Harry Steele (Charlton Heston) is an American living in Peru. Harry is an adventurer but at this moment he is giving guided tours in Cuzco. He is biding his time until he can do what he really wants. Find treasure. Inca treasure. To be specific Harry is looking for an Inca artifact called the Sunburst. The Sunburst is a gold disc encrusted with jewels.
Reportedly the artifact is somewhere in the ancient city of Machu Picchu. His nemesis Ed Morgan (Thomas Mitchell) is also looking for the Sunburst and he believes Harry knows where it is. Harry is in possession of a piece of stone that supposedly points to where the Sunburst is hidden. All Harry needs is an airplane to take him to Machu Picchu.
Elena Antonescu (Nichole Maurey) is a Romanian defector who is desperate to get to Mexico so she can make her way to America. Elena is dodging a man named Anton Marcu (Leon Askin). Anton is a Romanian official who has been trailing Elena trying to get her back. Harry decides to pretend to help Elena while actually helping himself. He contacts Anton and tells him where Elena is. Anton flies down in a private plane. Cuzco is high in the Andes and the thin air takes some getting used to. Harry gets Anton drunk and when he passes out, due to the thin air, Elena steals the keys to the plane. Harry steals the plane.
Once they get close to Machu Picchu Harry lands the plane and they walk to the ruins. When they get there they find that there is a large archaeological dig going on in conjunction with museums from New York, Mexico and Lima, Peru and overseen by the Peruvian government. The dig has just unearthed a mummy. Finding the mummy brings dozens and dozens of Inca to honor the mummy. With all these people around Harry is going to find it difficult to find and steal the Sunburst, if it really exists. To add to his problems slimy Morgan shows up wanting the Sunburst for himself.
“Secret of the Incas” was released in 1954 and was directed by Jerry Hopper. It is an American Adventure movie. It was filmed on location at Cuzco and Machu Picchu in Peru.
The film has been credited as being the inspiration for the Indiana Jones character. Harrison Ford’s outfit was modeled on Harry Steele’s leather jacket, tan pants and fedora. Even down to the over-shoulder pack and revolver. The costume designer on “Raiders”, Deborah Nadoolman Landis said she watched “Secret” several times. The film also has a reflecting light scene on par with the one Indiana has while he is in the Map Room. As far as other movie comparisons are concerned you won’t find as much swashbuckle and daredevil action as in the Indiana Jones movies but there is some. You also won’t find any CGI or fancy special effects. What you will find is a good story with good acting and great cinematography.
The movie features a couple songs by the Peruvian singer Yma Sumac AKA Ima or Imma Sumac. Sumac is noted for her four and a half octave vocal range and she uses that range in the songs she sings in the film. She was born in 1922 in the Peruvian town of Ichocan, high in the Andes Mountains. She immigrated to America in the 1940s. There is an Urban Legend that she was really a nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn named Amy Camus. The story originated as a joke among musicians and ended up repeated in the gossip columns. Sumac actually claimed to be a descendent of the last Incan emperor.