm 
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Thorn
I miss the IMDb forum very much. They made a huge mistake getting rid of it, in my opinion.

Can't wait for the new book on Charlton Heston by Marc Elliot ... it should be out in a few weeks. I hope Marc hasn't avoided Heston's early movies, like Jeff Rovin did for THE FILMS OF CHARLTON HESTON. Rovin wrote titchy little comments on SECRET OF THE INCAS and RUBY GENTRY, etc. but went overboard on THE NAKED JUNGLE, just because he is a sci-fi nut. George Pal produced that great movie.

Have you ordered your copy of the new Chuck book yet, Thorn?


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 Post subject: Re: Secret of the Incas
PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:42 am 
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James Byrne wrote:
Thorn
I miss the IMDb forum very much. They made a huge mistake getting rid of it, in my opinion.

Can't wait for the new book on Charlton Heston by Marc Eliot ... it should be out in a few weeks. I hope Marc hasn't avoided Heston's early movies, like Jeff Rovin did for THE FILMS OF CHARLTON HESTON. Rovin wrote titchy little comments on SECRET OF THE INCAS and RUBY GENTRY, etc. but went overboard on THE NAKED JUNGLE, just because he is a sci-fi nut. George Pal produced that great movie.

Have you ordered your copy of the new Chuck book yet, Thorn?


Marc Eliot's book on Heston was on sale yesterday and Fraser Heston read it and quickly wrote a review. The book sounds mouth-watering!

Marc Eliot’s extraordinary new biography, Charlton Heston, Hollywood’s Last Icon, is clearly the definitive work on my father’s remarkable life and times. With unprecedented access to the Charlton Heston Archives, his personal papers, journals and correspondence, extensive interviews with family, friends and colleagues, and my mother’s huge collection of her own photos––many of them never-before-seen––Eliot has crafted a meticulously researched, eminently readable and compelling portrait. My father’s was a rich, rewarding and complex life, dedicated to his art, his family and to public service, in which he achieved not only the pinnacle of his profession but a significant role on the nation’s political stage. There are a lot of great stories in this book even I had not heard before. If you think you knew my father, think again, and read this book!

Eliot also happens to be a damn good writer––this book reads more like a novel than a biography––and like me, you won’t be able to put it down.


This reviewer, Ryan Vlastelica, reckons that Eliot gives too much space to Heston's early films ... but I beg to differ. I've just took a peek at the index on an Amazon preview and SECRET OF THE INCAS only gets a mention on pages 76 and 103, which really disappoints me.

http://www.avclub.com/review/neither-ch ... s-f-250652

In the opening lines of Charlton Heston: Hollywood’s Last Icon, the biographer Marc Eliot references the notorious moment when Heston, the movie-star-turned-NRA president, thundered that the government could take his rifle “from my cold, dead hands.” Starting here is a plea on Eliot’s part. “There was so much more to Heston’s life than a single exclamation,” he writes. The episode “does not, by any stretch of the imagination, define who Charlton Heston was, all that he had accomplished in his extraordinary life, what made him tick as an artist and drove him as a man.”

Eliot is right that no life can be fairly reduced to a single moment (though surely anyone reading a Heston biography is aware the man was more than just those five words). But Icon fails to deliver the kind of complex portrait that intro promises. The book’s subject is a hugely important figure, but Eliot mostly avoids the things that make Heston historically notable. And what he does cover, he offers a surface-level look, brushing past contradictions and offering irrelevant tidbits instead of meaningful insights.

Despite the book’s subtitle, the thesis of which isn’t really explored or argued for, have any of Hollywood’s biggest stars retained less of a fan base than Heston? He’s hardly obscure, but now he’s mostly known for biblical epics, a genre that’s fallen out of favor; Planet Of The Apes and Soylent Green, still watched but decidedly camp; and Touch Of Evil, a masterpiece where his casting (as a Mexican man) is widely seen as the film’s biggest flaw. Unique among screen icons, he’s more interesting for his politics than his work or “story,” which presents obvious hurdles for a biography. His personal life seemed blissfully devoid of drama; he married young and happily (and was surprisingly shy growing up, faking a girlfriend by wearing a bracelet with a made-up girl’s initials on it), and he played it safe with the movies he made. Knowing that audiences liked him in heroic roles and historical epics, he gravitated toward those until he aged out of them, with a few excursions to the stage to play the same roles on multiple occasions. While undeniably charismatic, and able to command attention on huge canvases (something you can’t say of more nuanced actors), he lacked the kind of big personality that typified such collaborators as DeMille and Welles. He was such a square, Eliot quotes someone as saying, that he could’ve fallen out of a cubic womb.

This lack of conflict would be tricky for any writer, but Eliot too obviously stretches for drama, trying to make points land in the moment at the expense of a more cohesive take. At one point, noting a tapering of Heston’s popularity, he writes that, “A descending career line after relatively early success is not unusual in Hollywood... diminishing returns is the norm in an industry where youth is its most sellable commodity.” Ten pages later, the hit Midway “helped reaffirm [Heston’s] place in Hollywood’s hierarchy of stars with staying power.” He argues that Heston lost parts because of his right-wing beliefs, while at the same time noting he was too old to play them, while also mentioning the lifetime achievement awards he was being honored with.

There’s a sense that Eliot is simply going through the motions, that—having written bios of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, and a dozen others—he was simply casting about for another manly man rather than driven by a genuine interest in his subject. The book is filled with unnecessary details, like when Heston is named one of the top 25 stars of the year and Eliot includes every preceding name. It’s as though his research is used to obscure a lack of insight, sometimes in perversely hilarious ways. At one point, a footnote explains that Star Wars, “later retitled Star Wars: Episode IV—A New Hope,” benefited from the post-Apes sci-fi boom and that “both films became long-running franchises.” Who knew?

Eliot shows little editorial judgment, giving something revealing, like Heston’s civil rights activism, the same attention and space as his obscure movies. At one point, he glides past an open letter where Heston calls for greater gun control in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s and Robert F. Kennedy’s assassinations. Far too much time is spent on his movie career, especially since few of his lesser-known films seem worthy of rediscovery. Even fans might find it a slog to wade through endless deep cuts, and this focus is especially unforgivable since it means Heston only gets involved with the NRA with about 50 pages left.

Honestly, this subject should fill a volume on its own. Icon draws a credible line from Heston—who campaigned for pro-gun candidates, drew huge crowds, and wanted to be sent to close races—to the NRA’s current power, but Eliot isn’t interested in the result of one of the most consequential political trends of the past 50 years. He simply parrots comments from Wayne LaPierre and Heston’s son Fraser (“I don’t think he made a mistake supporting them, but maybe it went a little further than it should have.”), stepping back from any deeper analysis or context. A similar issue hampered a recent biography of George Lucas, but the stakes are obviously higher here, literally life and death.

It’s understandable that Eliot wants readers to see the whole of his subject’s life, and that essentially holding Heston responsible for the rate of gun violence (which has been in a long-term decline) is a charge that shouldn’t be levied lightly. But his reporting on this issue is wholly inadequate, especially since he implies that Heston’s involvement was due to his wanting to be back in front of cheering crowds at a time when his career was waning, the “cold, dead hands” line a catchphrase no different than “let my people go” in delighting audiences. Plenty of biographies find poignancy in their subjects wanting to remain relevant, but given the real-world impact Heston’s advocacy had, it is an abdication of duty for Eliot to avoid digging deeper.


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 Post subject: Re: Secret of the Incas
PostPosted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:56 pm 
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Well, with that glowing review by Fraser, this is a MUST own! I was afraid he was going to do something similar to what he did with his book on Jimmy Stewart. I'm glad that's not the case.

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 Post subject: Re: Secret of the Incas
PostPosted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:39 pm 
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Eliot seems to have gone the other way with the Heston biography; one reviewer states that the book is hagiographic in content!

I have loads of books on James Stewart, but never bought the controversial Eliot one which implies that Stewart was a racist. I can't stand reading tripe like that, and last week at a bookstall I refused to buy his book on Cary Grant, even though it was only 50p, because I suspected it would contain all that ridiculous nonsense about him and Randolph Scott being homosexual. Who on earth wants to read junk like that?

When Heston became the Prez of the NRA, and after that obese ogre Michael Moore made that mockumentary , Heston had his good character assassinated daily in the media, and some even accused of Chuck of being a racist.


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 Post subject: Re: Secret of the Incas
PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:43 pm 
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I had a particularly exhausting day at work yesterday and was looking forward to a relaxing night in and watching a movie. I arrived home, and to my joy, Marc Eliot's book on Charlton Heston had arrived from Amazon, which I had pre-ordered months ago. After a quick shower and an evening meal I settled down to read the book and reached chapter 18 before going to bed. It's a great read, but I was quite alarmed that Heston's birthday is incorrectly given as 23 October 1923!

Also, as I suspected, Heston's early films aren't discussed in any depth, particularly SECRET OF THE INCAS, which is probably given the least space, which irked me. But, apart from that, fans of Heston will really enjoy this latest book on Mr Epic, and Eliot is to be congratulated on a fine effort.

I will give a fuller review when I've finished the book, Thorn.


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 Post subject: Re: Secret of the Incas
PostPosted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:58 am 
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https://jeffcovey.net/2017/02/25/secret-of-the-incas/

On 25 February 2017, Jeff Covey wrote this blog on SECRET OF THE INCAS, after walking the Inca Trail. He is particularly disrespectful to the amazing voice of Yma Sumac.

While reading about Machu Picchu, I learned of an American movie that was shot there in 1954. It looked to me like any other of the flood of exotic adventure pictures that poured out of the 50s. This one’s stayed just above the brim of obscurity because it became the template for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and the whole Indiana Jones series.

I wanted to see the footage of Peru and thought it might make a passable evening and take Al back to his movie usher days. I didn’t expect it to be quite so… good. I expected a B movie and got an A- instead. Well, an A–.

THE BAD

Let’s first acknowledge that it does meet several 1950s adventure movie expectations:

The Hero and Heroine heroically overcome their complete lack of romance to be (I guess?) in love by Act Two.
The production hired 500 local people in traditional garb and used them only as scenery, to provide a Noble Savage background to the action.
Act Three was stuffed with musical numbers which bent time and space until they lasted twice as long as the rest of the movie.
The musical interruptions are especially egregious. The obvious place to insert the requisite song would have been at a Cusco nightclub before the scene shifts to the jungle. The producers instead capitalized on the current popularity of Yma Sumac, a singer better known for sideshow vocal tricks than artistry. She mugs for the camera in faux Inca rituals indistinguishable from Hollywood versions of native songs from Nepal or the South Pacific while the white cast stands around talking about how quaint it all is.

The music backing her is as bizarre as her performance. I guess it would take another 30 years for Zamfir to invade cable TV and alert the world to the soundtrack potential of the pan flute. In the meantime, the composer punctuates each phrase with Chinese gongs before wandering through Arabian harems to reach Indian snake charmers on the way to Generically Foreign.

At least Sumac, playing one of only two Inca characters with speaking roles, is Peruvian. Her brother’s an Australian actor in redface. Neither can decide whether they’re the proud descendants of a noble race or sheepish inferiors who have to beg permission from outsiders to interact with their own cultural heritage. I cringed each time they bowed and scraped to Robert Young’s lead archeologist (named, if I recall correctly, Dr. Great White Father).

All of this is to be expected from the time it was made. The real disappointment is that the exterior photography doesn’t look better. They got to shoot a movie at Machu Picchu, and it looks dark and washed-out. It should have been a CinemaScope wonder; the spectacle alone would have filled the seats. Maybe a restoration could bring it to life. Even as it is, though, it captured the last chance to see the site before it became a teeming hive of tourists. And it’s awesome to see Charlton Heston walking the same Cusco squares I walked 63 years later, and to watch a truck drive down the street where I stayed.

THE GOOD

The writing and acting are far better than I had any right to expect. The characters are smart, and their banter lively:

Hero’s friend: You ought to stay away from that crud.

Hero: I like being around Morgan, he makes me feel honest.

Hero: Any particular reason you left La Paz?

Heroine: Police. No visible means of support.

Hero: They need glasses.

Government official: Welcome, the entire city is yours.

Heroine: Thank you, I’ll take it with me when we leave.

I’ve never gotten the appeal of Charlton Heston, but he’s well cast here as Harry Steele, silver-tongued tour guide and hustler. He’s sharp, clever, and competent. For the 50s, the boldness of the sexual innuendo is startling as he schedules private services for his middle-aged customers while their husbands are napping.

Thomas Mitchell is at his best. He oozes quiet menace as the friend who smiles to your face as he slips the knife in your back.

A former President of the University of Cusco is credited as a consultant, and the script stays more or less historically accurate by not saying much about history. It just uses the Inca and the Andes as a backdrop to send the characters after a fictional solid gold MacGuffin.

There is one throwaway line that jumps out. Steele describes Machu Picchu as “An ancient city of the Incas, lost for over a thousand years…”, which would mean it was lost about 500 years before it was built.

THE LEGACY

I sat down expecting to suffer through some dreadful melodrama to get to the location shots and instead had a great time. The cast commits and turns out a much better entertainment than its Saturday matinee needs required. With judicious use of the fast forward button in the last 45 minutes, it makes a fine picture in its own right.

Today, though, it’s remembered for what it inspired. It formed the bridge from Hiram Bingham to Indiana Jones. From the second he steps on the screen, you know Heston’s the visual inspiration for Jones. But in character, he’s closer to another lovable rogue who trades his lust for gold to reveal a heart of gold.

George Lucas knew this movie backward and forward and lifted chunks of it straight into RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. I don’t think I’m reading too much into initials here. When an old man sends the heroine to a cantina to hire a pilot to smuggle her out of the country because she’s being chased by an oppressive regime… It’s not a lot of parsecs from Harry Steele to Han Solo.

If you’re intrigued, you’re in luck! The whole thing is just one click away on YouTube.


Here is a photo of Jeff Covey, the guy who thinks Yma Sumac ruins SECRET OF THE INCAS, on the Inca Trail https://jeffcovey.net/2017/02/04/21st-c ... ntermezzo/

A month later, Carolina Miranda, a Peruvian lady who writes for the Los Angeles Times, thinks Yma Sumac is the Bees Knees. https://www.pressreader.com/usa/los-ang ... 9046957470


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