The Secret of Monte Cristo (1961)

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The Secret of Monte Cristo (1961) Poster

In 1815 England, Col. Jackson hires Adam Corbett to serve as armed escort for himself and his daughter as they travel to the isle of Monte Cristo. It seems the Colonel has part of a map showing the site of the fabled Monte Cristo treasure.


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28 March 2014 | Bunuel1976
| THE TREASURE OF MONTE CRISTO (Robert S. Baker & Monty Berman, 1961) **1/2
This was another film I was introduced to via its vintage poster in my father's scrapbook of titles he watched during his childhood; however, it took me this long to get the opportunity to check it out for myself – thankfully, it was via Warner's "Archive Collection" transfer, where the movie sported the U.S. moniker THE SECRET OF MONTE CRISTO, so as not to be confused with the 1949 noir of the same name! Incidentally, this was one of four higher profile efforts by the writer/producer/director/cinematographer team (who, when they died, had a combined age of 193!) that I own and also their last outing for the big screen and, as it coincidentally turned out, I watched this on a day that would have been Berman's birthday!

Given the title, there are some obvious ties to the fictional fortune made famous by Alexandre Dumas; however, rather than a relative of Edmond Dantes (who discovered the treasure), here we have the descendant (played by Peter Arne) of the friar who actually stashed it on the island. Even so, he has only one-fourth of the map indicating its location: the other parts are owned by French playboy Francis Matthews, German seaman David Davies and English military officer Ian Hunter (accompanied on the venture by daughter Patricia Bredin, valet Sam Kydd and 'bodyguard' Rory Calhoun{!} just as Arne himself has Italian Gianna Maria Canale tagging along). Characters are very clearly defined from the outset: Bredin and Calhoun begin by disliking each other but eventually fall in love; Hunter expires early on; Kydd supplies incessant yet scant comedy relief; Matthews is gallant with women but ruthless when it comes to the gold; Arne, inevitably, emerges the true villain; Canale is ambitious and has no qualms about using her femininity to get a bigger stake of the riches.

The journey to the island is only half the narrative, however, for they run into Sicilian bandits – led by a hammy John Gregson (who shows his chops by eating a raw onion!) – soon after landing there. Needless to say, with so many fingers clamouring for a piece of the pie, double-cross and murder soon become the order of the day...but Gregson proves he is not as rough as he makes out to be (after Davies dies to save his life), taking sides with Bredin, Calhoun (even after having engaged in a knife-fight with him) and Kydd against Arne, Canale and Matthews. Though hardly a classic, the movie makes for a pleasant diversion (with an ironic fate for the much sought-after loot): if anything, the appealing locations – colourfully shot in the Dyaliscope ratio – generally manage to take one's mind off the flaws...most irritating, perhaps, being Calhoun's constantly cheerful countenance (which had likewise marred the Sergio Leone peplum THE COLOSSUS OF RHODES, actually the preceding title in his filmography released the same year)!

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Release Date:

22 June 1961



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