The Golden Mask


1h 28m 1954
The Golden Mask

Brief Synopsis

An archaeologist and a reporter fight crooks to find a lost tomb containing a legendary treasure.

Film Details

Also Known As
Golden Mask, The, South of Algiers
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Release Date
1954
Production Company
United Artists Films
Distribution Company
United Artists Films; United Artists Films

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Archaeologist Dr. Burnet (Eric Portman), his daughter Anne (Wanda Hendrix) and newspaperman Nicholas Chapman (Van Heflin) set out to search for the priceless golden mask of Moloch, believed to be in a lost tomb. Two crooks, Kress (Jacques Brunius) and Petris (Charles Goldner), use schemes, tricks and ruses to raise havoc in order to get the mask for themselves.

Film Details

Also Known As
Golden Mask, The, South of Algiers
Genre
Drama
Adventure
Release Date
1954
Production Company
United Artists Films
Distribution Company
United Artists Films; United Artists Films

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 28m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

The Golden Mask


Although cinematic treasure hunts had been a going concern since the silent era, the affordability of international travel after the Second World War prompted producers worldwide to dream up adventure tales laid in exotic ports and distant lands, sweetening the deal with the promise (occasionally broken) of footage grabbed in actual locations. In his first outing as Jungle Jim (1948), former-Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller thwarted unscrupulous treasure seekers in a studio mock-up of equatorial Africa while Stewart Granger and Charlton Heston led expeditions through veldt and desert Hell in MGM's King Solomon's Mines (1950) and Paramount's Secret of the Incas (1954), respectively. (The latter, in which a whip-cracking Heston stomped the terra in a leather jacket and fedora, has been acknowledged by both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas as the principal inspiration for Raiders of the Lost Ark [1981].) Not to be outdone, the British got in on the act; though the comic Treasure Hunt (1952) was confined entirely within the hedgerows of a sprawling Irish estate, South of Algiers (1953) concerned a race across the Sahara to reach an ancient tomb purportedly bearing riches dating back to the Punic Wars.

Released in the United States as The Golden Mask, this Mayflower Pictures Corporation production boasted not one but two American ringers as a lure for moviegoers worldwide. Van Heflin was by this point transitioning from leading man roles to character parts back home. The 1943 Academy Award winner's Hollywood career had enjoyed a considerable uptake with the success of George Stevens' Shane (1953), in which he was third-billed behind Alan Ladd and Jean Arthur, and he had also just come off of a strong performance as a cop turned killer in Joseph Losey's nervy noir The Prowler (1951). Adept at playing characters at home on both sides of the law, Heflin brought a persuasive ambiguity to his bid as a writer-for-hire who offers his services free of charge to archeologist Eric Portman while making a play for the considerably younger Wanda Hendrix. Between high profile but short-lived marriages to actor Audie Murphy and James Stack, millionaire brother of actor Robert Stack, Hendrix was nearing the end of her Hollywood tenure, though she would continue to act on episodic television and in independent features for another twenty years.

Tapped by producers Aubrey Baring and Maxwell Setton to direct The Golden Mask was Jack Lee. A former documentary filmmaker, Lee had helmed a number of well-regarded short subjects reflecting life in Great Britain during the war before making his first narrative feature in 1947. Despite the success of and acclaim from his previous assignment, The Wooden Horse (1950), the fact-based chronicle of the escape of Allied POWs from a German concentration camp in 1943, Lee did not work again for a year. Cash-poor but hoping that The Golden Mask might prove more profitable, Lee signed onto the project, which he deemed "old hokum but quite fun." A negligible career-builder, The Golden Mask reached American shores as a United Artists acquisition.

The film received amiably mixed notices, with The New York Times reserving praise for Lee's direction, the acting of Heflin and Portman, and Oswald Morris' vibrant cinematography. Lee would ultimately quit Britain for Australia, where he directed an award-winning adaptation of Neville Shute's novel A Town Like Alice in 1956 and later segued to commercial work. As chairman of the South Australian Film Commission from 1976 to 1981, Lee helped jump-start the careers of budding filmmakers Bruce Beresford and Peter Weir. He died in Sydney in 2002 at the age of 89.

Producer: Aubrey Baring, Maxwell Setton
Director: Jack Lee
Screenplay: Robert Westerby
Cinematography: Oswald Morris
Editing: Vladimir Sagovsky
Art Direction: Donald M. Ashton
Music: Robert Gill
Cast: Van Heflin (Nicholas Chapman), Wanda Hendrix (Anne Burnet), Eric Portman (Doctor Burnet), Charles Goldner (Petris), Jacques Francois (Jacques Farnod).
C-88m.

by Richard Harland Smith

Sources:
A Treasure Hard to Obtain: Images of Archeology in Popular Film by David Howard Day (Scarecrow Press, 1997)
Jack Lee obituary by Tom Vallance, The Independent, October 23, 2002
The Golden Mask

The Golden Mask

Although cinematic treasure hunts had been a going concern since the silent era, the affordability of international travel after the Second World War prompted producers worldwide to dream up adventure tales laid in exotic ports and distant lands, sweetening the deal with the promise (occasionally broken) of footage grabbed in actual locations. In his first outing as Jungle Jim (1948), former-Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller thwarted unscrupulous treasure seekers in a studio mock-up of equatorial Africa while Stewart Granger and Charlton Heston led expeditions through veldt and desert Hell in MGM's King Solomon's Mines (1950) and Paramount's Secret of the Incas (1954), respectively. (The latter, in which a whip-cracking Heston stomped the terra in a leather jacket and fedora, has been acknowledged by both Steven Spielberg and George Lucas as the principal inspiration for Raiders of the Lost Ark [1981].) Not to be outdone, the British got in on the act; though the comic Treasure Hunt (1952) was confined entirely within the hedgerows of a sprawling Irish estate, South of Algiers (1953) concerned a race across the Sahara to reach an ancient tomb purportedly bearing riches dating back to the Punic Wars. Released in the United States as The Golden Mask, this Mayflower Pictures Corporation production boasted not one but two American ringers as a lure for moviegoers worldwide. Van Heflin was by this point transitioning from leading man roles to character parts back home. The 1943 Academy Award winner's Hollywood career had enjoyed a considerable uptake with the success of George Stevens' Shane (1953), in which he was third-billed behind Alan Ladd and Jean Arthur, and he had also just come off of a strong performance as a cop turned killer in Joseph Losey's nervy noir The Prowler (1951). Adept at playing characters at home on both sides of the law, Heflin brought a persuasive ambiguity to his bid as a writer-for-hire who offers his services free of charge to archeologist Eric Portman while making a play for the considerably younger Wanda Hendrix. Between high profile but short-lived marriages to actor Audie Murphy and James Stack, millionaire brother of actor Robert Stack, Hendrix was nearing the end of her Hollywood tenure, though she would continue to act on episodic television and in independent features for another twenty years. Tapped by producers Aubrey Baring and Maxwell Setton to direct The Golden Mask was Jack Lee. A former documentary filmmaker, Lee had helmed a number of well-regarded short subjects reflecting life in Great Britain during the war before making his first narrative feature in 1947. Despite the success of and acclaim from his previous assignment, The Wooden Horse (1950), the fact-based chronicle of the escape of Allied POWs from a German concentration camp in 1943, Lee did not work again for a year. Cash-poor but hoping that The Golden Mask might prove more profitable, Lee signed onto the project, which he deemed "old hokum but quite fun." A negligible career-builder, The Golden Mask reached American shores as a United Artists acquisition. The film received amiably mixed notices, with The New York Times reserving praise for Lee's direction, the acting of Heflin and Portman, and Oswald Morris' vibrant cinematography. Lee would ultimately quit Britain for Australia, where he directed an award-winning adaptation of Neville Shute's novel A Town Like Alice in 1956 and later segued to commercial work. As chairman of the South Australian Film Commission from 1976 to 1981, Lee helped jump-start the careers of budding filmmakers Bruce Beresford and Peter Weir. He died in Sydney in 2002 at the age of 89. Producer: Aubrey Baring, Maxwell Setton Director: Jack Lee Screenplay: Robert Westerby Cinematography: Oswald Morris Editing: Vladimir Sagovsky Art Direction: Donald M. Ashton Music: Robert Gill Cast: Van Heflin (Nicholas Chapman), Wanda Hendrix (Anne Burnet), Eric Portman (Doctor Burnet), Charles Goldner (Petris), Jacques Francois (Jacques Farnod). C-88m. by Richard Harland Smith Sources: A Treasure Hard to Obtain: Images of Archeology in Popular Film by David Howard Day (Scarecrow Press, 1997) Jack Lee obituary by Tom Vallance, The Independent, October 23, 2002

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