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Treasure of the Golden Condor

Treasure of the Golden Condor(1953)


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In the eighteenth century, Edouard, Marquis of St. Malo, returns to his lavish chateau in Normandy to inform his wife Annette that he has located his late brother Paul's son Jean-Paul, who is supposedly illegitimate. Edouard finds Jean-Paul with his grandfather, Pierre Champlain, and tricks the illiterate boy by telling him that he will live a life of luxury at the chateau. In reality, Edouard has obtained a royal writ giving him claim to Jean-Paul as a bondsman, and as the boy grows to manhood, Edouard forces him to work in the stables. Jean-Paul falls in love with Edouard's arrogant daughter Marie, who returns his affections but is more interested in wealth than in love. Believing that if he stays, he will eventually kill the sadistic Edouard, Jean-Paul plans to run away. Meanwhile, Scotsman MacDougal arrives in the village in search of Father Benoit, who was once a missionary in Guatemala and is a renowned scholar of Mayan texts. MacDougal asks the priest to translate a codex indicating the location of the famed treasure of the golden condor, but when Father Benoit learns that MacDougal has killed to protect the map, he refuses to aid him. Father Benoit instead takes MacDougal to dine with him at the St. Malo estate, where, later that night, Edouard discovers Jean-Paul and Marie meeting in secret. Edouard challenges Jean-Paul to a fight using the new rules of pugilism, but attacks Jean-Paul while he is removing his coat and beats him into unconsciousness. Sickened by Edouard's cruelty, Father Benoit promises to translate MacDougal's map if the Scotsman allows Jean-Paul to accompany him to Guatemala and share in the treasure. Edouard has Pierre imprisoned, and although Jean-Paul wants to stay to help his grandfather, MacDougal urges him to find the treasure first. Jean-Paul and MacDougal then begin the journey to Guatemala, and when they reach MacDougal's home in Antigua, the Scotsman is horrifed to see that powerful earthquakes have devastated the region. He is relieved to find his daughter Clara alive, but the attractive woman, who blames him for the death of her mother from jungle fever, is furious about his intention to search the highlands once again for the treasure. Clara is cool to Jean-Paul, but soon the trio enter the dangerous jungle. Eventually, MacDougal despairs of ever finding Maya Land, the location of the treasure, and is about to give up. Jean-Paul determines to press on, however, and Clara angrily reproaches him for driving her father onward. Jean-Paul replies that he is seeking the treasure in order to redress wrongs against his family, rather than for its own sake, and Clara repents her outspokenness. MacDougal soon finds the lake at the beginning of Maya Land, and the trio descend into the village of the primitive Quiche Indians, who believe that they are gods. After celebrating their arrival, the Quiche lead the trio to Tikal, the entrance to the ruins containing the treasure. Jean-Paul and MacDougal then enter the ruins and find the treasure room, which contains vast riches. As they stuff their bags with golden idols, emeralds and jade, the men are alarmed by the appearance of an enormous boa constrictor. As they try to escape from the serpent and a steadily increasing earthquake, MacDougal falls into a pit, breaking his hip, and Jean-Paul rushes to get Clara. Jean-Paul succeeds in killing the snake, and he and Clara pull MacDougal to safety just as the earthquake seals the ruins forever. During his convalescence, MacDougal finds peace among the kind-hearted Indians and announces his intention to remain there with Clara. MacDougal gives Jean-Paul his share of the treasure, and despite his growing feelings for Clara, Jean-Paul returns to France. He first goes to Paris, where he asks influential businessman Raoul Dondel to help him establish his right to the St. Malo estate. Dondel promises to obtain results within a month, and Jean-Paul travels to Normandy to reunite with Marie. Despite being thrilled by the emerald necklace Jean-Paul gives her, Marie worries about his attempt to gain her father's title and alerts the authorities after he confides his hiding place to her. Jean-Paul is arrested and tried for escaping from his master, and because he offers no defense, is found guilty. Just before the magistrate sentences him, however, Dondel arrives and supplies proof that Jean-Paul's parents were legally married, and that he is therefore the rightful Marquis de St. Malo. The case against Jean-Paul is dismissed, and the conniving Marie plots to ingratiate herself with him. Her scheme is ruined, however, when Jean-Paul overhears as Edouard threatens to reveal that Marie was his betrayer. Jean-Paul then bests Edouard in a fierce fight and dismisses Marie. After dividing the St. Malo estate between Pierre, Benoit and the estate's tenants, Jean-Paul leaves France forever, and upon his return to the Guatemalan highlands, is welcomed to "New Scotsland" by the beaming Clara and MacDougal.