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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Columbia's Crew Gets Gold Fever


Ida Lupino and Glenn Ford Share a Lust For Gold (1949)

Did not realize there was twenty million in gold secreted in a real-life Arizona "lost mine," but here's the (largely fictionalized) account of lives lost trying to get at it. Columbia goes ambitious toward their own Treasure Of The Sierra Madre and hands Glenn Ford a rare heavy lead; he kills plenty here and no repentance follows. The bookends are modern set, a grandson of Ford's seeking leads to treasure, but is there a killer loose yet? Lust For Gold has a gimmick that surely grabbed in 1949: seems the AZ legend has basis in fact and any of us can go there and search for gold, with option to keep whatever fortune we find. Stunner location work was done at Superstition Mountain itself, a cast fist-fighting and falling off to engaging effect. Is there anything so surprising as a movie earthquake when it's not been set up by the plot? Ida Lupino is Stanwyck-ruthless as a gold-starved wife who cheats Gig Young to treasure hunt with Ford. The melodrama mid-section is actually less involving than wrap-arounds set in here-and-now ('49, that is). Lust For Gold earned $1.2 million in domestic rentals to Treasure Of Sierra Madre's $2.7. Did Bogart compel more as a gold-seeker than Glenn Ford?

3 Comments:

Blogger John McElwee said...

Richard Roberts, who knows plenty about Arizona for living there, supplies some interesting detail about true stories behind "Lust For Gold":


John,

The Lost Dutchman was indeed more than a legend in Arizona folklore, at least to the extent that there was indeed a “lost Dutchman”, actually German, names Jacob Waltz who claimed to have discovered the mine, but the ensuing gossip surrounding his claims have blown them all out of proportions, Waltz died in 1891 and left only a 160 acre farm of which he had made his living. The big legend of the Lost Dutchman mine starts in 1931 when the skull of Adolph Ruth, an amateur explorer and adventurer, was found in the Superstitions with a shotgun hole in the cranium. Ruth was known to have been searching for the mine for some time, and in fact, when the rest of his remains and personal belongings were found, his checkbook had a note in it indicating that he had indeed found the mine. The Arizona Authorities, about as good then as now, ruled the death a “suicide” and never conducted a criminal investigation, but the resultant newpaper coverage guaranteed the Lost Dutchman Mine was ingrained in Arizona History.

The Superstition Mountains are a neat place to wander around, as long as you don’t wander too far, they are an easy place to get lost as they are made up of a number of peaks that look almost exactly alike, making navigation through them an interesting and problematic experience. Apparently a number of other folk have been found dead wandering around out there, sometimes other boneheads looking for the supposed mine (ironically, the Superstitions are not the type of Mountains or geological area likely to have gold in them in the first place).

My parents remember the Glenn Ford movie being shot out here, but they don’t remember ever seeing it, nor can I say I’ve ever come across it. Where did you see it? Oddly enough, the supposed Lost Dutchman “curse” may have extended itself to the films Director, S. Sylvan Simon, who did not make another picture after it, and in 1951, his sudden death from “heart attack” at the age of 41 supposedly shocked the Hollywood Community, but he hadn’t made another film in the two years following LUST FOR GOLD, so go figure what the real story surrounding his death was.

RICHARD

10:52 AM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Have not seen this one, will track it down if only because of its status as S. Sylvan Simon's last. Always thought he was one MGM house director who added a little personality to whatever assignment was at hand. Not to mention the fact, he seemed to be the only guy on the lot who could direct a really funny Red Skelton picture (his penultimate effort THE FULLER BRUSH MAN, also for Columbia, is, for my money, his all time best.)

And while I'm on the keyboard, John, I just gotta say how thrilled I am with SHOWMEN, SELL IT HOT. Fell off my wallet last week (finally) and snagged a copy... just wonderful! I suppose I'm the last regular reader of this blog to buy it, but if there are any other procrastinating hold-outs out there, drop everything and order it now!

11:24 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Thanks a lot, Dave. The book seems to be selling at an even pace right now, and certainly word-of-mouth like yours helps a lot.

11:56 AM  

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