Lust for Gold


1h 30m 1949
Lust for Gold

Brief Synopsis

A German immigrant braves the wild West in search of gold and a woman to love.

Film Details

Also Known As
Bonanza, For Those Who Dare, Greed, Superstition Mountain
Genre
Drama
Western
Release Date
Jun 1949
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book Thunder God's Gold by Barry Storm (Tortilla Flat, AZ, 1945).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Barry Storm, the grandson of Jacob Walz, who in 1880 was the owner of the Lost Dutchman mine, surreptitiously follows Floyd Buckley as he searches for the mine in Arizona's Superstition Mountains. When Buckley is murdered by a sniper, Barry hikes back to town to report his death. The sheriff tells Barry that twenty-one men have been murdered while searching for the mine, and Buckley is the fourth to have been shot in the same area with the same gun. Barry knows that one hundred years earlier the Peralta brothers: Pedro, Ramon and Manuel, discovered the mine: After Ramon returns home, the other miners are attacked by an Apache. The brothers cover the entrance to the mine and attempt to escape, but are killed by the Indian. After he reflects on the past, Barry takes deputy sheriff Ray Covin to the place where Buckley was killed and then stays behind to continue his search for the mine. He accidentally stumbles on an ancient rifle, which he believes might have belonged to Walz. Sheriff Lynn Early sends Barry to an old folks home near Phoenix, and there, Mrs. Martha Bannister and Bill Bates tell Barry what they know about his grandfather: Walz encounters Ramon Peralta and Ludi, his American companion, in a small town near the Superstitions and, with his friend Wiser, follows them through the mountains. One night, Peralta and Ludi wait for moonlight to strike a certain spot, then start digging. Walz kills all the others and then fills his own pockets with gold. After Walz returns to town with the gold, Julia Thomas, who owns the bakery, becomes determined to get the gold and leave her fugitive husband Pete. Chance favors her plans when a drunken Walz collapses in front of her shop. She puts him to bed, and in the morning, pretends disinterest in his gold. When Walz learns that Julia speaks German, he begins to court her. No one dares to tell the quick-tempered Walz that Julia is already married, but Julia offers the information herself, explaining that she no longer loves her husband. After Walz offers to pay Pete to divorce her, he accidentally learns that Julia is not separated from Pete as she has told him, and becomes convinced that Julia is after his money like everyone else. Later, Walz gives Julia a map of the mine and asks her to meet him there. When Julia and Pete reach the mine, Walz hides their burros and supplies and watches from a hiding place as they grow weak from hunger and thirst. A desperate Julia kills Pete with a knife and begs Walz to help her. Walz shows her no sympathy, and later, an earthquake buries Julia and the mine. When Barry's research confirms some of the details of this story, he becomes convinced that he can discover the buried mine. Once again, he explores the Superstitions and finally locates one of the landmarks. Covin, who has been looking for the mine for twenty years, tries to shoot Barry, as he has the other treasure hunters. He then struggles with Barry, but falls to his death after he is bitten by a rattlesnake. Early, who suspected that Covin was the murderer, arrives, having followed Covin at a distance. Together, Barry and Early wait for the moon to rise, but quickly realize that unless they know the exact date on which the moonlight will hit the entrance to the mine, they will never find it.

Film Details

Also Known As
Bonanza, For Those Who Dare, Greed, Superstition Mountain
Genre
Drama
Western
Release Date
Jun 1949
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the book Thunder God's Gold by Barry Storm (Tortilla Flat, AZ, 1945).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Lust for Gold - Lust For Gold


Ida Lupino once quipped that she was the poor man's Bette Davis, referring to her second-string position below the queen of the Warner Brothers lot when Lupino was also under contract there in the 1940s. But in Lust for Gold (1949), made at Columbia after she left Warners, she plays a role much closer to the type for which Barbara Stanwyck was known, that of a dominating and none too honest woman, ambitious and willing to do anything to get what she wants, in this case gold and a lot of it.

The story is based on an actual legend; that of the Lost Dutchman Mine, believed to be located somewhere near the aptly named Superstition Mountain east of Phoenix, Arizona. According to lore, the rich vein of gold was known to the Apache for many years, who refused to touch it for fear of the gods who guarded it. The first person to allegedly work the mine was a wealthy rancher named Peralta who, along with his workers, was massacred by the Indians. This part of the legend is the rough basis for one section of this multi-part movie (covering three different time periods).

The bulk of the film follows the exploits of Jacob Walz, a German (mislabeled "Dutchman") prospector who, along with another German named Jacob Weiser or Wisner, either killed some Mexican miners who had stumbled upon the site or saved the life of a Peralta descendant who gave them directions to the mine as a reward, according to the legend. Along the way, Weiser was killed either by Indians or Walz himself. In any case, it was said that Walz kept the location secret, disappearing to harvest his riches, then reappearing in Phoenix with more gold. Years later, a widow named Julia Thomas befriended (and perhaps became romantically involved with) the aged Walz, who promised to take her to his mine but died before he could do that. Since then, many have gone in search of the legendary lode without luck, and stories of mysterious and violent deaths have become a staple of the myth.

In the main part of this story, Glenn Ford plays Walz and Edgar Buchanan is a character named Wiser, based on the other Jacob. Lupino is Julia Thomas, but instead of a kindly widow, she is depicted as a greedy, scheming woman who pushes her weak-willed husband (Gig Young) into a quest for the gold, even while she carries on an ill-conceived liaison with Walz. Needless to say, in keeping with the legend, things end badly for all concerned. In a modern-day framing story, Walz's grandson is seen contending with a crooked deputy sheriff (Will Geer) in searching for the lost gold. The grandson bears the name Barry Storm, the author of the book on which the film is based.

Lust for Gold has a prologue attesting to the "true facts" represented in the story, "as substantiated by historical records and legends," signed by the governor of Arizona. At the end of the movie, viewers are teased with the possibility that $20 million dollars (in 1949 money) is still out there for the taking. Over the years, many have tried to locate the mine, some meeting strange and tragic results, while others have made bogus claims of finding it. Yet the legend lives on.

Although a relatively minor role for her, Lupino was reportedly very engaged during production, remaining on the set even when she wasn't filming, closely watching director and technicians at work. Right around this time, she met Italian director Roberto Rossellini, one of the major forces in the neorealist style coming from his country after World War II. Rossellini expressed to her his criticisms of Hollywood product and asked, "When are you [meaning the American film industry] going to make pictures about ordinary people in ordinary situations?" The conversation apparently had an impact on the actress; the same year as Lust for Gold's release, she took over for ailing director Elmer Clifton on a script she had co-written and co-produced, Not Wanted (1949), a low-budget melodrama that launched her new career as the most successful and prolific female director of her era, and a purveyor of gritty, unglamorous melodramas.

Several players in the cast of Lust for Gold will be familiar to audiences from other work. Gig Young was a popular leading man and supporting player for several decades and an Oscar® winner for his work in the Depression-era drama They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969). Jay Silverheels went on to play the Lone Ranger's faithful companion Tonto on TV in the 50s. The grizzled character actor Edgar Buchanan was in well over 100 movies and TV shows, and played old Uncle Joe in the hit 60s sitcom Petticoat Junction. Not long after this release, Will Geer became a victim of the Hollywood blacklist, emerging years later as Grandpa on the bucolic TV series The Waltons. In an uncredited part as Peralta is Antonio Moreno, a major leading man in the silent age opposite such screen sirens as Pola Negri, Gloria Swanson and Greta Garbo. Moreno was one of four Hollywood denizens (the others being Clara Bow, Rex the Wild Stallion, and the doorman at the Ambassador Hotel) famously said by scandalous author Elinor Glyn to have "It," Glyn's euphemism for sexual appeal. Not so coincidentally, Moreno co-starred with Bow (though not the other two) in the 1927 screen adaptation of Glyn's book, It.

Veteran cinematographer Archie Stout had shot countless Westerns prior to this, including John Ford's Fort Apache (1948). He later shot three movies directed by Lupino and won an Academy Award for his work on Ford's The Quiet Man (1952).

Director: S. Sylvan Simon
Producer: S. Sylvan Simon
Screenplay: Ted Sherdeman, Richard English, based on the book Thunder God's Gold by Barry Storm
Cinematography: Archie Stout
Editing: Gene Havlick
Art Direction: Carl Anderson
Original Music: George Duning
Cast: Glenn Ford (Jacob Walz), Ida Lupino (Julia Thomas), Gig Young (Pete Thomas), William Prince (Barry Storm), Paul Ford (Sheriff Lynn Early).
BW-90m.

by Rob Nixon
Lust For Gold - Lust For Gold

Lust for Gold - Lust For Gold

Ida Lupino once quipped that she was the poor man's Bette Davis, referring to her second-string position below the queen of the Warner Brothers lot when Lupino was also under contract there in the 1940s. But in Lust for Gold (1949), made at Columbia after she left Warners, she plays a role much closer to the type for which Barbara Stanwyck was known, that of a dominating and none too honest woman, ambitious and willing to do anything to get what she wants, in this case gold and a lot of it. The story is based on an actual legend; that of the Lost Dutchman Mine, believed to be located somewhere near the aptly named Superstition Mountain east of Phoenix, Arizona. According to lore, the rich vein of gold was known to the Apache for many years, who refused to touch it for fear of the gods who guarded it. The first person to allegedly work the mine was a wealthy rancher named Peralta who, along with his workers, was massacred by the Indians. This part of the legend is the rough basis for one section of this multi-part movie (covering three different time periods). The bulk of the film follows the exploits of Jacob Walz, a German (mislabeled "Dutchman") prospector who, along with another German named Jacob Weiser or Wisner, either killed some Mexican miners who had stumbled upon the site or saved the life of a Peralta descendant who gave them directions to the mine as a reward, according to the legend. Along the way, Weiser was killed either by Indians or Walz himself. In any case, it was said that Walz kept the location secret, disappearing to harvest his riches, then reappearing in Phoenix with more gold. Years later, a widow named Julia Thomas befriended (and perhaps became romantically involved with) the aged Walz, who promised to take her to his mine but died before he could do that. Since then, many have gone in search of the legendary lode without luck, and stories of mysterious and violent deaths have become a staple of the myth. In the main part of this story, Glenn Ford plays Walz and Edgar Buchanan is a character named Wiser, based on the other Jacob. Lupino is Julia Thomas, but instead of a kindly widow, she is depicted as a greedy, scheming woman who pushes her weak-willed husband (Gig Young) into a quest for the gold, even while she carries on an ill-conceived liaison with Walz. Needless to say, in keeping with the legend, things end badly for all concerned. In a modern-day framing story, Walz's grandson is seen contending with a crooked deputy sheriff (Will Geer) in searching for the lost gold. The grandson bears the name Barry Storm, the author of the book on which the film is based. Lust for Gold has a prologue attesting to the "true facts" represented in the story, "as substantiated by historical records and legends," signed by the governor of Arizona. At the end of the movie, viewers are teased with the possibility that $20 million dollars (in 1949 money) is still out there for the taking. Over the years, many have tried to locate the mine, some meeting strange and tragic results, while others have made bogus claims of finding it. Yet the legend lives on. Although a relatively minor role for her, Lupino was reportedly very engaged during production, remaining on the set even when she wasn't filming, closely watching director and technicians at work. Right around this time, she met Italian director Roberto Rossellini, one of the major forces in the neorealist style coming from his country after World War II. Rossellini expressed to her his criticisms of Hollywood product and asked, "When are you [meaning the American film industry] going to make pictures about ordinary people in ordinary situations?" The conversation apparently had an impact on the actress; the same year as Lust for Gold's release, she took over for ailing director Elmer Clifton on a script she had co-written and co-produced, Not Wanted (1949), a low-budget melodrama that launched her new career as the most successful and prolific female director of her era, and a purveyor of gritty, unglamorous melodramas. Several players in the cast of Lust for Gold will be familiar to audiences from other work. Gig Young was a popular leading man and supporting player for several decades and an Oscar® winner for his work in the Depression-era drama They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969). Jay Silverheels went on to play the Lone Ranger's faithful companion Tonto on TV in the 50s. The grizzled character actor Edgar Buchanan was in well over 100 movies and TV shows, and played old Uncle Joe in the hit 60s sitcom Petticoat Junction. Not long after this release, Will Geer became a victim of the Hollywood blacklist, emerging years later as Grandpa on the bucolic TV series The Waltons. In an uncredited part as Peralta is Antonio Moreno, a major leading man in the silent age opposite such screen sirens as Pola Negri, Gloria Swanson and Greta Garbo. Moreno was one of four Hollywood denizens (the others being Clara Bow, Rex the Wild Stallion, and the doorman at the Ambassador Hotel) famously said by scandalous author Elinor Glyn to have "It," Glyn's euphemism for sexual appeal. Not so coincidentally, Moreno co-starred with Bow (though not the other two) in the 1927 screen adaptation of Glyn's book, It. Veteran cinematographer Archie Stout had shot countless Westerns prior to this, including John Ford's Fort Apache (1948). He later shot three movies directed by Lupino and won an Academy Award for his work on Ford's The Quiet Man (1952). Director: S. Sylvan Simon Producer: S. Sylvan Simon Screenplay: Ted Sherdeman, Richard English, based on the book Thunder God's Gold by Barry Storm Cinematography: Archie Stout Editing: Gene Havlick Art Direction: Carl Anderson Original Music: George Duning Cast: Glenn Ford (Jacob Walz), Ida Lupino (Julia Thomas), Gig Young (Pete Thomas), William Prince (Barry Storm), Paul Ford (Sheriff Lynn Early). BW-90m. by Rob Nixon

Lust for Gold on DVD


It's fitting that the gold-and-greed tale Lust for Gold is a little nugget of cinematic buried treasure. Made in the wake of the previous year's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, this 1949 release is an overachieving example of the Hollywood studio system's assembly-line moviemaking. Producer-director S. Sylvan Simon's lean, efficient western drama seems to fall somewhere between an "A" picture and a "B" picture. Jerry Vermilye's 1977 book Ida Lupino refers to it as "underpromoted," so perhaps Columbia Pictures treated it as a B-movie during its initial release (and continued to, as the movie skipped the VHS era entirely). But it also features Glenn Ford and Lupino, veterans of many "A" pictures, who give the movie star power.

The presence of Lupino is part of what makes Lust for Gold special. It lets a woman claw in the dirt with the men, and who better to do that then Lupino? Like Barbara Stanwyck, Lupino always brushed off any kid glove treatment for her characters, and mixed it up as good as the men around her did. She made this shortly after letting her Warner Bros. contract lapse, and just after making Road House, in which she played perhaps the most hardboiled character of her career. If her Julia in Lust for Gold is less hardboiled, it isn't by much. She's a married woman in 1870s Arizona with a washout of a husband (Gig Young) and an eye for the gold discovered by Jacob Walz (Ford), a Dutch immigrant who murdered his way into a trove of hidden riches. Julia bullies husband Pete into clearing out while she sets her sights on Walz, who thinks she's single and blissfully unconcerned with his gold.

Julia proclaims her love for Walz and, when he's not around, tells Pete she's getting the gold to upgrade their future together. When Walz finds out she's hitched and Pete injects himself into the situation, it sets up a brutal showdown in the remote canyon where the trove of gold is. At different times in the climax, Julia pledges her love to each of the men, but we know she's only out for herself. That frontier treachery - which would be right at home on Deadwood - is what makes her so interesting to watch.

Besides Lupino, the other interesting wrinkle in Lust for Gold is that its two stars appear entirely in flashback, and that it's split fairly evenly between a present-day story and the 1870s scenes. The present-day drama has to do with the legends lingering from the 1870s action and the continued search for Walz's elusive gold, which was originally the stash of three Spanish brothers. In the present-day action, a number of men have been shot while exploring the canyon, and the latest to start poking around is Barry Storm (William Prince), Walz's grandson. Although Prince is fairly bland - he followed this by playing ultra-bland Christian in Jose Ferrer's Cyrano de Bergerac - the present-day tale has spark, too, as he enlists the help of the local sheriff (Paul Ford) and his deputies (Will Geer, Jay Silverheels) and gets into a thrilling little scuffle with the murderer at the movie's end. (Barry's frequent narration presents the 1870s legend and the lost gold as fact, and the movie adapts a book by Barry Storm, but I don't know whether naming the character after the author is just a bit of ballyhoo added to the story.)

Lust for Gold zips along so smoothly that one of the few snags, besides the sometimes jarring switches between real exteriors and studio sets, is the Dutch/German accent Ford's Walz suddenly picks up during the mid-section of the movie, and then drops again. This gives Ford's otherwise strong performance, one of the rare times he played a heel, an odd edge. Maybe this on-and-off accent is a consequence of producer Simon taking over for original director George Marshall (Destry Rides Again), and the two differing on whether Ford should use the accent. So although Lust for Gold is very good and arrives as part of a quintet of Ford westerns Sony has just released, it's perhaps least interesting as a Ford vehicle. Still, despite the no-frills Lust for Gold disc perfectly suiting this no-frills movie, it's a little puzzling why Sony didn't cobble together a featurette on Ford's career to be shared by these discs to familiarize younger viewers about him, as his last significant big-screen starring vehicles came 40 years ago.

For more information about Lust for Gold, visit Sony Pictures. To order Lust for Gold, go to TCM Shopping.

by Paul Sherman

Lust for Gold on DVD

It's fitting that the gold-and-greed tale Lust for Gold is a little nugget of cinematic buried treasure. Made in the wake of the previous year's The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, this 1949 release is an overachieving example of the Hollywood studio system's assembly-line moviemaking. Producer-director S. Sylvan Simon's lean, efficient western drama seems to fall somewhere between an "A" picture and a "B" picture. Jerry Vermilye's 1977 book Ida Lupino refers to it as "underpromoted," so perhaps Columbia Pictures treated it as a B-movie during its initial release (and continued to, as the movie skipped the VHS era entirely). But it also features Glenn Ford and Lupino, veterans of many "A" pictures, who give the movie star power. The presence of Lupino is part of what makes Lust for Gold special. It lets a woman claw in the dirt with the men, and who better to do that then Lupino? Like Barbara Stanwyck, Lupino always brushed off any kid glove treatment for her characters, and mixed it up as good as the men around her did. She made this shortly after letting her Warner Bros. contract lapse, and just after making Road House, in which she played perhaps the most hardboiled character of her career. If her Julia in Lust for Gold is less hardboiled, it isn't by much. She's a married woman in 1870s Arizona with a washout of a husband (Gig Young) and an eye for the gold discovered by Jacob Walz (Ford), a Dutch immigrant who murdered his way into a trove of hidden riches. Julia bullies husband Pete into clearing out while she sets her sights on Walz, who thinks she's single and blissfully unconcerned with his gold. Julia proclaims her love for Walz and, when he's not around, tells Pete she's getting the gold to upgrade their future together. When Walz finds out she's hitched and Pete injects himself into the situation, it sets up a brutal showdown in the remote canyon where the trove of gold is. At different times in the climax, Julia pledges her love to each of the men, but we know she's only out for herself. That frontier treachery - which would be right at home on Deadwood - is what makes her so interesting to watch. Besides Lupino, the other interesting wrinkle in Lust for Gold is that its two stars appear entirely in flashback, and that it's split fairly evenly between a present-day story and the 1870s scenes. The present-day drama has to do with the legends lingering from the 1870s action and the continued search for Walz's elusive gold, which was originally the stash of three Spanish brothers. In the present-day action, a number of men have been shot while exploring the canyon, and the latest to start poking around is Barry Storm (William Prince), Walz's grandson. Although Prince is fairly bland - he followed this by playing ultra-bland Christian in Jose Ferrer's Cyrano de Bergerac - the present-day tale has spark, too, as he enlists the help of the local sheriff (Paul Ford) and his deputies (Will Geer, Jay Silverheels) and gets into a thrilling little scuffle with the murderer at the movie's end. (Barry's frequent narration presents the 1870s legend and the lost gold as fact, and the movie adapts a book by Barry Storm, but I don't know whether naming the character after the author is just a bit of ballyhoo added to the story.) Lust for Gold zips along so smoothly that one of the few snags, besides the sometimes jarring switches between real exteriors and studio sets, is the Dutch/German accent Ford's Walz suddenly picks up during the mid-section of the movie, and then drops again. This gives Ford's otherwise strong performance, one of the rare times he played a heel, an odd edge. Maybe this on-and-off accent is a consequence of producer Simon taking over for original director George Marshall (Destry Rides Again), and the two differing on whether Ford should use the accent. So although Lust for Gold is very good and arrives as part of a quintet of Ford westerns Sony has just released, it's perhaps least interesting as a Ford vehicle. Still, despite the no-frills Lust for Gold disc perfectly suiting this no-frills movie, it's a little puzzling why Sony didn't cobble together a featurette on Ford's career to be shared by these discs to familiarize younger viewers about him, as his last significant big-screen starring vehicles came 40 years ago. For more information about Lust for Gold, visit Sony Pictures. To order Lust for Gold, go to TCM Shopping. by Paul Sherman

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film's working titles were Superstition Mountain, Greed, and Bonanza. Hollywood Reporter reviewed the film under the title For Those Who Dare. On September 2, 1948, Los Angeles Times announced that George Marshall was to direct the film. Later, he was replaced by S. Sylvan Simon. Barry Storm's book was a documentary account of the actual Lost Dutchman mine and the cruel fates of those who tried to find it. He was not related to Jacob Walz. In 1955, according to a 29 November Hollywood Reporter news item, Storm, the nom de plume of John Griffith Climenson, sued Columbia for libel, stating that he was falsely portrayed in the film as the "illegitimate grandson of an Arizona frontier character, Jacob Walz." According to a modern source, the suit was settled out of court.