Cast & Crew
Pursued by a posse for damage he caused during a minor saloon brawl, adventurer Robert Kendall accidentally comes across the hideout of bank robbers Cash Larsen, Francisco Martinez and Stub McCurdy, who are also on the run from the law. To avoid the posse, the four fugitives flee into the mountains. When McCurdy's horse falls off a ledge, taking the cash from the robbery with him and making it impossible for McCurdy, who was wounded during the crime, to keep up with the others, Larsen kills McCurdy to prevent him from revealing their identities to the sheriff. That night, after Vahoe, an Apache Indian, runs off their horses, the fugitives capture him and force him to take them to the nearest shelter. Vahoe leads them into the forbidding mountain range where they find two cabins set in a clearing on a rocky plateau. One is inhabited by Edward Lancaster, a British gold prospector, and his daughter Audrey, who welcome the strangers. The owner of the other cabin is Juan Alvarado, a half-breed student of Indian lore, who shuns the newcomers. Other members of Juan's household are Tawana, his Apache housekeeper, and his aide, Vahoe, who secretly envies Juan because Tawana harbors an unrequited love for him. Although Robert tells Edward that they are cattlemen, Juan, after removing the bullet from Martinez' arm, warns Audrey that the men are probably not what they appear to be. When Larsen notices a unique gold cross hidden in a drawer in Juan's house, Edward tells him that, according to Indian legend, the Spaniards discovered a fortune in gold in the hills 200 years earlier. The Apache, who considered the mountain a holy place, vowed to exterminate the foreign intruders. Before the Spaniards were killed, however, they concealed the gold in a cave, which was then sealed by a landslide. Edward explains that the Apache made three crosses of gold, which, when combined, will reveal the gold's hiding place. Juan's cross is believed to be one of the crosses. Later, when Larsen makes improper advances to Tawana, Vahoe confronts him outside the cabin. As Larsen is about to draw his gun, Robert jumps him, sending the two men tumbling down the embankment. Their fall loosens some rocks, thus allowing Robert to uncover another cross, which he hides in his shirt. Thrown out because of Larsen's crude behavior, Larsen and Martinez leave at daybreak. Later, while exploring the countryside, Audrey and Robert find some unusual rock formations, and in a rock archway, Robert notices that his body casts a shadow across the area of Juan's cabin. Vahoe, who secretly has been following the pair, informs Juan that they have discovered the key to the secret mountain and insists that Audrey and Robert be eliminated. When Juan balks, Vahoe tells him that he has been sent by the Apache chiefs to insure that Juan keep his sacred oath to prevent white men from finding the hidden treasure. To stop Vahoe and Tawana from exposing his failure, Juan kills them both. Meanwhile, Robert and Edward are preparing to dynamite the mountain when Larsen returns and claims that Martinez died in a drowning accident. Having fallen in love with Audrey, Juan tells her of the treasure and offers to share it with her if she will marry him. Audrey, who is in love with Robert, hurries to inform him and her father of Juan's discovery. After Larsen suggests torturing Audrey to force Juan to reveal the location of the treasure, Robert attacks him, and in the ensuing struggle, Larsen falls to his death. When Robert promises Juan that he will no longer seek the gold, Juan, seemingly in gratitude, invites Robert, Edward and Audrey to his cabin and opens a secret panel that reveals the treasure vaults in a cave below. Once in the cave, Juan pulls out a gun and says that the secret of the gold must die with them. After Juan lights a dynamite fuse, Robert knocks him off balance and escapes with Audrey and her father. A series of dynamite blasts then seal Juan and the gold in the cave for eternity.
Although onscreen credits list Edwin Lawson as sound man, all others sources credit Edwin Levinson with sound. Secret of Treasure Mountain borrows certain plot elements and locations from the 1949 Columbia film Lust for Gold (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). In addition to utilizing a two and a half minute sequence from the earlier film to illustrate "Edward Lancaster's" account of the Spaniards' discovery of the gold and the sealing of the cave, Secret of Treasure Mountain also features William Prince, one of the principal actors from Lust for Gold, thus enabling the reuse of footage of Prince wandering through the mountains and long shots of a fight between him and Will Geer. In Secret of Treasure Mountain, the fight takes place between Prince and Raymond Burr, who is seen in close-up shots.