The Pearl

  • 1948
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

John Steinbeck, whose stories of the downtrodden, especially The Grapes of Wrath, have tugged the heart-strings of generations of readers and moviegoers, turns his attention in THE PEARL to the west coast of Mexico and the fishermen who earn their livelihood by the grace of the sea. THE PEARL was not a hit at the box office but it remains one of the best...read more

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John Steinbeck, whose stories of the downtrodden, especially The Grapes of Wrath, have tugged the heart-strings of generations of readers and moviegoers, turns his attention in THE PEARL to the west coast of Mexico and the fishermen who earn their livelihood by the grace of the sea. THE

PEARL was not a hit at the box office but it remains one of the best pictures ever to come out of RKO. Its allegorical and didactic content may have been what turned off audiences more accustomed to a straightforward story and movies that sought only to entertain. Armendariz, a fisherman, finds a

huge, perfect pearl, a treasure that he believes will change his life, bring him money and respect, and allow him to provide for his wife, Marques, and their son. His life does indeed change, but for the worse. He is beset by avaricious hyenas who bilk him, physically hurt him, murder his child,

and eventually turn him into a killer. Notwithstanding the hardships of poverty, Armendariz was far happier scuffling for his living and barely managing to scrape by. At the end of the brief, beautifully photographed story, Armendariz realizes that this pearl has brought him nothing but pain and

heartbreak and tosses it back into the Pacific Ocean, whence it came, hoping that the gesture will restore his former life to him. THE PEARL IS about the big things in people's lives, wealth, power, joy, and sorrow, and it brings its lesson in values home in memorable fashion. Director Fernandez,

a man single-handedly responsible for the development of the Mexican cinema, was the first filmmaker in his country to garner international awards for his movies. His 1943 film MARIA CANDELARIA won the Grand Prize at Cannes, and THE PEARL won the International Prize at San Sebastian. American

audiences, however, are more likely to recognize the Mexican filmmaker not for the films he has directed but for the acting he's done in American movies, especially Sam Peckinpah's THE WILD BUNCH (1969), in which Fernandez played the unforgettable General Mapache, PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID

(1973)--though the studio savaged the film in the editing and most of the Fernandez footage wound up on the floor--and BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (1974). Distinguished as Fernandez's acting is, his artistic strength is more completely expressed in his work as a director, and his films are

resonant with simple truths of the human condition.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: John Steinbeck, whose stories of the downtrodden, especially The Grapes of Wrath, have tugged the heart-strings of generations of readers and moviegoers, turns his attention in THE PEARL to the west coast of Mexico and the fishermen who earn their liveliho… (more)

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