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Drama - Historic

Secret of the Incas (1954)

Could not resist this from the opening of the movie. See this extraordinary tram thing. It must have been a local transport system in 1954.
Duration1h 40m
RatingsUK: U, USA: Approved. Sweden: 15
Source of storyAn original screenplay
DirectorJerry Hopper
Writers/ScriptRanald MacDougall, Sydney Boehm
StarringCharlton Heston, Robert Young, Nicole Maurey, Thomas Mitchell, Yma Sumac, 
RatingsIMDb: 6.1 by 1226 people. Rotten Tomatoes: No reviews.

Elevator Pitch: Out in Peru Harry Steele is an adventurer acting as a part time travel guide and searching for the legendary Inca sunburst, a jewelled gold disc which it is said, if found, will restore the Inca nation. When  he meets a refugee, Elena, being chased by the Rumanian secret service, they get together to steel the Rumanian authority’s aircraft and make it to Machu Picchu, where they pal up with an archaeological expedition, particularly Elena with the chief archaeologist. Also on the track of the sunburst is Ed Morgan, an even more doubtful character than Harry. Harry helps the expedition discover a hidden chamber where the sunburst appears to be made from stone, but is that the end of it?

Content: Harry interacts with a variety of tourists down in the city, and when Elena arrives he helps her neutralise her pursuer. Most of the film then takes place on Machu Picchu with large numbers of native extras, all of them wearing traditional costume with unusual hats. Featured is the Peruvian singer Yma Sumac, as an archaeological assistant and singer of songs which illustrate her extraordinary five octave range. It looked to me as if there was some very static studio scenes as well as the Machu Picchu stuff, despite the advertising. There is romance within the limitations placed on American films in 1954 by the Production Code Administration.

A View: The limited number of people who rated this film on IMDb quite liked it but there was no Rotten Tomatoes review. But lets get it straight, this is a pretty turgid movie with a poorly written script based on the availability of the historic site – not quite so available today, documentary makers have to book their slots – and a lot of cheap extras. To attempt to provide a bit of drama the plot throws in a Rumanian vamp, with no back story, despite the fact that she is pursued by the authorities. So a view, for nothing (It is on YouTube) if you are interested in film history.

Additional Info: Said to be the inspiration for Indiana Jones, and it is true that Charlton Heston’s wardrobe is absolutely identical to that worn by Harrison Ford, right down to the shoulder bag and the revolver.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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