Secret of the Incas (1954)

100-101 mins | Adventure | June 1954

Director:

Jerry Hopper

Producer:

Mel Epstein

Cinematographer:

Lionel Lindon

Editor:

Eda Warren

Production Designers:

Hal Pereira, Tambi Larsen

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Legend of the Inca and Legend of the Incas . Opening credits conclude with the following written statement: “In the high Andes of Peru—where much of this picture was filmed—the descendants of the Inca have searched for centuries for the symbol of their past glories—a fabulous golden disc encrusted with jewels—there are others—who search—but only for gold.” As noted in news items and publicity materials, the picture was shot largely in Cuzco and Machu Picchu, Peru, and marked the first time that a major Hollywood studio filmed there. Five hundred Indians were used as extras in the film, according to publicity materials.
       According to a Jun 1953 LAT item, Wendell Corey and Viveca Lindfors were originally set to star in the picture. Peruvian-born singer Yma Sumac, who was of Indian-Spanish descent, made her screen debut in the film. In a Feb 1954 SFChron article, writer Sidney Boehm claimed he got the idea for the picture after meeting Sumac at a party. HR news items add Rankin Mansfield, Miguel Contreras, Delmar Costello, Rodolfo Hoyos, Zachary Yaconelli and Carlos Rivera to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. On 14 Dec 1954, Charlton Heston and Nicole Maurey reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre version of the ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Legend of the Inca and Legend of the Incas . Opening credits conclude with the following written statement: “In the high Andes of Peru—where much of this picture was filmed—the descendants of the Inca have searched for centuries for the symbol of their past glories—a fabulous golden disc encrusted with jewels—there are others—who search—but only for gold.” As noted in news items and publicity materials, the picture was shot largely in Cuzco and Machu Picchu, Peru, and marked the first time that a major Hollywood studio filmed there. Five hundred Indians were used as extras in the film, according to publicity materials.
       According to a Jun 1953 LAT item, Wendell Corey and Viveca Lindfors were originally set to star in the picture. Peruvian-born singer Yma Sumac, who was of Indian-Spanish descent, made her screen debut in the film. In a Feb 1954 SFChron article, writer Sidney Boehm claimed he got the idea for the picture after meeting Sumac at a party. HR news items add Rankin Mansfield, Miguel Contreras, Delmar Costello, Rodolfo Hoyos, Zachary Yaconelli and Carlos Rivera to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. On 14 Dec 1954, Charlton Heston and Nicole Maurey reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theatre version of the story. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
22 May 1954.
---
Daily Variety
19 May 54
p. 3.
Film Daily
21 May 54
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Oct 1953
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 1953
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Nov 1953
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 1953
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 1953
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Dec 1953
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Dec 1953
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 1954
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 54
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
5 Jun 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
22 May 54
p. 1.
New York Times
12 Jul 1953.
---
New York Times
29 May 54
p. 13.
SFChron
4 Feb 1954.
---
Variety
19 May 54
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Photog in Peru
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
Yma Sumac Recordings
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
Former President, University of Cuzco
Tech adv
Scr supv
Unit mgr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
SONGS
"Virgin of the Sun God," "Earthquake" and "High Andes," words and music by Moises Vivanco.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Legend of the Inca
Legend of the Incas
Release Date:
June 1954
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 28 May 1954
Los Angeles opening: 16 June 1954
Production Date:
mid October--late November 1953
addl shooting completed early December 1953
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
1 June 1954
Copyright Number:
LP3990
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
up to 1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
100-101
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16853
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

After securing some business at the Cuzco, Peru, airport, tough American tour guide Harry Steele is summoned to a cantina by old acquaintance Ed Morgan. Down-and-out Ed tells Harry about a job involving an escaped Romanian woman, who is on her way to Cuzco from La Paz, then questions him about a stone Incan treasure map, the missing piece of which Ed knows was found recently by a local Indian. Harry claims ignorance of the map, which legend says leads to a solid gold, jewel-encrusted relic in the shape of a sunburst, and leaves, but is soon shot at by a sniper sent by Ed. The sniper misses, however, and Harry storms back to the bar to confront Ed. Ed, who has been seeking his fortune in Peru for thirty years, freely admits he hired the sniper to frighten Harry and criticizes him for lying about the map and excluding him from the treasure hunt. After dismissing Ed’s complaints, Harry leads a group of tourists to the local museum. There, he slips away from the group and fits a piece of broken, inscribed stone into a small replica of Machu Picchu, an Incan temple, which is on display in one of the rooms. Harry quickly studies the replica before returning to the group and noticing an attractive young woman with a suitcase, trying to blend in. Later, at the tourist hotel, Harry meets the woman, Elena Antonescu, who turns out to be the fugitive from Romania. Elena reveals that she was forced out of Bolivia, without papers, and begs Harry for help getting to the United States. Aware that ... +


After securing some business at the Cuzco, Peru, airport, tough American tour guide Harry Steele is summoned to a cantina by old acquaintance Ed Morgan. Down-and-out Ed tells Harry about a job involving an escaped Romanian woman, who is on her way to Cuzco from La Paz, then questions him about a stone Incan treasure map, the missing piece of which Ed knows was found recently by a local Indian. Harry claims ignorance of the map, which legend says leads to a solid gold, jewel-encrusted relic in the shape of a sunburst, and leaves, but is soon shot at by a sniper sent by Ed. The sniper misses, however, and Harry storms back to the bar to confront Ed. Ed, who has been seeking his fortune in Peru for thirty years, freely admits he hired the sniper to frighten Harry and criticizes him for lying about the map and excluding him from the treasure hunt. After dismissing Ed’s complaints, Harry leads a group of tourists to the local museum. There, he slips away from the group and fits a piece of broken, inscribed stone into a small replica of Machu Picchu, an Incan temple, which is on display in one of the rooms. Harry quickly studies the replica before returning to the group and noticing an attractive young woman with a suitcase, trying to blend in. Later, at the tourist hotel, Harry meets the woman, Elena Antonescu, who turns out to be the fugitive from Romania. Elena reveals that she was forced out of Bolivia, without papers, and begs Harry for help getting to the United States. Aware that Elena has only fifty dollars to her name, Harry coldly declines until she admits that the Romanian consul, Anton Marcu, who followed her to La Paz, has his own airplane. After telephoning Marcu in La Paz and telling him about Elena’s whereabouts, Harry makes a deal with Elena that he will help her get to Ecuador if she helps him steal Marcu’s plane. The next day, Harry meets Marcu at the airport and takes him to Elena in the hotel bar. Harry plies Marcu with alcohol and then slugs him, assuring he will be unconscious long enough for Elena to steal the keys to his airplane. Before they leave for the airport, Ed demands that Harry take him along, but Harry refuses. Under cover of darkness, Harry and Elena slip by airport security and steal Marcu’s plane, taking off while being shot at by police. Hours later, Harry lands the plane near a river in the Andes Mountains and finally tells Elena their destination—Machu Picchu. Unhappy but trapped, Elena hikes with Harry to the ruins, where an archaeological dig, led by American Dr. Stanley Moorehead, is being conducted. Harry and Elena tell Stanley and Pachacutec, the leader of the local Indian tribe, that Harry is Elena’s pilot and that their plane ran out of gas a few miles away. Although Pachacutec and his sister Kori-Tica are suspicious of Harry and Elena, Stanley is gracious and bandages a small cut that Elena sustained in a fall. As Stanley’s crew works to uncover the tomb of an Incan king, Harry finally tells Elena about the sunburst, revealing his belief that the treasure is in the tomb. After Harry confesses he disabled the crew’s radio and intends to steal the sunburst, Elena expresses her disapproval but admits she is not in a position to stop him. That night, while the Indians perform sacred rituals in anticipation of the tomb’s opening, Stanley and Elena talk under the stars and share a kiss. The next day, Ed appears at the ruins, claiming he came in response to a distress call Harry made before abandoning the plane. Although annoyed by Ed’s presence, Harry goes along with his story. Later, after telling Elena that, if she wanted, she could get the gentlemanly Stanley to marry her, Harry comments that she is more his type than Stanley's and kisses her. At first, Elena responds to Harry’s passion, but when he nonchalantly instructs her to lead Stanley on until they are ready to leave, she storms off, disgusted. The night before the tomb’s unearthing, Stanley proposes to Elena, but she is noncommittal. While Harry and Ed hang back, Stanley leads the way into the tomb, where a carved stone version of the sunburst is found. After Stanley tells Pachacutec that the gold sunburst does not exist, Pachacutec sadly informs his people that the legend, which says that the Incas will be resurrected with the finding of the gold sunburst, is false. Harry declares he is leaving the next day and asks Elena to join him, but just before dawn, he sneaks back to the tomb and, guided by the map piece, discovers the gold sunburst hidden in a wall. Unknown to Harry, Ed has followed him into the tomb and, at gunpoint, demands the sunburst. Before Harry can react, Pachacutec bursts in. Ed shoots at him, then snatches the sunburst from Harry and runs from the ruins, firing wildly at the pursuing Indians. Harry, however, catches up to Ed on a cliff and fights the exhausted older man for the sunburst. Harry grabs the sunburst just as Ed stumbles and falls to his death. For a moment, Harry revels in his victory, then walks back to the ruins and presents Pachacutec with the sunburst. Admitting that finding the sunburst was more important to him than owning it, Harry proposes to Elena, who happily accepts.

+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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