Cast & Crew
When an oil derrick belonging to wealthy Miguel Orlando explodes, his adopted son, Lago Orlando, and employees Milt Karger and Raoul Palma search for someone to put out the resulting fire. Learning that Texan Vic Scott, the best oilman in the business, is currently vacationing in Caracas, Venezuela, Milt, an old friend of Vic, immediately leaves Maracaibo, where Miguel's oil business is headquartered. Meanwhile, in Caracas, Vic has met fellow American Laura Kingsley, a novelist doing research in Venezuela. Vic is attracted to Laura, although she is wary of him, as she had witnessed him sending gifts to numerous paramours. Laura succumbs to Vic's persistence and charm, however, and the couple spends an exciting evening visiting nightclubs. Laura teases Vic about his womanizing, and he retorts that she needs to experience life and love rather than just writing about them. In the early morning, Milt finally finds Vic, and the drunken Laura persuades them to let her accompany them to Maracaibo. Laura sleeps during the plane ride and, awakening with a hangover, expresses reservations about having come. Milt assures her that she will be welcome, as she is one of Miguel's favorite authors, and Vic warns her that Miguel was rendered mute during an accident several years earlier. As they fly over Lake Maracaibo, Vic explains that the 130-mile-long lake contains over 6,000 oil wells. At Miguel's estate, Laura is introduced to Lago, who translates Miguel's sign language as he welcomes her. The men then go to the dock to survey the burning derrick, and Miguel explains to Vic that they cannot wait for the pressure to die down naturally due to a coming storm, which could push the flames into the town. Vic decides to scuba dive to install an underwater bleed-off valve, and thereby reduce the pressure before blasting the derrick to stop the oil flow. Milt sends for the necessary equipment and the men return to the estate, where they meet Elena Holbrook, Miguel's fiancée. Vic and Elena pretend not to know each other, but when Elena contrives to speak to Vic alone, she begs him not to tell Miguel about their past. Vic, who calls Elena a "tramp," caustically derides her assertion that she is making a new life for herself with Miguel. Meanwhile, Laura autographs one of her books for Miguel, who comments that while she writes knowingly of a woman's need for love, she never writes about the fulfillment of that need. That night, Vic and Laura leave a party celebrating Miguel and Elena's engagement to inspect the scuba gear. Vic explains to Laura that he fights oil fires because he was poor as a child and wants wealth, but when she questions him further, he confesses that he enjoys the status of being one of very few men who can do the dangerous job. They kiss, but Laura pushes Vic away and explains that she cannot be with him if he is thinking of Elena, with whom it is obvious he shares a past. Vic attempts to explain that their relationship is over, but Laura does not believe him and he angrily escorts her home. Laura seeks solace in the library, where she bumps into Miguel. Using notepaper, Miguel explains to Laura that both she and Vic seem to be afraid to fall in love, but that it would be best for her to tell Vic how she feels. Laura affirms that she cares more for Vic than she has for any other man, while in Elena's room, Lago is confronting her with a dossier he has compiled of her many love affairs. Insisting that she call off the wedding, Lago leaves, and Elena goes to Vic for comfort. Vic reminds her that while they were engaged, he walked in on her with another man, but Elena asserts that she turned to someone else only after Vic could not give her the love and respect she desired. Elena pleads with Vic to resume their relationship, but after he orders her to leave, Laura sees Elena exiting Vic's room and decides not to approach him. In the morning, Vic and the others are waiting at the dock for the rest of the equipment when Laura arrives to wish them good luck. Laura reveals that she saw Elena the night before, and Vic admits that they were engaged but things ended badly. Laura confesses that she loves Vic, but the amazed oilman replies that he is not right for her. Vic then joins Milt, Raoul and Lago on a small boat, and after they get as close as they can to the burning derrick, Vic urges them to put on their heavy, flame-retardant gear before he dives. Vic is able to install the valve but part of the derrick collapses, and shooting flames engulf Lago, who was unable to bear wearing the heavy hood of his gear. With a grief-stricken Miguel by his side, Lago dies at the mansion. Elena then seeks Vic's advice, telling him that she truly loves Miguel and wants to leave before he finds out about her past. Vic advises her to stay, as Miguel needs her now more than ever, but Elena remains doubtful. Laura then pressures Vic to be honest with her, and he reveals that he is deeply in love with her. As they happily embrace, Vic promises her that this will be his last fire. Vic then goes to the dock so that he can use the just-arrived nitroglycerine to blow up the derrick. While Laura watches from the shore, Vic goes out with Raoul and Milt, who insists that Vic wear a protective tow line. Despite Milt's precautions, the tow line gets cut, and when the boat must change position to avoid the flames, which are being driven by the increasing winds, Vic becomes lost underneath the burning oil. Not knowing that Vic was unable to reach the boat, Laura is happy to see the explosion, which quenches the flames. Back at the mansion, Elena comforts Laura, who is by now worried about Vic's prolonged absence, then goes to say goodbye to Miguel. Giving him Lago's dossier on her, Elena tells Miguel that she is not good enough for him, but after Miguel tears up the papers and assures Elena that he needs her, she tearfully promises to be a good wife. The distraught Laura learns from Milt that Vic is missing and presumed dead, but as she cries, she hears Vic's familiar call of "Hey, buddy-buddy." After Laura runs into his arms, Vic explains that he swam under the flames to shore and hitched a ride to the mansion. Thrilled to see his friend alive, Milt decides to get drunk and leaves the couple in a passionate embrace.
Joe E. Ross
Amapola Del Vando
Luis Cabello Jr.
John P. Fulton
Joseph Macmillan Johnson
Sydney La Vine
Although the title of the viewed print and all contemporary reviews was Maracaibo, a May 20, 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that the picture's title was changed to Violent Venezuela "in the hinterlands." The film's onscreen music credits read: "Music scored by Laurindo Almeida/Guitar solos by Mr. Almeida/Song "Maracaibo" by Jefferson Pascal and Laurindo Almeida, Sung by Miss Wallace." According to a March 28, 1955 Daily Variety news item, the screen rights to Stirling Silliphant's novel were originally purchased by Universal-International and the project was to be produced by Howard Christie. In July 1955, Los Angeles Times announced that producer Bert Friedlob, director Fritz Lang and screenwriter David Boehm were about to begin work on a film entitled Maracaibo, but it has not been determined if their never-filmed project was to be based on Silliphant's novel.
Los Angeles Times reported in February 1957 that Lana Turner had been scheduled to star in the Universal production, which was to be filmed on location in Venezuela, but due to hazardous weather conditions there, she would instead appear in The Lady Takes a Flyer. In early September 1957, Variety announced that Paramount had purchased the project for Cornel Wilde's independent Theodora Productions. The same Variety news item stated that Aaron Rosenberg had been slated to produce the picture for Universal.
Although a November 25, 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item includes Roy Averse, Jose Portugal, Gil Barreto and Fernando Gonzalez in the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed. The film's pressbook and reviews noted that some sequences were shot on location in Caracas and Maracaibo, Venezuela and at the resort of Macuto Beach, near Caracas. The Hollywood Reporter review noted that "the hair-raising fire backgrounds" were shot at the Salton Sea in California. An item in Hollywood Reporter's "Rambling Reporter" column stated that the mansion belonging to "Miguel Orlando" was actually that of producer Cecil B. DeMille. In August 1958, the "Rambling Reporter" noted that Maracaibo and Wilde's previous independent production for Paramount, The Devil's Hairpin, were so successful that the company realized a profit of $500,000 each on them.
According to a February 1966 Hollywood Reporter news item, the film was to be telecast on NBC that evening for a fee of $350,000. The news item further noted that the picture originally had a negative cost of less than $1,000,000. In 1972, Hollywood Reporter reported that Wilde acquired the television distribution rights to Maracaibo and The Devil's Hairpin, and that Maracaibo had "just been leased to CBS for the late, late show for three runs."
Released in United States Fall September 1958
Released in United States Fall September 1958