The Pearl (1948)

72 or 77-78 mins | Drama | 1948

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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Pearl of the World and The Pearl of La Paz ( La perla de la paz ). The Spanish-language release title was La perla . In the opening credits, John Steinbeck's name appears above the film's title. Steinbeck's novel was serialized in Woman's Home Companion on Dec 1945 under the title Pearl of the World . It was not published in book form in the United States until after the film's completion. Some of the credits on the viewed print differ from credits recorded in the copyright cutting continuity, which was submitted on 4 May 1948. Ignacio Villarreal, Victor Lewis, Galdino R. Samperio, Armando Meyer and Alberto A. Ferrer are listed in the cutting continuity, but not on the viewed print. On the viewed print, Clem Portman is credited as a sound recorder, but receives no credit in the cutting continuity. Writer Jackson Wagner's first name is listed as "Jack" on the viewed print. RKO re-issued the film in 1954, and it is possible that the credits were redone at that time.
       Two versions of the film, one in English and one in Spanish, were made. As noted in HR , The Pearl was the first Mexican-made English language picture to be distributed in the U.S. According to a modern source, RKO put up 50 percent of the film's financing. HR news items indicate that in early 1946, three months of location shooting was done outside Mexico City, some in the coastal region of Guerrero, and that, in addition to ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Pearl of the World and The Pearl of La Paz ( La perla de la paz ). The Spanish-language release title was La perla . In the opening credits, John Steinbeck's name appears above the film's title. Steinbeck's novel was serialized in Woman's Home Companion on Dec 1945 under the title Pearl of the World . It was not published in book form in the United States until after the film's completion. Some of the credits on the viewed print differ from credits recorded in the copyright cutting continuity, which was submitted on 4 May 1948. Ignacio Villarreal, Victor Lewis, Galdino R. Samperio, Armando Meyer and Alberto A. Ferrer are listed in the cutting continuity, but not on the viewed print. On the viewed print, Clem Portman is credited as a sound recorder, but receives no credit in the cutting continuity. Writer Jackson Wagner's first name is listed as "Jack" on the viewed print. RKO re-issued the film in 1954, and it is possible that the credits were redone at that time.
       Two versions of the film, one in English and one in Spanish, were made. As noted in HR , The Pearl was the first Mexican-made English language picture to be distributed in the U.S. According to a modern source, RKO put up 50 percent of the film's financing. HR news items indicate that in early 1946, three months of location shooting was done outside Mexico City, some in the coastal region of Guerrero, and that, in addition to RKO's Churubusco Studios, other scenes were filmed at the RKO ranch in Encino, CA, and at Universal Studios. The underwater pearl diving scenes were filmed in a tank at RKO in late May 1946, according to HR . According to a LAEx news item, Steinbeck went to Mexico in Aug 1946 to put "the final personal supervision on his picture." A Jan 1947 NYT item claimed that Steinbeck delayed the picture's completion because he requested that Manuel Esperón, who is not credited on the film, rewrite the score to include more "Indian elements in the music." The extent of Esperón's participation in the final film has not been determined. An Aug 1946 HR item reported that José Noriega, "producer of features at...Churubusco studios," had "recently completed" The Pearl . Noriega is not listed in any other source, however, and his contribution to the final film has not been confirmed.
       Some modern sources list the starting date of the production as mid-Oct 1945. HR commented that because most of the picture was made in Mexico, the final budget for both versions was a meager $400,000. The film's West coast premiere on 12 Aug 1948 was sponsored by the Comité de Beneficencia Mexicana, according to HR . The Spanish language version of the picture did not include the song "Huapango." The Pearl won five "Ariels," awards given by the Mexican Motion Picture Academy, for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Photography, Best Male Star (Pedro Armendáriz) and Best Character Role (Juan García). More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Feb 1948.
---
Daily Variety
11 Feb 48
p. 3.
Film Daily
16 Feb 48
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 May 46
p. 23.
Hollywood Reporter
23 May 46
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Aug 1946.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 1947.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 47
p. 17.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Feb 48
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 48
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 48
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 48
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 48
p. 13.
Los Angeles Examiner
13 Aug 1946.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
14 Feb 48
p. 4057.
New York Times
19 Jan 1947.
---
New York Times
18 Feb 48
p. 36.
Variety
11 Feb 48
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Pearl by John Steinbeck (New York, 1947).
SONGS
"La Bamba" and "Huapango," Mexican folk songs.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
La perla
John Steinbeck's The Pearl
Pearl of the World
Release Date:
1948
Premiere Information:
Spanish language premiere: 12 September 1947
English language premiere in New York: 17 February 1948
Production Date:
at Estudios Churubusco, Mexico City
English version completed late November 1947
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
31 December 1947
Copyright Number:
LP1584
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
72 or 77-78
Length(in feet):
6,954
Countries:
Mexico, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
11737
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Because turbulent weather has prevented them from fishing in the sea for seven consecutive days, the inhabitants of a west Mexican coastal village have become anxious and hungry. After one pearl diver, Kino, and his wife Juana eat the last of their beans, their baby Juanito is stung by a scorpion. The couple rushes Juanito to the nearest doctor, but he refuses to see them because they have no money. Despite the lack of medical attention, Juanito survives the scorpion's poison, and Kino and Juana are finally able to take their boat out to sea. When Kino accidentally drops his knife while under water, he discovers a deep bed of untouched oysters. Determined to obtain one particularly large, old oyster, Kino risks his life diving in the deep water. His efforts are rewarded when the oyster yields an enormous, perfectly rounded pearl. News of Kino's good fortune spreads quickly through the village, and the couple is treated with awe and respect by their neighbors. When asked about his plans for the pearl, Kino replies that he will buy a rifle for himself, clothes for his devoted wife and a good education for Juanito. "The pearl will make us free," he says. That night, a festival is held in honor of Kino's pearl, and the couple is accosted by the village doctor, who now insists on treating Juanito. After Kino rejects the greedy doctor's ministrations, he is warned that Gachupin and Sapo, two men who have ingratiated themselves with the couple, are going to steal the pearl. Later, in the cantina, Kino drinks and fights with his new "friends," who ... +


Because turbulent weather has prevented them from fishing in the sea for seven consecutive days, the inhabitants of a west Mexican coastal village have become anxious and hungry. After one pearl diver, Kino, and his wife Juana eat the last of their beans, their baby Juanito is stung by a scorpion. The couple rushes Juanito to the nearest doctor, but he refuses to see them because they have no money. Despite the lack of medical attention, Juanito survives the scorpion's poison, and Kino and Juana are finally able to take their boat out to sea. When Kino accidentally drops his knife while under water, he discovers a deep bed of untouched oysters. Determined to obtain one particularly large, old oyster, Kino risks his life diving in the deep water. His efforts are rewarded when the oyster yields an enormous, perfectly rounded pearl. News of Kino's good fortune spreads quickly through the village, and the couple is treated with awe and respect by their neighbors. When asked about his plans for the pearl, Kino replies that he will buy a rifle for himself, clothes for his devoted wife and a good education for Juanito. "The pearl will make us free," he says. That night, a festival is held in honor of Kino's pearl, and the couple is accosted by the village doctor, who now insists on treating Juanito. After Kino rejects the greedy doctor's ministrations, he is warned that Gachupin and Sapo, two men who have ingratiated themselves with the couple, are going to steal the pearl. Later, in the cantina, Kino drinks and fights with his new "friends," who then pay a barmaid to distract the fisherman while they steal his pouch. When Gachupin and Sapo discover that the pouch is empty, they try to harass Kino into revealing the pearl's whereabouts. Kino misguides them long enough to return home and is relieved to learn that the wise Juana took the pearl herself. The next day, Kino and Juana leave to sell the pearl to the village patron. Although unaware that it was the patron who ordered Gachupin and Sapo to steal the pearl, Kino and Juana are reluctant to trust him when he offers 900 pesos for their gem. When all of the pearl buyers then pretend that the pearl is nearly worthless, Kino and Juana depart for home. That night, Kino fends off an attacker, and his trusted neighbor, Juanito's godfather, advises him to leave the village for good. Distraught, Juana begs Kino to destroy the pearl, which she believes will bring them death and loneliness, but Kino insists that the gem will buy a better future for Juanito. After Kino falls asleep that night, Juana tries to throw the pearl into the ocean, but Kino wakes in time to stop her. Gachupin and Sapo then attack Kino on the beach, and he is forced to kill both of them. Now desperate, Kino and Juana decide to leave the village with Juanito, but their small boat quickly capsizes in the still-rough water. The couple runs to the swamp and are pursued by both the patron and the doctor. The patron shoots and kills the doctor just as he is about to shoot Kino, but is unable to capture the fisherman. After the couple escapes the swamp, they see the patron and his men heading in one direction and flee in the opposite direction. That night, however, an exhausted Juana discovers that her cut bare feet are leaving a trail of blood and begs Kino to go on without her. Kino refuses to abandon his wife and makes a crude pair of shoes for her. Eventually the family reaches the hut of a sheepherder, who gives them water and is later killed by the patron for his kindness. The family's desperate flight ends when they become trapped on an ocean bluff. Seizing his opportunity, the patron opens fire on the couple and hits Juanito. Enraged, Kino then kills the patron, but loses Juanito. Like "sleepwalkers," the now childless couple returns to the village and heads for the ocean. After Kino tosses the pearl back to the sea, he and Juana clutch each other hands. +

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

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