Monday, January 13, 2014

Treasure of the Golden Condor

What's left of the Fox Movie Channel is still plugging along, even airing movies that are new to me. One such movie is Treasure of the Golden Condor, which is on again tomorrow morning at 7:45 AM.

Cornel Wilde plays Jean-Paul, who at the beginning of the movie is actually a young boy living with his maternal grandfather in 18th century France. His paternal grandfather was the Marquis de St. Malo, and his father married his mother on a ship's voyage to the colonies in the Caribbean, where both of them eventually died of tropical diseases, leaving the boy an orphan living with the other grandfather on the ancestral lands. Those or now controlled by Jean-Paul's uncle (George Macready), who is a usurper, and knows it. He's got a plan to get Jean-Paul out of the way though, which involves playing on the illiteracy of young Jean-Paul and his grandfather to present them with a document supposedly legitimizing the familial relatoinship, but in actuality making Jean-Paul a bonded servant.

Fast forward to Jean-Paul's adulthood. Jean-Paul is still working in the St. Malo stables, where he from time to time is met by his cousin the Comtesse (Anne Bancroft). The two fall in love, but there's no way for them to have a real relationship as long as he's a servant. He needs some way to claim his rightful inheritance, which means money to find the proof of the marriage.

Wouldn't you know it, a plan, however cockamamie and unrealistic it may be, shows up, in the form of MacDougal (Findlay Currie). He's a Scot who had lived in the highlands of Guatemala among the descendants of the Mayans, and he's got what is supposedly a treasure map in the old Mayan language, showing the location of wealth beyond anybody's dreams! He can't read it of course, but the one person who can just happens to be the priest in the local parish on the St. Malo lands. Yeah right. Jean-Paul finds out about it, and decides to run away (which is technically highly illegal) with MacDougal to go to Guatemala and get some of that treasure for himself so that he can reclaim the inheritance.

So, we get about a third of the movie set in Guatemala (and partially filmed there, at least the establishing shots) in which MacDougal and Jean-Paul try to get that treasure. Along the way, MacDougal meets his daughter Clara (Constance Smith), who is decidedly against her father's quixotic quest, because she's seen the destruction it's wrought upon her family. Still, what with the whole plot line of Jean-Paul needing the treasure to go back to France, you kind of have to expect that they're going to be successful in getting the treasure so that the rightful climax of the movie can be back in France. You can expect that the good people are going to come out well, the bad guys are going to get their comeuppances, but I won't go into much detail as to exactly how that happens once Jean-Paul gets back to France, so that I won't give away the key plot details. One thing worth adding, though, is that Jean-Paul gets help from financier Dondel, played by Leo G. Carroll.

Although there are some plot twists, Treasure of the Golden Condor is a fairly formulaic movie, with an ending you might be able to see coming from a mile away, as well as some other plot points that are quite telegraphed. But then, you're watching an adventure movie, not something serious. You should know going into it that the point is to be entertained and not edified. In that regard, Treasure of the Golden Condor certainly succeeds. Cornel Wilde is well-suited to this sort of movie; the color cinematography is lovely, both of the Guatemala scenes and the interiors; and the acting from the supporting characters is generally reasonably good. Currie is a treat to watch, even if what happens to his character is a bit unbelievable.

As far as I can tell, Treasure of the Golden Condor doesn't seem to be on DVD.

1 comment:

Paul Brownsey said...

I am trying to remember a 1950s adventure film in which someone breaks open some kind of hidey-hole in a wall looking for a treasure map and there is a snake inside the hidey-hole. I thought it was Treasure of the Golden Condor, but synopses of the film online make no mention of such an episode. Can you tell me whether the episode was in this film or have I misremembered?

Paul Brownsey. Glasgow, Scotland.