Wednesday, January 22, 2014



Archaeologist Eric Portman has run out of funding but needs to return to North Africa to substantiate his findings concerning the legend of a treasure buried in the tomb of Roman ruler Marcus Manilius, specifically the cursed golden Mask of Moloch. The British Museum won't give him any more money, but a free-lance adventurer and best-selling author (Van Heflin) has offered to provide funding if he can come along and write a book about their findings. Portman thinks Heflin is just a fame-seeking jerk, but he finally agrees to let him come along. Also along for the trip: Portman's daughter (Wanda Hendrix) and her somewhat milquetoastish fiancé. And it wouldn't be a Hollywood archeology trip without a couple of bad guys following along, hoping to snag the treasure for their own nefarious purposes. First, Heflin is waylaid in a bar by a dancing girl while the baddies ransack his room, looking for a map. Later, Heflin helps two penniless street kids who then help direct him across the Sahara. Everyone gets caught in a sandstorm, then Heflin is kidnapped, leading to a somewhat anti-climactic battle, followed by the predictable re-sorting of Hendrix's romantic feelings. This is a competent but unexciting adventure tale, completely predictable with little to recommend it unless you are a Van Heflin fan. The only real minus for me was that the movie stops dead in its tracks several times to provide: 1) some travelogue footage of Tunis, and 2) lots of scenes of belly-dancing women and men. Oh yeah, and there's a character named Thankyou, which is neither a plus nor a minus. [TCM]

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