cast: Charlton Heston
Harry Steele, a womanizing adventurer played by Charlton Heston, looks awfully familiar. With a worn brown leather jacket and a fedora hat, he’s a dead ringer for Harrison Ford’s iconic Indiana Jones. But wait… SECRET OF THE INCAS came out thirty years before the Steven Spielberg/George Lucas epic RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. That’s right, Indy’s not entirely original – although this isn’t a big surprise as the character’s an intentional composite of serial pulp heroes that Lucas grew up worshiping. But enough of the improved copy, let’s center on Heston’s Steele, an American maverick abroad running a tour guide service as a front. He’s really into fortune hunting and happens upon a beautiful woman who needs a plane to escape from Peru. Harry can help her but he’s got a trick up his sleeve. But that’s nothing compared to his shady counterpart Ed Morgan, an old gruff heavyset con man who’s really an adversary – tailing Steele, he wants what his young rival’s after: an Incan treasure that, if found and returned to its mountainous Peruvian origin The Temple of the Sun, can renew the ancient civilization… or something. There’s not much action other than one scene where Harry and Elena wind up stealing the plane. After landing, they take a long hike to the temple where the storyline, promising much, comes to nothing. Robert Young’s Stanley Moorehead is introduced: a gentleman who wants Elana’s hand in marriage. Only she’s fallen for the roguish Steele, who should be doing a lot more to live up to his adventurous ways. Much of the time’s spent on an Indian woman crooning an irritating form of tribal scat to the gods – this while Harry, in the 11th hour, winds up in a cavern where… like the RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK’s Staff or Ra scene… places gems in the wall where a shaft of light lead to the next step. Only thing is – there’s no next step. The journey, which is anything but perilous, ends right there. TRIVIA: The tribal chanting main theme is used in THE BIG LEBOWSKI after The Dude is drugged by Jackie Treehorn in his Malibu hideaway. And the costume designer for RAIDERS has admitted she used Harry Steele as an aesthetic template for Indy Jones. CAMEO: Marion Ross from HAPPY DAYS plays Harry's first unsatisfied customer.
|Marion Ross from HAPPY DAYS talking to the charming sleazeball Harry Steele (Heston)|