La Perla

By Jen 

 Pictures taken at Salinas Steinbeck Center Jennifer Mott 2007

“It is a chance to do an honest picture and I am going to try it. I have complete control of the picture and very good people are involved in it” (Steinbeck 256).


     After the disappointment of watching his script Lifeboat distorted into a film he disapproves of, due to "slurs against organized labor… [and] stock comedy Negro[es]”(Steinbeck 249), the last thing you would expect is another film. However, Steinbeck embarks on this new journey of writing a novel for the purpose of a screenplay due to the fact that Hollywood will be left out of the picture (pardon the pun). This novella will be released simultaneously with the film made in Mexico comprised of Mexican acting, direction, and money (Steinbeck 256). Steinbeck is even on location during the filming to ensure he remains in control of his work. This is no ordinary task, in fact Steinbeck complains over how “tiresome” (Steinbeck 266) this type of writing is to him. Yet while reading The Pearl you can see how perfectly set up it is for a film. The descriptions of the scenes, the focus on emotions, foreshadowing through musical notes all contribute to a beautiful cinematic production. The 1947 film La Perla is in black and white and a few changes occur. For instance, Kino’s son Coyotito is not an infant but looks to be around five years old or so (Film clip at Salinas Steinbeck Center). Another deviation from the novella is that the film, as referenced by the name, is in Spanish, fittingly since it is filmed in Mexico by native actors, directors and crew. Nevertheless, this was Steinbeck’s project and he saw it through to the end.  

The Pearl   pbwiki