Treasure of the Golden Condor (1953)

93-94 mins | Adventure | February 1953

Director:

Delmer Daves

Writer:

Delmer Daves

Producer:

Jules Buck

Cinematographer:

Edward Cronjager

Editor:

Robert Simpson

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Albert Hogsett

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were The Golden Serpent , Condor's Nest and The Golden Condor . Voice-over narration by Cornel Wilde as "Jean-Paul" is heard intermittently throughout the film. As noted in the onscreen credits, portions of the picture were shot on location in Guatemala, and according to a Jan 1952 NYT article, the film marked the first time that Guatemala was used as a location for a major Hollywood film. Although HR news items include Alex Akimoff, Julio Bonini, Charles Gonzales, Mario Bramucci, Alexis Davidoff and Carli D. Elinor in the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed.
       According to a Feb 1953 HR news item, Art Arling briefly substituted for Edward Cronjager as director of photography after Cronjager fell ill. In a modern interview, director Otto Preminger, who is not credited onscreen, stated that he directed a "one-hour" retake of the film, a scene in which the boa constrictor appeared. The information was corroborated by Jules Buck, the producer of Treasure of the Golden Condor who implied that Preminger may have directed more than one scene.
       The film marked the return to the screen of Fay Wray, who had last appeared in the 1942 Columbia production Not a Ladies Man . Twentieth Century-Fox had earlier adapted Edison Marshall's book in 1942 as Son of Fury , which was directed by John Cromwell and starred Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, George Sanders and Frances Farmer (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). Treasure of the Golden Condor also marked the ... More Less

The working titles of this film were The Golden Serpent , Condor's Nest and The Golden Condor . Voice-over narration by Cornel Wilde as "Jean-Paul" is heard intermittently throughout the film. As noted in the onscreen credits, portions of the picture were shot on location in Guatemala, and according to a Jan 1952 NYT article, the film marked the first time that Guatemala was used as a location for a major Hollywood film. Although HR news items include Alex Akimoff, Julio Bonini, Charles Gonzales, Mario Bramucci, Alexis Davidoff and Carli D. Elinor in the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed.
       According to a Feb 1953 HR news item, Art Arling briefly substituted for Edward Cronjager as director of photography after Cronjager fell ill. In a modern interview, director Otto Preminger, who is not credited onscreen, stated that he directed a "one-hour" retake of the film, a scene in which the boa constrictor appeared. The information was corroborated by Jules Buck, the producer of Treasure of the Golden Condor who implied that Preminger may have directed more than one scene.
       The film marked the return to the screen of Fay Wray, who had last appeared in the 1942 Columbia production Not a Ladies Man . Twentieth Century-Fox had earlier adapted Edison Marshall's book in 1942 as Son of Fury , which was directed by John Cromwell and starred Tyrone Power, Gene Tierney, George Sanders and Frances Farmer (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). Treasure of the Golden Condor also marked the final film of actor House Peters, Sr. (1880--1967), a former silent film star who began his motion picture career in 1913. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
LOCATION
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
24 Jan 1953.
---
Daily Variety
16 Jan 53
p. 3.
Film Daily
27 Jan 53
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Dec 51
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 52
p. 6, 14.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Jan 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Feb 52
p. 18.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 52
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 52
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 52
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 52
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jan 53
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
5 Feb 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
24 Jan 53
p. 1693.
New York Times
6 Jan 1952.
---
New York Times
23 May 53
p. 19.
Variety
21 Jan 53
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Fill-in dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Benjamin Blake by Edison Marshall (New York, 1941).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Condor's Nest
The Golden Condor
The Golden Serpent
Release Date:
February 1953
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 4 February 1953
Production Date:
location shooting: December 1951
studio shooting: 13 January--late February 1952
addl seq late March and late April 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
3 February 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2440
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
93-94
Length(in feet):
8,340
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15806
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the eighteenth century, Edouard, Marquis of St. Malo, returns to his lavish chateau in Normandy to inform his wife Annette that he has located his late brother Paul's son Jean-Paul, who is supposedly illegitimate. Edouard finds Jean-Paul with his grandfather, Pierre Champlain, and tricks the illiterate boy by telling him that he will live a life of luxury at the chateau. In reality, Edouard has obtained a royal writ giving him claim to Jean-Paul as a bondsman, and as the boy grows to manhood, Edouard forces him to work in the stables. Jean-Paul falls in love with Edouard's arrogant daughter Marie, who returns his affections but is more interested in wealth than in love. Believing that if he stays, he will eventually kill the sadistic Edouard, Jean-Paul plans to run away. Meanwhile, Scotsman MacDougal arrives in the village in search of Father Benoit, who was once a missionary in Guatemala and is a renowned scholar of Mayan texts. MacDougal asks the priest to translate a codex indicating the location of the famed treasure of the golden condor, but when Father Benoit learns that MacDougal has killed to protect the map, he refuses to aid him. Father Benoit instead takes MacDougal to dine with him at the St. Malo estate, where, later that night, Edouard discovers Jean-Paul and Marie meeting in secret. Edouard challenges Jean-Paul to a fight using the new rules of pugilism, but attacks Jean-Paul while he is removing his coat and beats him into unconsciousness. Sickened by Edouard's cruelty, Father Benoit promises to translate MacDougal's map if the Scotsman allows Jean-Paul to accompany him to Guatemala and share in ... +


In the eighteenth century, Edouard, Marquis of St. Malo, returns to his lavish chateau in Normandy to inform his wife Annette that he has located his late brother Paul's son Jean-Paul, who is supposedly illegitimate. Edouard finds Jean-Paul with his grandfather, Pierre Champlain, and tricks the illiterate boy by telling him that he will live a life of luxury at the chateau. In reality, Edouard has obtained a royal writ giving him claim to Jean-Paul as a bondsman, and as the boy grows to manhood, Edouard forces him to work in the stables. Jean-Paul falls in love with Edouard's arrogant daughter Marie, who returns his affections but is more interested in wealth than in love. Believing that if he stays, he will eventually kill the sadistic Edouard, Jean-Paul plans to run away. Meanwhile, Scotsman MacDougal arrives in the village in search of Father Benoit, who was once a missionary in Guatemala and is a renowned scholar of Mayan texts. MacDougal asks the priest to translate a codex indicating the location of the famed treasure of the golden condor, but when Father Benoit learns that MacDougal has killed to protect the map, he refuses to aid him. Father Benoit instead takes MacDougal to dine with him at the St. Malo estate, where, later that night, Edouard discovers Jean-Paul and Marie meeting in secret. Edouard challenges Jean-Paul to a fight using the new rules of pugilism, but attacks Jean-Paul while he is removing his coat and beats him into unconsciousness. Sickened by Edouard's cruelty, Father Benoit promises to translate MacDougal's map if the Scotsman allows Jean-Paul to accompany him to Guatemala and share in the treasure. Edouard has Pierre imprisoned, and although Jean-Paul wants to stay to help his grandfather, MacDougal urges him to find the treasure first. Jean-Paul and MacDougal then begin the journey to Guatemala, and when they reach MacDougal's home in Antigua, the Scotsman is horrifed to see that powerful earthquakes have devastated the region. He is relieved to find his daughter Clara alive, but the attractive woman, who blames him for the death of her mother from jungle fever, is furious about his intention to search the highlands once again for the treasure. Clara is cool to Jean-Paul, but soon the trio enter the dangerous jungle. Eventually, MacDougal despairs of ever finding Maya Land, the location of the treasure, and is about to give up. Jean-Paul determines to press on, however, and Clara angrily reproaches him for driving her father onward. Jean-Paul replies that he is seeking the treasure in order to redress wrongs against his family, rather than for its own sake, and Clara repents her outspokenness. MacDougal soon finds the lake at the beginning of Maya Land, and the trio descend into the village of the primitive Quiche Indians, who believe that they are gods. After celebrating their arrival, the Quiche lead the trio to Tikal, the entrance to the ruins containing the treasure. Jean-Paul and MacDougal then enter the ruins and find the treasure room, which contains vast riches. As they stuff their bags with golden idols, emeralds and jade, the men are alarmed by the appearance of an enormous boa constrictor. As they try to escape from the serpent and a steadily increasing earthquake, MacDougal falls into a pit, breaking his hip, and Jean-Paul rushes to get Clara. Jean-Paul succeeds in killing the snake, and he and Clara pull MacDougal to safety just as the earthquake seals the ruins forever. During his convalescence, MacDougal finds peace among the kind-hearted Indians and announces his intention to remain there with Clara. MacDougal gives Jean-Paul his share of the treasure, and despite his growing feelings for Clara, Jean-Paul returns to France. He first goes to Paris, where he asks influential businessman Raoul Dondel to help him establish his right to the St. Malo estate. Dondel promises to obtain results within a month, and Jean-Paul travels to Normandy to reunite with Marie. Despite being thrilled by the emerald necklace Jean-Paul gives her, Marie worries about his attempt to gain her father's title and alerts the authorities after he confides his hiding place to her. Jean-Paul is arrested and tried for escaping from his master, and because he offers no defense, is found guilty. Just before the magistrate sentences him, however, Dondel arrives and supplies proof that Jean-Paul's parents were legally married, and that he is therefore the rightful Marquis de St. Malo. The case against Jean-Paul is dismissed, and the conniving Marie plots to ingratiate herself with him. Her scheme is ruined, however, when Jean-Paul overhears as Edouard threatens to reveal that Marie was his betrayer. Jean-Paul then bests Edouard in a fierce fight and dismisses Marie. After dividing the St. Malo estate between Pierre, Benoit and the estate's tenants, Jean-Paul leaves France forever, and upon his return to the Guatemalan highlands, is welcomed to "New Scotsland" by the beaming Clara and MacDougal. +

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

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.