The Pearl (film)

La perla

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Emilio Fernández
Produced by Óscar Dancigers
Screenplay by John Steinbeck
Emilio Fernández
Jack Wagner
Based on The Pearl
by John Steinbeck
Starring Pedro Armendáriz
María Elena Marqués
Fernando Wagner
Charles Rooner
Music by Antonio Díaz Conde
Cinematography Gabriel Figueroa
Edited by Gloria Schoemann
Águila Films
RKO Radio Pictures
Film Asociados Mexico-Americanos
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Películas Mexicanas (Peli-Mex)
Release dates
  • September 12, 1947 (1947-09-12) (Mexico)
  • February 17, 1948 (1948-02-17) (United States)
Running time
85 minutes
Country Mexico
United States
Language 2 versions:

La perla (The Pearl) is a 1947 Mexican/American film by the acclaimed director Emilio Fernández. The story is based on the novella The Pearl by John Steinbeck, who also co-wrote the screenplay for the movie.

In 2002, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Plot summary

In a fishing village, Kino (Armendáriz) and his wife Juana (Marqués) are in anguish because their little son Coyotito was stung by a scorpion, the local doctor (a foreigner) refuses to treat the child and the boy is taken to a curandera. Later the doctor and his brother (Wagner), a loan shark meet Kino again, after he finds an expensive pearl and decide to steal it from him.



Promotional image

Critical response

When the film was originally released, Bosley Crowther, film critic for The New York Times, liked the film, writing, "An exceptional motion picture, both in content and genesis, is the beautiful and disturbing filmization of John Steinbeck's novelette, The Pearl, which reached an appropriate showcase at the Sutton Theatre yesterday. Exceptional it is in genesis by virtue of the fact that it was made in Mexico by a Mexican company with Mexican actors who speak English throughout. And extraordinary it is in content through the benefit of a story of primitive power, told with immaculate integrity through an eloquent camera."[1]

More recently, film critic Dennis Schwartz gave the film a mixed review and wrote, "Though the film is clumsy in its characterizations, the shimmering gorgeous black-and-white photography by cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa makes the film seem potent."[2]


Venice Film Festival - 1947

  • Emilio Fernández "Golden Lion"

Premio Ariel - 1948

  • Gilberto Diego González (supporting actor)
  • María Elena Marqués (actress)
  • Gloria Schoemann (editing)
  • Antonio Díaz Conde (score)
  • Emilio Fernández (screenplay)
  • Emilio Fernández (director)

Golden Globe - 1949

  • Gabriel Figueroa (photography)

Madrid Film Festival - 1949

  • Gabriel Figueroa (photography)


  1. Crother, Bosley. The New York Times, film review, February 18, 1948. Accessed: June 29, 2013.
  2. Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, May 18, 2005. Accessed: June 29, 2013.
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