Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Pearl (1947)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Pearl (1947, Mexico/US) (aka La Perla)

In writer/director Emilio Fernández' drama with beautiful black and white cinematography (by Gabriel Figueroa), based upon John Steinbeck's original novella - and one of the first Mexican films to receive widespread distribution in the domestic US film market:

  • the poverty-striken life of diver Quino (Pedro Armendáriz), living in a one-room shack with his supportive wife Juana (María Elena Marqués) and infant Juanito; in the opening sequence, the baby was stung by a scorpion, but when they rushed to town to summon a Doctor (Charles Rooner), they were refused service because they couldn't afford it
  • the underwater sequence of simple, impoverished Mexican fisherman-shell diver Quino discovering a bed of giant, untouched oyster shells after dropping his knife; when he risked his life to deep-dive for one very large one, he found the giant oyster with a beckoning valuable pearl inside - and barely made it back to the surface with his prized find
  • as he broke out into an hysterical laughter while holding out the gigantic pearl and looking up to the heavens, his wife Juana collapsed next to him
  • the film's parable - as he showed off the great pearl to the townspeople who held a celebration in his honor, he told them what he could now buy - a rifle, clothes and shoes for his wife, and money for his son's education; he added "These things will make us free...This is what the pearl will do. The pearl will make us free!" - although the valuable pearl would soon bring his family ruin, death, and despair
  • in various scenes, the pearl brought great disaster - there was danger of theft from greedy individuals - a Godfather (Alfonso Bedoya) and two other covetous pearl dealers (Fernando Wagner and Raúl Lechuga) who wanted to steal the pearl; and Quino struck down Juana for wanting to throw the unlucky pearl back
  • Quino was forced to take human life in self-defense when the dealers threatened him with a knife (he killed one of them); also, the couple's baby son Juanito was tragically shot by the Godfather, leading to another death when Kino vengefully killed him
  • in the final sequence, Quino stood next to his wife Juana on a high cliffside ocean bluff as they decided which of them would toss the cursed pearl into the ocean waves; after Quino chose to throw the pearl where it had come from, he tightly grasped her wrist as she clenched her fist - and the film faded to black
Returning the Cursed Pearl Back to the Ocean

Quino with Juana in Shack

Scorpion Descending on Rope Above Baby Before Biting Him

Quino's Discovery of Giant Oyster Underwater

Quino Holding Out the Pearl Toward the Heavens with Wife Juana


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