Secret of the Incas (1954)

Charlton Heston, Robert Young, Nicole Maurey, Thomas Mitchell,
An adventurer searchers for hidden treasure in the Peruvian jungles.
  • 6.0 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Ranald MacDougall, Sydney Boehm, Boehm Maximum, Writer:
  • Jerry Hopper, Director:
  • Mel Epstein, Producer:
6 / 10

"Call Me Harry"

The main reason to watch Secret Of The Incas is for a glimpse at Peruvian Indian culture, something like it was before Pizarro and the Spaniards got there. The location cinematography in the Peruvian Andes is stunning as well as the sequences depicting the remnants of the Incas. Otherwise though Secret Of The Incas is a potboiler adventure flick set in an unusual vacation.

For a guy who played such noble heroes in film, Charlton Heston plays one of the more disreputable roles in his career as Harry Steele who urges all to call him Harry. He's an American stranded in a really backwater part of Peru and living off the tourists providing all kinds of services. When we first meet him he's getting paid from Marion Ross for some really special interest. Later on the married Glenda Farrell attracts his attention, but he discards her for Nicole Maurey, a refugee from behind the Iron Curtain that the Romanians want back although the film never really explains why. So much so that their consul Leon Askin is giving it his personal attention though I think his interests are really personal as are Heston's.

But Askin does have a private plane and Heston knows how to fly so he and Maurey take off for an even more remote part of Peru where they believe an Inca treasure is buried. It's a yellow sunburst made of gold and expensive jewels. Like the Maltese Falcon worth the hunt. But a dig organized by archaeologist Robert Young is in the way. And an even bigger low life than Heston shows up and declares his interest in the treasure and that's Thomas Mitchell.

The color cinematography also does justice to Nicole Maurey's beauty as well as the Peruvian landscape. Thomas Mitchell creates an interesting portrait of an aging crook, living by his wits in a racket he should have gotten out of a long time ago. But his way of living is the only thing he knows. Heston's motivations for turning good guy are not really ringing true, though he doesn't turn quite so good. I will say some adult themes are explored and hinted at here that would not have passed Code muster five years earlier.

Paramount lifted this one a bit from its true origins by location cinematography and some A list players in the cast. But Secret Of The Incas is really just your average potboiler adventure story.

6 / 10

Adventure movie filled with thrills , emotion , enjoyable performances and marvelous outdoors

This exciting picture deals with a ruthless adventurer called Harry Steele (Charlton Heston) wearing brown leather jacket, fedora, tan pants, over-the-shoulder bag, and wielding revolver and is hunting a priceless Inca jewel . As he searchers for hidden treasure in the Peruvian jungles . He is accompanied by a gorgeous drifter named Elena Antonescu (Nicole Maurey), a refugee fleeing from communists . She can help him get a plane and he can help her escape Peru for the relative safety of Mexico ; as she more than matches him as the feisty heroine who follows him through mountains , rivers , cliffs and all kind dangers .

Jungle thriller plenty of tremendous adventures , action , a love story , and wonderful scenarios . This is a 1950-style high adventure and driven along with enormous panaché , including enjoyable screenplay from Sydney Bohen and Ronald MacDougall . Hopper direction is uninspired , the Pine-Thomas unit in Paramount gave him his first chance at filmmaking , but his movies for them , though attractively set , all-action subjects such as this ¨The secret of Incas ¨and ¨Hurricane Smith¨ were not specially distinguished . Charlton Heston is pretty good as a rough adventurer ; here is a rugged as well as rogue young transformed into a intrepid man of action at the drop of his spectacles . Heston had played for director Hopper , two passable films : the historical Western ¨Pony Express¨ and ¨The private war of Major Benson¨ , a comedy about the relationship between a martinet commander and a very small cadet . Charlton Heston gets nice support cast from veteran Hollywood characters such as Thomas Mitchell , Glenda Farrell , Michael Pate , Leon Askin and Robert Young , in fact it was the final theatrical film of this veteran actor , who thereafter moved exclusively into television, where he enjoyed a highly successful career for over 30 years . The movie is often cited as a direct inspiration for the Indiana Jones franchise of films, with many of the scenes in Secret of the Incas bearing a striking resemblance in tone and structure to scenes in Raiders of the Lost Ark . Adequate special effects by the veteran John P.Fulton and and colorful cinematography by Lionel Lindon, though is urgent a perfect remastering . Being set on location in Cuzco , Peruvian jungles and Machu Pichu , Peru . Evocative Original Music by David Buttolph , including strange as well as hypnotic songs sung by Yma Sumac as Kori-Tica ,she is billed third on the posters .

The motion picture produced by Mel Epstein was professionally directed by Jerry Hopper , but with no enthusiasm . Hopper firstly worked for Paramount , them he crossed to Universal and immediately proved himself on more intimate subjects , particularly those with veins of comedy or sentiment . Hopper directed all kind of genres such as Western : Madron , Pony Express , The Bull of the West ; gritty Thriller : Naked alibi , The Atomic City , The square jungle ; Comedy : The private war of Major Benson ; Adventures : Alaska seas , The Sharkfighters , and The Missouri traveler, it was the best of Hopper's later movies before he became entrenched in television . As Jerry Hooper also filmed a great quantity of TV episodes such as Voyage to the bottom of the sea , The fugitive , Perry Mason , Shenandoah , Adams family , Caravan and Gunsmoke .

7 / 10

Harry "Man Of" Steele: He's not for budging!

Secret of the Incas is directed by Jerry Hopper and written by Sydney Boehm and Ranald MacDougall. It stars Charlton Heston, Nicole Maurey, Thomas Mitchell, Robert Young and Glenda Farrell. Music is by David Buttolph and cinematography by Lionel Lindon.

Harry Steele (Heston) is an adventurer searching for a hidden piece of Incan treasure in the Peruvian lands. But others are interested in the item as well, for differing reasons...

I have to wonder if I have just watched a different version to some other on line reviewers? I have seen quotes attributed to Secret of the Incas that range from rip-roaring action to ebullient adventure, odd, then, that it really is neither of those things. Oh it's fun enough, bolstered by a rugged Heston and a shifty Mitchell, but it's hardly action orientated. In fact it doesn't gather pace until the last twenty minutes. The dialogue is often twee, the characterisations atypical of the genre, while a shift in attitudes for our hero is sadly unsurprising. There's no bad performances, mind, just that what they are given to work with is bordering on the mundane.

Where the pic scores highly is with its stunning Peruvian vistas, awash with Technicolour, it's high end photography from Lindon (Oscar winner for Around the World in Eighty Days). Also of note is Hopper's good use of extras, hundreds of them, he knows how to craft a good scene and keeps the pic interesting when the flaccid screenplay threatens to sink the interest value without trace. Correctly cited as one of the biggest influences on Indiana Jones (specifically Raiders of the Lost Ark), anyone who has seen both films will know "Incas" influence is great. They will also know why "Raiders" is so beloved by the action/adventure film fan, it's because it "IS" an action/adventure film of some substance. Sadly "Incas", as watchable as it is, is pretty run-of-the- mill stuff that finds decent enough characters struggling to find any action or indeed, any adventure. 6/10

5 / 10

SECRET OF THE INCAS (Jerry Hopper, 1954) **

Despite the intriguing title, this is a tedious potboiler with very little to commend it save the evocative Peruvian locations. A stiff, pre-stardom Charlton Heston is an arrogant opportunist whose dress code might well have inspired Indiana Jones but his adventures, unfortunately for the viewer, are nowhere near as exciting. Robert Young (unconvinging as a belatedly introduced archaeologist), Thomas Mitchell (as Heston's double-crossing partner) and Michael Pate (ridiculously decked out in a Rumpelstiltskin hat as the Inca High Priest or something) are on hand to lend the film some much needed support but the female cast is very weak: Nicole Maurey tries too hard as the damsel-in-distress heroine, Glenda Farrell is wasted as an American tourist with an eye on Heston, and Peruvian singer Yma Sumac almost sinks the film with her embarrassing over-the-top chanting!

4 / 10

Call Me Harry...

This starts promisingly as a rather cynical drama with a lean, mean young Charlton Heston as a bad boy that women are drawn to (including a mature but still succulent Glenda Farrell in Technicolor) despite being a jerk.

Unfortunately when the action relocates to an archeological dig presided over by Robert Young (in his final big screen role), local colour takes over - including a couple of songs by Yma Sumac - and it all gets very talky.