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Drama - Historic

Kings of the Sun (1963)

Duration1h 50m
RatingsUK: U, USA: Approved, Ukraine: 12
Source of storyAn original screenplay
DirectorJ. Lee Thompson
Writers/ScriptElliot Sarnold, James R. Webb
StarringYul Brynner, George Chakiris, Shirley Anne Field, Richard Basehart, Brad Dexter, Barry Morse, James Coburn 
RatingsIMDb: 6.2/10 by 1888 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: Not rated. Review2view: 3/10.

Elevator Pitch: Mayan king Balam and his entourage escape the attack of another native group armed with metal blades, and he decides that they will sail across the ocean, picking up a bunch of coastal dwellers including their princess and escaping in their boats. They land on the coast of what is now America and make their home there. But they have settled on the lands of some Native Americans led by Chief Black Eagle. Black Eagle, on a reconnaissance mission is injured and captured by the Mayas, but is nursed back to health by Princess Ixchel. They are attracted, impeding the romantic intentions of King Balam. When it seems that Black Eagle is to be sacrificed to the Mayan gods it will take Balam to save him.

Content: There is no sex or nudity, although Yule Brynner spends most of the film exhibiting his well oiled torso. The Mayans are seen carrying out a sacrifice, to the distaste of King Balam, with background narration by James Coburn. When they get to the beach there is an altercation with the local headman, but nevertheless nearly everybody gets into the boats and they sail away. Once having arrived in the promised land they build a new village. After Black Eagle is captured he spends a lot of time talking to Ixchel. Fortunately everybody speaks the same language, but unfortunately in stilted tones.

A View: I watched this because I wanted to see how Hollywood had portrayed the Mayans – badly as it turned out. You might wonder then Yule is going to appear, but he does eventually, accompanied by a score which is reminiscent of The Magnificent Seven. I felt sorry for all the quite well known actors disguised in Mayan headdresses and Shirley Anne Field – don’t get me started. So this was an awful film. Give it a miss.

Further Hollywood epics which have done a bit better: 55 Days in Peking, Spartacus, El Cid .  

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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