Secret of the Incas

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Secret of the Incas
Directed by Jerry Hopper
Produced by Mel Epstein (associate)
Hal B. Wallis (executive)
Written by Sydney Boehm
Ranald MacDougall
Boehm Maximum[citation needed]
Starring Charlton Heston
Robert Young
Nicole Maurey
Thomas Mitchell
Glenda Farrell
Yma Sumac
Music by David Buttolph
Cinematography Lionel Lindon
Irma Roberts
Edited by Eda Warren
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release dates
  • June 6, 1954 (1954-06-06)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United States
Language English, some Quechua, Romanian, and Spanish

Secret of the Incas is a 1954 adventure film starring Charlton Heston as adventurer Harry Steele, on the trail of an ancient Incan artifact. Shot on location at Machu Picchu in Peru, the film is often credited as the inspiration for Raiders of the Lost Ark. The supporting cast features Robert Young and Thomas Mitchell.



An Incan legend states that the Inca Empire was destroyed by the gods when a gold and jeweled starburst was stolen from the Temple of the Sun centuries ago, and that the ancient civilization will be reborn once the treasure is returned. Harry Steele (Charlton Heston), an adventurer, is seeking the artifact, as is his nemesis Edward 'Ed' Morgan (Thomas Mitchell), along with Elena Antonescu (Nicole Maurey), an Iron Curtain refugee.


Secret of the Incas was filmed by Paramount Pictures on location in Peru at Cuzco and Machu Picchu, the first time that a major Hollywood studio filmed at this archeological site. Five hundred native Indians were used as extras in the film.[1] The film also featured the Peruvian singer Yma Sumac as Kori-Tica. The film caused a surge in tourism to Peru in 1954.

Influence on Raiders of the Lost Ark[edit]

Charlton Heston and Nicole Maurey

The film is often cited by film buffs as a direct inspiration for the Indiana Jones franchise of films, with many of the scenes in Secret of the Incas bearing a striking resemblance in tone and structure to scenes in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Throughout Secret of the Incas, the main character, Harry Steele, can be seen wearing the "Indiana Jones" outfit: brown leather jacket, fedora, tan pants, an over-the-shoulder bag, and revolver.[2] The character also sometimes wears a light beard, unusual for films of its time, and there is a tomb scene involving a revelatory shaft of light similar to the "Map Room" sequence in Raiders.

Raiders' costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis noted that the inspiration for Indiana's costume was Charlton Heston's Harry Steele in Secret of the Incas: "We did watch this film together as a crew several times, and I always thought it strange that the filmmakers did not credit it later as the inspiration for the series" and quipped that the film is "almost a shot for shot Raiders of the Lost Ark."[3]

Other media[edit]

On December 14, 1954, Charlton Heston and Nicole Maurey reprised their roles in a Lux Radio Theater version of Secret of the Incas.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Production Notes - Secret Of The Incas @ TCM Database Archived June 6, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Review @ TheRaider.Net Archived August 24, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ Mike French & Gilles Verschuere (September 14, 2005). "Debora Nadoolman interview". Archived from the original on March 27, 2014. Retrieved April 7, 2008. 

External links[edit]