Tuesday, December 08, 2015


The Sunburst is a fabled jeweled golden disc stolen from the Incas hundreds of years ago, and Harry Steele (Charlton Heston), a tour guide in Peru who is not above using his studly charms to snag female tourists, thinks he can piece together a map that will lead him to the Sunburst. But grizzled rival Ed Morgan (Thomas Mitchell) wants the disc as well, and tries to scare Steele off the search. Steele meets up with Elena (Nicole Maurey), a Rumanian refugee looking to get to the States but being trailed by a diplomat who wants to bring her back. Steele appears to give her up to the diplomat, but he only does this in order to get his hands on the diplomat's private plane; when he does, he and Elena take off for Machu Picchu to find the Sunburst. They become friends with Stanley (Robert Young), leader of an archeological dig, and Elena finds herself with feelings for both Steele and Stanley. When Morgan shows up with a gun, events build to a predictable climax.

The reason I watched this was because I heard that Steven Spielberg based the look of Indiana Jones on Heston's character in this movie. Jones might also have a bit of Steele's personality, though Steele also resembles any number of other pulp fiction adventurers. Heston is particularly good here, looking rough and tough and like he might just fuck anything that moves. Mitchell is very effective as a slimy villain—you can almost smell the ripe sweat on him. I was less impressed with Maurey but it's fun to see 30s star Glenda Farrell in a supporting role. Exotic singer Yma Sumac who had a five octave range, and who actually was Peruvian, has what amounts to a cameo as, yes, a Peruvian singer. The color movie looks good, with some actual location shooting, but ultimately very much a B-level adventure film, lacking that spark of acting, writing or directing that would make it stand out. [Streaming]

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