Monday, December 03, 2012


An old-school adventure epic with stars, great locations, lovely use of widescreen, but only so-so writing and acting. A tribe of warriors conquer the Mayans and kill the old king; his son Balam (George Chakiris) leads his people to the coast where, despite being afraid of falling off the edge of the world, they set sail for a new land across the Gulf of Mexico to what is today Texas. An Indian tribe, fearing the Mayans, sends their chief Black Eagle (Yul Brynner) to investigate; he is captured by the Mayans and set to be sacrificed; Balam, who is against human sacrifice, wants to stop it, but Ah Min (Richard Basehart), his second-in-command, argues for continuing the ritual. Complications ensue: both Balam and Black Eagle are in love with Mayan princess Ixchel (Shirley Ann Field), and the warriors who drove out the Mayans land on shore, threatening both the Mayans and the Indians. This film isn't bad but it doesn't stand out from the historical epic crowd. It looks good, shot on location with a huge cast of extras in Mayan costumes. The culture-clash story is interesting, though the individual characters aren't especially compelling. Chakiris is OK in the beginning, but he can't compete with the charismatic, studly Brynner (pictured). I liked Basehart well enough, though his grey bun hairdo is distracting. Field is a rather bland love interest. The final battle scene is nicely handled. If you already have a taste for this kind of epic, this will be right up your alley. [TCM]

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