Kings of the Sun shows that in 1963, they were still making ‘em like they used to, to the consternation of some and the indifference of others. With novelty, this historical epic takes place in Central America before anyone called it that, and before Columbus and other johnny-come-latelies. Long before Europeans showed up, as the script by novelist Elliott Arnold and James R. Webb (How the West Was Won ) points out, the land was a hotbed of colonial conquest and resistance, immigration, and diplomacy.
George Chakiris plays Balam, the young leader of the Mayans. They’re attacked by invaders equally bird-hatted, but with metal swords more effective than the Mayans’ wooden ones. Are these Toltecs? Aztecs? Wikipedia kindly informs us of tribal conflict led by Hunac Ceel against Chichen Itza around the 13th Century, but it’s still confusing. In short: Balam calls it a day and leads his people over the waters of the Gulf of Mexico to what might be Louisiana. Again, they didn’t know what to call it yet, but the place has swamps and a tribe led by Black Eagle (Yul Brynner).