The Treasure Seekers (1979)
Rod Taylor starred in and wrote the screenplay for this adventure movie shot
In other productions, Rod has often tinkered with a script or suggested
changes to improve a scene or character, but this screenplay was the first one
he'd written "from scratch." (This time, however, someone tinkered with his
script. More on that later.)
While the film was in development, Rod described his inspiration
for the story he was writing:
I got the idea from a newspaper. I read about divers finding
a sunken city with $6 million worth of bullion. This is the story of their
efforts to get it up and their fights to keep it.
I do a lot of rewriting but this is the first one from
scratch. There are not enough good scripts around and God knows, I read
enough of them. I've gone through reams of junk.
-- TV Week (Australia), Nov. 1, 1975
The same 1975 article mentioned that the cast was to include Stuart
Whitman, James Mason and Ursula Andress. When filming started in May
1976, Whitman was there, but it looks like the other two parts were filled by Jeremy
Kemp and Elke Sommer. Also in the cast are veteran actor Keenan Wynn
and Robert (Bob) Phillips, who appeared with Rod in "Darker than
Amber." In his book, "A Jamaica, the Land of Film," author Peter
Polack praised the film for including local actors (Paul Methuen,
Dermot Hussey, and Bobby Ghisays, who in addition to being an actor,
directed plays and was head of the Jamaica Broadcasting
Phillips, Stuart Whitman and Rod,
about to dive for pirate treasure.
All the filming was done in locations in and around Montego Bay
and Kingston, including tourist locales such as Admiral's Inn, Colbeck Castle and Bowden Wharf.
The original working title of the movie was "Jamaican Pie," but
it went through several name and distributor changes before it was released
on video in 1979 as
"The Treasure Seekers." Other aliases include
"On a Dead Man's Chest," "Contraband," "Forty Million Bucks" and
"Jamaican Gold" (the title that's used for the movie's IMDb entry).
Rod was one of the driving forces behind the project and had
several friends among the crew. However, according to Stephen Vagg's
Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood," Rod seemed to get "squeezed
out" as the production progressed. The script was re-written by
Walter Brough, an experienced TV writer who disputed Rod's claim to
a writing credit. And as
filming wrapped up, Vagg notes that the movie essentially had no producer.
The movie never had a theatrical release and eventually came out
on video in 1979. This development surprised Rod, who was handed a
copy of it to autograph a few years later. "Those bastards changed
the title and released it on tape," Rod said, "and I still haven't
Here's "The Treasure Seekers" in its entirety, converted from a
commercial VHS release in which Rod's name has
been deleted from the writing credits.
The plot involves two old college buddies -- Marian Casey
(Rod) and Stack Baker
(Stuart Whitman) -- meeting by chance at the Montego Bay Marina many years after
their shared football glories. Baker sets out to show Casey around the island
and introduce him to friends. But they soon get
mixed up in a family feud that includes a quest for $40 million in pirate treasure.
On one side of the feud is Meat Cleaver Stewart (Keenan Wynn), a
gruff scavenger with a lovely daughter, a treasure map but no money
to fund a proper search. His adversary is the Right Honorable Reginald
Landers (Jeremy Kemp). He is a wealthy scoundrel with a lovely
mistress (Elke Sommer), the funds to carry out a search, and the
henchmen to kill Stewart in his pursuit of the map.
In the wake of this heinous crime, it's Casey and Baker who get their
hands on the map and decipher further clues to find the treasure. Once they
locate the gold, they are almost done in by
Landers, who traps them in an underwater cave. Some nifty swimming
and a surprise twist wrap up their adventures.
Throughout the film, Taylor and Whitman seem to be having a grand
time, but their (aging) he-man antics
and bravado can't overcome the movie's low production values and questionable wardrobe
In an interesting casting note, Patrice Wymore is credited with a
cameo in the film.
Wymore is the widow of Errol Flynn, making for a connection from the
first great Hollywood star from Down Under and the second -- Rod
At the time of the filming, Wymore ran the Jamaican estate the
couple owned together before Flynn's death in 1959. On the
2,000-acre property outside Port Antonio, Jamaica, she farmed
coconut trees and raised cattle. She also owned two dress boutiques
and a wicker furniture factory.