Cast & Crew
Francis L. Sullivan
In Oaxaca, Mexico, a judicial hearing is held to determine American tourist Al Colby's involvement with Mexican antiquities. At the behest of Mr. Carter, an employee of the U.S. consulate, Al tells the following story, which began one week earlier in Havana, Cuba: Needing money to pay his hotel bill, Al agrees to be hired by Anna Luz as a guide for herself and her invalid husband, Thomas Berrien. However, instead of touring the city, she takes him to her house, where Berrien, who is an antiquities collector, admits that he and Anna have a business proposition for him. Berrien explains that he has a small package containing a Mexican antiquity that he removed from that country illegally and that he wants to smuggle back, so that he can claim he found it there. As Berrien is well known by Mexican authorities and fears he would be searched by customs officials, he asks Al to take it for him via a freighter that is departing the next day. Promising to pay handsomely, Berrien instructs Al to take the package to the Hotel San Felipe in Oaxaca, where Berrien will meet him. When Al agrees to take the job, Berrien gives him some money, tickets for the freighter and the package, and promises to pay him in full at the hotel. On the freighter, Al meets a rugged-looking American, Jefferson, who claims to be an independent coffee broker. Al also meets the rich young American Julie Barnes and her companion, law student Raúl Cornejo, who is returning home from the U.S. Upon seeing Jefferson, Berrien, who is traveling on the same ship, warns Al that Jefferson may try to steal the package. Later, Al sees Jefferson and Anna talking and suspects that they are working together. Al's cabin is then ransacked, and he and Anna discover that Berrien, whose cabin was also ransacked, has suffered a fatal heart attack. Upon arriving in Oaxaca, Al proceeds to the hotel, followed by Anna. After checking in, he opens the package out of curiosity and discovers that it contains three sheets of old parchment inscribed with strange lettering and a small disc carved from jade. Al later dines with Anna, and, at the same restaurant, Al spots Jefferson with his associate, Captain Bergman. Claiming that she is really Berrien's illegitimate daughter, Anna says that the package now belongs to her and offers Al two thousand dollars for it, but he refuses to hand it over. Al instead shows one page of the parchment and the jade to a museum curator, who tells him the text is written in a mixture of Spanish and Zapotec, and, unable to decipher the latter, refers Al to Ubaldo Navarro, a collector who is one of the few people who can translate it. When he returns to the hotel, Jefferson, who is a failed archaeologist, holds up Al and takes the empty package, unaware that its contents are safely hidden. Later, Al makes copies of the manuscripts and, intending to show Navarro only individual words, cuts up the copies and makes a master list. With Julie, Al travels to the 1500 B.C. ruins of Monte Alban. Jefferson follows, and tells Julie that he believes Al has the full twelve pages of a manuscript that indicates the locations of Zapotecan treasures hidden from the invading Spaniards. As he can translate the pages, Jefferson makes a deal with Al to help locate and remove the treasures from Mexico and divide the profits between them. At the hotel, Al learns that Navarro, who Anna explains is her guardian, has tricked him and obtained the complete copy of the manuscript. Based on Jefferson's deciphering, Al and Jefferson journey to Zapotec ruins equipped for an archaelogical dig, hoping to beat Navarro and Raúl, but find that their nemeses are already there. Jefferson and Al locate a treasure-filled tomb, but Jefferson double-crosses Al and shoots him. Found and rescued by Navarro and Raúl, Al awakens in the Navarro household. The three agree to work together to recover the treasure and donate it to Mexico's national museum. Later, by following Bergman, Al and Anna discover Jefferson is hiding in a museum storehouse, preparing to leave with the treasure. When Al tries to stop Jefferson, the two exchange gunfire, which hits a large stone bust, causing it to topple over and fall onto Jefferson, killing him. At the hearing, the judge informs Al that charges against him have been dropped due to Navarro's influence. As his finding of the treasure benefitted Mexico, Al will receive a $25,000 reward, but is required to leave Oaxaca on the next plane. Upon boarding the plane, Al finds Anna waiting for him and they return to Cuba to find the remaining nine manuscript pages.
Francis L. Sullivan
Antonio Díaz Conde
Nate H. Edwards
James L. Fields
Ing. Manuel Topete Blake
Ing. Manuel Topete Blake
Plunder of the Sun
Based on a 1949 novel by David Dodge which was actually set among the Incan ruins of Peru, the screenplay was developed by producers John Wayne and Robert Fellows under their Wayne-Fellows partnership. Filming took place in late 1952 on location in Oaxaca, Mexico, and at a studio in Mexico City, and the picture was released in the summer of 1953 by Warner Brothers.
Co-starring with Ford were Diana Lynn and Patricia Medina, both of whom were nearing the end of their feature film careers. Diana Lynn did another Wayne-Fellows production after this one - Track of the Cat (1954), opposite Robert Mitchum, which was also the last of seven films produced by Wayne-Fellows before they dissolved their partnership and Wayne formed his own company, Batjac Productions. Lynn had found notable success as a teenage actress, in movies like The Major and the Minor (1942) and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944), but in her later films she had less luck with her roles, increasingly working in television and the theater which was more rewarding. She appeared in only five features after Plunder of the Sun.
Patricia Medina had more movies in front of her, but by 1958 she was also firmly entrenched in television. In 1960 she married Joseph Cotten, and they were still married when he died in 1994. Recalling Plunder of the Sun in her memoir Laid Back in Hollywood, Medina wrote, "Glenn [Ford] was not easy to work with, not like Alan Ladd and James Mason and Guy [Madison]. I think he had some personal problem. I learned he had been in love with Rita Hayworth and had never got over her. Well, for that, I can't blame him. Much later, I was invited for dinner at Glenn's house and as he greeted me he said, 'Ah, my favorite leading lady.' Now, I certainly didn't get the feeling that he was being sarcastic, so I guess he's only friendly off the set."
Glenn Ford had recently starred in The Big Heat (1953), one of his finest films. He was averaging three pictures a year at this point, some classic and some forgettable, but Blackboard Jungle (1955) and 3:10 to Yuma (1957) were right around the corner. Plunder director John Farrow, who was husband to Maureen O'Sullivan and father of Mia Farrow, had by this time built a solid career as a director of action and film noir. Among his credits were The Big Clock (1948), Where Danger Lives (1950), His Kind of Woman (1951), and the John Wayne western Hondo (1953) which was filmed shortly after Plunder of the Sun.
Producer: Robert Fellows, John Wayne
Director: John Farrow
Screenplay: David Dodge, Jonathan Latimer
Cinematography: Jack Draper
Film Editing: Harry Marker
Art Direction: Alfred Ybarra
Music: Antonio Diaz Conde, Enrique Fabregat, Marcos Jimenez, Jose Sabre Marroquin
Cast: Glenn Ford (Al Colby), Diana Lynn (Julie Barnes), Patricia Medina (Anna Luz), Francis L. Sullivan (Thomas Berrien), Sean McClory (Jefferson), Eduardo Noriega (Raul Cornejo).
by Jeremy Arnold
Plunder of the Sun
Sean McClory (1924-2003)
Born on March 8, 1924 in Dublin, Ireland, he became a leading man at the famous Abbey Theatre in the early '40s and relocated to the United States shortly after World War II. His first roles were small bits as a police officer in two RKO quickies: Dick Tracy's Dilemma and Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (both 1947). He eventually graduated to more prestigious pictures like The Glass Menagerie (1950), Les Miserables (1952) and John Ford's The Quiet Man (1952).
After a few more supporting roles in quality pictures: Niagara (1953); the sci-fi chiller Them! (1954); and for John Ford again in The Long Gay Line (1955), McClory turned to television. He kept busy for several years with guest roles in a variety of popular shows: Bonanza, Wagon Train, Rawhide, Gunsmoke, The Outer Limits (1964) and countless others. By the mid-'60s, McClory became slightly more heavy-set, and began tossing off variations of jovial, "oirish" blarney for, yet again John Ford in Cheyenne Autumn (1964); and in a string of Disney pictures: Follow Me, Boys! (1966, his best role, a moving performance as the alcoholic father whose behavior alienates his son, played by a 15-year old Kurt Russell); The Happiest Millionaire (1967), and The Gnome-Mobile (1967), before he returned to television. His final role was in John Huston's acclaimed Irish opus The Dead (1987). He is survived by his wife, Peggy Webber McClory.
by Michael T. Toole
Sean McClory (1924-2003)
The title of the film when it opened Mexico City was Pillaje al sol. A written acknowledgement at the end of the film expressed "gratitude to the wonderful people of Oaxaca, Veracruz and the Churubusco Asteca Studios in Mexico City for their help and cooperation." According to the statement, Plunder of the Sun "was filmed entirely in Mexico in the Zapotecan ruins of Mitla and Monte Alban." Reviews and Hollywood Reporter news items stated that most of the film was shot at Estudios Churubusco in Mexico City and on location in Vera Cruz and Oaxaca, Mexico, and a February 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item added that additional scenes were shot at the Goldwyn Studios in Los Angeles.
Actor Julio Villarreal's name was misspelled as "Villareal" in his onscreen credit. Although her appearance in the film has not been confirmed, a December 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Lupita Morán to the cast. According to a modern source, Hugo Friedhofer rewrote the main title and other parts of the score, after the film was scored in Mexico. According to a November 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, a combination camera and sound truck designed by RCA especially for Wayne-Fellows Productions was tested during the filming of Plunder of the Sun.