A vivid tale of priceless Zapotecan artifacts, deadly deception and sinister treasure-seekers unfolds in Plunder Of The Sun, based on the novel by best-selling author DAVID DODGE (To Catch A Thief). Brought to the screen b... more »y JOHN WAYNE?s Batjac production company, GLENN FORD (Gilda, Blackboard Jungle) stars as American insurance adjuster Al Colby, a man who unwittingly becomes involved with a fortune in ancient curios after being asked to carry a mysterious package aboard a ship sailing from Havana to Mexico. Colby?s seemingly innocent mission becomes a dangerous game of pursuit when he discovers that others-including two seductive women (DIANA LYNN, PATRICIA MEDINA) and a double-crossing rogue (SEAN McLORY) ? are determined to take possession of the parcel he carries?at any cost. JOHN FARROW (The Big Clock, Hondo) directs this mystery-thriller set amidst the spectacular archaeological ruins of Mitla and Monte Alban near Oaxaca, Mexico.« less
William R. Hancock | Travelers Rest, S.C. United States | 06/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Within the past year, the old fifties "hard-boiled" noir adventure thriller "Plunder of the Sun" has resurfaced in both of it's media incarnations. The original David Dodge novel has been reprinted and re-issued by the folks at "Hard-Case Crime" and can be gotten through your local literary outlets. "Hard-Case Crime" specializes in bringing back bad-guys-vs-sorta-good- guys-and-maybe good/maybe-bad-gals kinds of stuff...with not a PROFILER or SERIAL KILLER in SIGHT....a fresh breeze from what normally haunts the paperback racks in the early 21st century... and they think "Plunder" is worth a read. So do I.
"Plunder" is ALSO back in cinema format in the Wayne-Fellows (later BATJAC) production starring Glenn Ford, Patricia Medina, and Sean McClory. It is shot in glorious, moody, atmospheric black and white, excellently acted, and well directed by John Farrow. This film was one of two shot in Mexico in the same year by Wayne-Fellows/BATJAC, both directed by Farrow. The other film was the 3-D Technicolor western classic "HONDO".
The intellectually challenged "video-game-as-movie" fanatics will not care one wit for "Plunder of the Sun" . This isn't "Stealth" or "Tomb Raider" or any such "kaboom-kaboom-bam-bam" CGI-propelled FX showcase. This is a STORY, with DIALOG, and with PLOT intricacies and double crosses, and you actually have to use your BRAIN to follow it. No multi-car chases/crashes and only a very FEW gunshots fired!!! And, wonder of wonders!, when a fight occurs its just a good old fashioned fisticuffs kind of fight!!!! Wow! Shazam!!! Nobody is leaping around twenty feet in the air doing somersaults or catching bullets in their bare hands.
American insurance investigator Al Colby is roped into a scheme involving Mexican archaeological treasures in a story that is told in narrative flashback. He starts out in pre-Castroite Cuba and ends up in Mexico in a maze of double-dealing and double trouble. Figuring out who is doing what to who... and why...is part of the fun in trying to unravel this "chinese box" of a mystery. The old saying "Trust No One" is very apropos here.
GOT to be dull as dirt, right? Well, if the CGI Wham-Bam is your personal cup of tea, yeah, it WILL be dull as dirt. But if you like noir-syle action of a more realistic nature , then you might well enjoy this. It isn't GREAT . It isn't "The Maltese Falcon" ,though the Francis L. Sullivan character, Barrien, comes very close (perhaps as a good-humoured "homage") to a Sydney Greenstreet "type" here. Having said that, though, I must add that "Plunder" IS entertaining...even WITHOUT explosions, 60-car accidents, or profilers and serial murderers (remarkable!). All you get here are REGULAR old mean-spirited, ruthless, GREED-oriented murderers...if you can STAND such a hackneyed old concept in the "Day of the Genius Uber-Psycho".
There are great location sequences here shot in Zapotec ruins in the Oaxaca Valley and these sequences add very credible authenticity to the overall feel of the film. The DVD package also adds some excellent special features on the Zapotec civilization and on the illegal theft and black-marketing of archaeological artifacts (which is, of course, the subject of the movie)
All in all this is a pretty nifty little "unknown" (or "little known")suspense piece from the BATJAC vaults"
An adventure tale with Zapotec gold, carved jade discs, a da
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 06/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Al Colby (Glenn Ford) is a down-on-his-luck guy in Havana, staying in a cheap hotel, drinking in a cheap bar and always waiting for a check in the mail. One afternoon he meets a sultry young woman, Anna Luz (Patricia Medina) who spins a tale for him. He winds up in what he thinks is her home. It turns out to be the home of a very fat, very ill man, Thomas Berrien (Francis L. Sullivan), who describes himself as an "antiquarian." He has a proposition for Colby. Take a small package and bring it into Mexico. They'll meet in Oaxaca, Colby will return the package and Berrien will give him $1,000. Colby is no fool, but he needs the money. Colby agrees, and then finds himself in the middle of a gold hunt for lost Zapotec treasure and having to deal with a group of suspicious and sometimes dangerous hunters who include a ruthless, blond Irishman (Sean McClory), who knows a lot about the Zapotec, an often-drunk young American woman (Diana Lynn) who thinks getting even is almost as good as love, and a respected Mexican Zapotec expert and his son. To make it even more complex, Berrien died of heart failure, probably, on the trip to Mexico. Colby, after he arrives in Oaxaca and opens the package, is smart enough to know that the disc of carved jade and the three pages of mixed Zapotec and Spanish, printed on fragmenting parchment, just might hold the key to more riches Colby has ever dreamed of. And still in the mix is Anna Luz. She is determined to secure the pages and is dealing with obligations she doesn't want to share with Colby.
Plunder of the Sun is an efficient, fast-paced adventure yarn with a believably smart but tough hero in Glenn Ford. All the characters, including Al Colby, have hidden motives and questionable morals. We're never sure what Colby's game is until we're well into the movie. We know it can't be any worse that Berrien's or the Irishman's.
There are three things I like about the movie. First, it has no pretensions of being anything than what it is, a fast-paced adventure tale with hidden treasure and periodic violence. Second, the location shooting. A good deal of the picture is set in Monte Alban, the great abandoned city of the Zapotec close to Oaxaca. We get plenty of scenes which are set on the huge stone walls and buildings, on the steep, narrow steps, on the playing fields, the sacrificial altars and burial trenches. Some additional scenes are set in Mitla, a Zapotec temple complex nearby. Third, Charles Rooner and the job he does with the minor character of Captain Bergman. Bergman seems to be a German, sweaty, overweight, ingratiating, scrambling for a few pesos and utterly immoral. Rooner, born in Austria, made a career playing in Mexican movies. Watching Bergman eat at a bar, stuffing his mouth, food particles falling, gulping down swallows of beer with his mouth full, makes you have a greater appreciation for pigs. It's a startling bit of acting.
Plunder of the Sun is no long-forgotten classic. Thanks to DVD it is one of those solid but forgotten movies, much better than a programmer, that we have a chance to watch again. The DVD is in fine shape. Extras include an interesting overview of archeological plundering and background on Monte Alban and Mitla by David Carballo, a professor of archeology at the University of Oklahoma. There is a commentary by Frank Thompson and Glenn Ford's son, Peter.
And it would be a shame not to mention David Dodge, the writer who wrote the book on which the movie was based. Dodge was a fine writer of popular novels and travelogues. Five of his detective/adventure stories I like a lot. In addition to Plunder of the Sun (1949), there are two other Al Colby books, The Long Escape (1948) and The Red Tassel (1950), as well as To Catch a Thief (1952), which Hitchcock snapped up, and The Lights of Skaro (1954). Most have been out of print for years, although Plunder has been recently reprinted. If you find a brown-edged, aging paperback or hard back of any of them, the price undoubtedly will be right...so buy it, read it and enjoy."
Classic Film Noir in Striking Daylight
gobirds2 | New England | 07/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"PLUNDER OF THE SUN plays much like a movie from the film noir genre with its somber tone and cynical mood. Glenn Ford certainly typifies the film noir hero as Al Colby a disillusioned loner who becomes involved in what appears to be some shady dealings with several mysterious characters and a mysterious package from Havana to Mexico. Glenn Ford plays this character with a gritty realism. During the first third of the film Ford is seen down and out living in a world comprised of stark undercurrents. Director John Farrow however films the rest of the tale in vivid daylight once it shifts from Havana to the bright decks aboard ship en route to sunny Mexico. Yet, Farrow uses vivid light in lieu of dark shadows to create this film noir vision in broad daylight. Essentially this could have been a standard murder adventure mystery but Farrow's approach gives this film a jagged realism with imperfect and vulnerable characters. Farrow's approach raises questions of morality. Is hero Glenn Ford really involved in stealing Mexican artifacts for his own monetary gain at the expense of Mexico's cultural and historical heritage? Ford's fatalistic approach to his character adds to the noir and mystery of this film. Sean McClory gives a brilliant and appealing performance as Jefferson, an enigmatic scoundrel with a bleach blonde crew cut to boot that tries to steal Ford's secret parcel throughout the film. Diana Lynn also gives a very credible performance as a woman of dubious character exuding unrefined sensuality that also vies for Ford's parcel. Jonathan Latimer's script, based on the novel by David Dodge, and director Farrow's vision greatly realized by Jack Draper's brilliant cinematography lends to the notion that the characters are dealing with something of greater importance than all their efforts to outmaneuver each other. Composer Antonio Diaz Conde's score is colorful capturing the flavor of the Mexican locale and wonderfully compliments the idea that the plundering the historical treasures may certainly be sacrilegious and detrimental to those who attempt such transgressions. This film is certainly a lost gem exemplifying the cohesive art of solid filmmaking. "
Greed, Buried Treasure, and Glenn Ford, too!
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 10/08/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While much of Glenn Ford's early 1950s film output are unabashedly 'B' movies (he filled the same niche as Robert Mitchum did, at RKO), his movies are, by and large, very entertaining, and "Plunder of the Sun", shot in Mexico for Warners and John Wayne's Batjac Productions, is no exception. Directed by John Farrow, this action drama offers noir elements (an ambiguous hero, a 'fallen' woman, brutal violence, and an 'expressionist' use of light and shadow), John Huston-like characters (reminiscent of both "The Maltese Falcon" and "Treasure of Sierra Madre"), and an actually pretty accurate look at ancient Indian civilizations that built cities with pyramids when Europe consisted of little more than tribes.
Ford is Al Colby, a down-on-his-luck American recruited by rotund Thomas Berrien (Sidney Greenstreet-channeling Francis L. Sullivan) to slip a package through Mexican customs. When Berrien unexpectedly dies, a variety of characters offers Colby money, potential treasure, or his life, in exchange for the mysterious package, which he discovers contains part of an ancient document mapping where a hidden cache of priceless artifacts is buried. Seduced by both beautiful native girl Patricia Medina, who seems involved with all the 'major players', and drunken American 'party girl' Diana Lynn (doing a 'Gloria Grahame' impression), and 'educated' through beatings and genial lectures by the mysterious 'Jefferson' (scene-stealing Sean McClory), Colby teeters between succumbing to the vast wealth the document promises, and 'doing the right thing', and turning everything over to the Mexican authorities, who legally 'own' the artifacts. While Ford's portrayal lacks the subtle shadings of Bogart or Mitchum, he handles the moral dilemma quite well, and he certainly can take a beating!
With much of the action filmed at actual Aztec sites, in Oaxaca, Mexico, the film has an authentic 'feel', is fast-paced, and very watchable.
Certainly worth a look!"
One of the better Batjac films
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 07/07/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Plunder of the Sun is more upmarket and more successful than most of Batjac's non-John Wayne starring pictures, with broke insurance adjuster Glenn Ford finding himself in Maltese Falcon territory when Francis L. Sullivan's fat man asks him to smuggle some pages of a Zatopec manuscript out of Cuba. Naturally it all leads to multiple murders and a scavenger hunt in the spectacular ancient cities of Mitla and Monte Alban with Sean McClory's bleach-blonde thug, Patricia Medina's compulsive liar and Diane Lynn's Gloria Graham impersonator among the various interested parties trying to do him out of his share.
No classic, but a slick disposable entertainment, and well presented in Paramount's DVD. The extras aren't quite as comprehensive as they seem, with most dealing with the locations, but it's a good package."