Kings of the Sun
|Kings of the Sun|
Theatrical release poster by Irv Doctor
|Directed by||J. Lee Thompson|
|Produced by||Lewis J. Rachmil|
|Screenplay by||James R. Webb|
|Story by||Elliott Arnold|
|Narrated by||James Coburn|
|Music by||Elmer Bernstein|
|Edited by||William Reynolds|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Running time||108 minutes|
|Box office||$1,600,000 (US/ Canada)|
- This article is about the film. For the band of the same name, see Kings of the Sun (band).
Kings of the Sun is a 1963 DeLuxe Color film directed by J. Lee Thompson for Mirisch Productions set in Mesoamerica at the time of the conquest of Chichen Itza by Hunac Ceel. Location scenes filmed in Mazatlán and Chichen Itza. The film marks the second project Thompson completed with Yul Brynner within a year — the other being Taras Bulba.
Balam (George Chakiris) is the son of the ruler of a Mayan tribe who use wooden swords (with obsidian edges). His father is killed in battle against metal-blade armed rivals led by Hunac Ceel (Leo Gordon). Balam succeeds to the throne, but is convinced by his advisers, including the head priest, to lead his followers away from the Yucatán, sail to the American Gulf Coast region, so they might regain their strength and fight again another day.
Balam's party comes to a coastal settlement with many boats. Balam wants the population of the settlement to join him with their boats. The settlement's chief agrees if Balam agrees to marry his daughter, Ixchel (Shirley Anne Field), and make her Queen. Balam agrees.
The new land they arrive in is a province occupied by a Native American tribe led by Black Eagle (Yul Brynner). They are none too pleased about these strange, uninvited immigrants. In a small raid to capture one of the Mayans, Black Eagle is wounded and taken captive to the Mayans' fortified settlement. Balam's love interest Ixchel tends to the Indian's wounds and gains an interested suitor, one who is more forthcoming with his love for her.
Balam is under pressure to resume their custom of human sacrifice by sacrificing Black Eagle. Balam has always been against the policy of human sacrifice and sets Black Eagle free.
Eventually, the two leaders agree to coexist in peace. However, they quarrel, and the Native Americans depart, just as Hunac Ceel finds Balam and his people. Hunac Ceel's army mounts a furious attack, but is eventually defeated by the united front of Indians and the transplanted Mayans. Black Eagle is killed in the fighting, resolving the love triangle.
- Yul Brynner as Chief Black Eagle
- George Chakiris as Balam
- Shirley Anne Field as Ixchel
- Richard Basehart as Ah Min
- Brad Dexter as Ah Haleb
- Barry Morse as Ah Zok
- Armando Silvestre as Isatai
- Leo Gordon as Hunac Ceel
- Victoria Vetri as Ixzubin
- Rudy Solari as Pitz
- Ford Rainey as The chief
Critics tended to receive the film negatively because of its overly ponderous and melodramatic presentation. The New York Times film critic, Bosley Crowther, gave the film a mixed review, writing, "Miss Field seems a pallid specimen among the redskins, but she fares better than poor Richard Basehart. As the high priest of the Mayans, swathed in dirty dresses and adorned with a mountainous gray wig, he looks exactly like the late Maria Ouspenskaya. J. Lee Thompson, the director who foisted last year's Taras Bulba on unsuspecting Christmas audiences, has done it again."
- Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p 174.
- "Big Rental Pictures of 1964", Variety, 6 January 1965 p 39. Please note this figure is rentals accruing to distributors not total gross.
- Kings of the Sun at the American Film Institute Catalog.
- Crowther, Bosley, The New York Times, film review, December 26, 1963. Accessed: June 30, 2013.
- Kings of the Sun at the American Film Institute Catalog
- Kings of the Sun at the Internet Movie Database
- Kings of the Sun at AllMovie
- Kings of the Sun at the TCM Movie Database
- Kings of the Sun film trailer on YouTube