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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2010
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Having reviewed the 1965 Hammer version with Ursula Andress, it's only fair to weigh in on the 1935 RKO version. Both films have their strengths and weaknesses but both are worthy in their own way (see my other review). There is much of KING KONG in this production from the use of redecorated sets (the giant doors that Kong breaks), a screenplay by Ruth Rose complete with choice dialogue, and a throbbing Max Steiner score (some of it recycled). This movie also marks the culmination of producer Merian C. Cooper's forays into the exotic that he began with his silent documentaries GRASS and CHANG (though without his creative partner director Ernest B. Schoedsack). It was also his most expensive production to date and was a box office failure which seems strange today. Though out of circulation for many years thanks to Raymond Rohauer (a film collector and preservationist), it can now be seen here restored (as much as possible) by Ray Harryhausen including a colorized version.

The title role was enacted by Helen Gahagen, a stage actress married to Melvyn Douglas, who brings a regal bearing to "She Who Must Be Obeyed". She has a marvelous voice and with her hair down, was quite lovely to see but the failure of the film ended her Hollywwood career. Years later she would oppose Richard Nixon in California but that's another story. Nigel Bruce is at his best as Holly, far removed from his later Doctor Watson. This was also RKO contract player Helen Mack's finest hour. Topping it off is legendary silent actor Gustav von Seyfertitz in a rare speaking role as the High Priest. Randolph Scott is Randolph Scott. Though slow in places, it has some extraordinary set pieces such as the avalanche and the temple ceremony which show 1930s special effects at their height. The story strays more from Haggard than the 1965 version but for fans of old Hollywood style exotic adventure, it's hard to beat. Also available in a less expensive version from Legend Films.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 12, 2009
Format: VHS Tape
Leo Vincey (Randolph Scott) is summoned to the home of his dying uncle John (Samuel S. Hinds) to be told the story of the elder Vincey's lifelong and unsuccessful pursuit of the secret of eternal life, which he believes is hidden somewhere in the arctic, never found by him but once apparently discovered by Leo's direct ancestor (and physical duplicate). He charges Leo to start a new search, to be accompanied by John's colleague Horace Holly (Nigel Bruce) - and then dies. Soon Leo and Horace are fighting their way through the far north, eventually hooking up with Dugmore (Lumsden Hare) and his daughter Tanya (Helen Mack) and, with the help of several native guides and two dog teams trying to penetrate an impassible Arctic wall. An avalanche wipes out most of the party, but opens up a cave, through which the now small group emerges into the secret kingdom of Kor, ruled over by Queen Hash-A-Mo-Tep (Helen Gahagan), the ageless She, who has been waiting for centuries for the return of her beloved - Leo's ancestor, of course. Will Leo stay with She? Will he bathe in the eternal fire and stay young forever? What will happen to Holly and Tanya, of no use to the imperious She?

Today this 1935 film, the second full-length feature adaptation (a very loose one, apparently) of H. Rider Haggard's 1886 novel, is best known for two elements: it's spectacular production, with some of the largest and best sets in any film of this type from the era and terrific special effects, and Helen Gahagan's mysterious and fascinating performance - her only film role. The film was designed to captitalize on the success of KING KONG, but failed to do so though it is a thrilling spectacle, ably directed by Lansing C. Holden and Irving Pichel, with one of Max Steiner's best scores and wonderful Deco/expressionist art direction by Van Nest Polglase. I kept thinking DR. CALIGARI meets FLASH GORDON during the scenes set in the palace in Kor, but there are echoes of KONG as well, and also hints of films to come - take a look at the sacrifice scene in INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM and compare it to the one here, for example.

As I said, Gahagan has a certain magnetic quality - which no doubt helped her win a few terms as a Democratic congresswoman in California right after World War II, though it was no match for Tricky Dick Nixon when she ran against him for the Senate in 1950; she lost but the nickname she coined for the future president stuck. I'm not sure why she gave up acting so quickly; she had a commanding presence and voice and is as believable as can be expected as an ageless evil queen ruling a lost city; there's something almost Garboesque about her I think. Alas the rest of the cast doesn't fare so well; Scott is terribly stiff and uneasy and seems at times to be trying to hide his Virginia accent, Mack is pretty terrible (except for one fairly crucial scene where she tries to convince Leo to leave with her in which she seems genuinely emotional), and Bruce doesn't have anything interesting to do after the first third of the film. Also, there are some fairly noticeable continuity issues near the end of the film, perhaps due to the cutting of several minutes from the original release - the film only exists today courtesy of one surviving print saved by Buster Keaton!

All in all, despite some wooden acting and a few story issues, this is a terrific spectacle, exciting and generally well-paced but with Gahagan really giving the title role a melancholy power that lifts it a bit beyond it's pulp roots, and sets and FX that put it near the top of the heap of studio adventure films from this period. I have the Kino VHS; I think the DVD is taken from the same source print and though I'm sure it looks a little better, the VHS is eminently watchable still.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
Perhaps, the movie history would tell you that after the successful version of King Kong (1933), its director Merian Cooper produced this filmed verision of Rider Haggard novel. The music score is the same prolific Max Steiner. Certainly, 'She' makes an interesting comparison with that classi ape film, but that should not lead you think that this 'She' is just another attempt to cash in on the success of the Kong. This 1935 'She' has its own merits such as fantastic special effects and designs, which must have inspired the directors like Spielberg.

The Rider Haggard story is changed. Yes, you got Randolphe Scott's Leo Vincy and his sidekick Holly (Nigel Bruce, who later gets more famous as Dr. Watson alongside with Basil Rathbone). But here, these seachers of the 'Flame of Eternal Life' includes a woman named Tanya (Helen Mack), and moreover, they head for the north, not south, giving us some terrific effects of avalanches.

Still, the basic point remains the same. In the city of Kor, as the original story tells, the stern, cold-hearted queen She reigns, and she believes, perhaps tightly, that Leo is meant for her. She uses any ruthless methods to gain her purpose, and after we are shown some of her icy behaviors, we see the climax scenes, which are still full of impacts.

The film starts conventionally, and the adventures on the ice field may not look exciting to us. Many 'scenries' are obviously the painted backdrops in soundstages, and the acting from Scott and Helen Gahagan (Broadway singer who later entered politics) are too theatrical for us.

But the final sequences are simply majestic. The big-scale effects and the production designs of the city are more than impressive even by today's standard, and the ritual dance scenes are curiously arresting, with exotic costumes and very bizarre movements of dancers. It's very surreal.

Though some parts of the film are dated, the film, probably inspiration for films featuring Indiana Jones and his genre, is still interesting, showing that in 1930s they could show these visual tricks.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2009
Format: DVD
What a wonderful adventure......who needs all the computer generated special effects
when you can watch an old wonderful film like the original film "SHE". Films like this
established the themes for contemporary films like the Indiana Jones series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
A goofy old-fashioned action film produced by Meriam C. Cooper, the brains behind the1931 smash "King Kong." Randolph Scott stars in this slightly tweaked adaptation of H. Rider Haggard's novel (in the book, the action is set in Africa; here it's in the Antarctic). Anyway, the basic plot is that a dashing young Anglo-American adventurer heads off in search of a magical fountain of life, but when he arrives at its hidden temple, it turns out the guardian is an immortal hottie (played by Helen Gahagan), who believes that our hero is a reincarnation of her long-lost lover. The first half of the film is kind of rickety and slow-moving, but once the films starts zipping to its crescendo, things get pretty fun. There's a big, silly dance number (half modern dance, half Busby Berkeley revue, with kooky ethnic elements), and some really cool special effects -- including a jumping-over-the-chasm scene that may seem familiar to fans of the first "Lord Of The Rings" film. Acting wise, this flick is campy at best -- it's not Scott's best effort (and I *like* Randolph Scott!), and Gahagan is kind of a dud; she's just not very convincing as an irresistible(...)-- couldn't they have gotten Bette Davis or Marlene Dietrich instead? Still, it's a fun film... definitely worth checking out!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 1, 2002
Format: DVD
Ancient papers lead a Cambridge professor and his friends to the lost city where dwells a queen who cannot die - until she falls in love... SHE is alternately hilarious, terrible - and essential viewing for lovers of vintage Sci-Fi flicks! H. Rider Haggard was a British civil servant who began writing to win a bet with his brother after they'd argued about what made good literature. Haggard's works included a prolific 58 works of fiction and 7 works of non-fiction. KING SOLOMON'S MINES was his first novel: his second was SHE which was written in 1887. When adapted for this 1935 flick, the locale was - perhaps mistakenly - altered from the humid wastes of Africa to the frozen wastes of the near-Arctic. The two romantic leads were originally to be played by Joel McCrea and his wife, Frances Dee. Since they proved to be unavailable, the wooden Randolph Scott and the adequate Helen Mack were cast instead. The sometimes hokey script and colourless performances from both Scott and Gahagan tend to mar the film, but not completely: they give the film an unintended campy/eclectic feeling which somehow lingers in the memory rather than offends. The stagey decor of Kor is very Art Deco and reminds one of the Radio City Music Hall & you expect the Rockettes to appear out of nowhere! It is a great relief to film connoisseurs that a print of this movie - which was actually considered lost for years - was found!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2000
Format: DVD
An old used-book store I travel listed several exotic silent and early film classics now thought to be "Lost". This one author went on and on about a weird, halcyon film he'd seen in his childhood called "She", with Randolph Scott. Imagine my pleasure to find that Kino International has just released the DVD of this 1935 fantasy. Sir H. Rider Haggard's adventure about Ayesha, an ageless queen of a 2000 year-old lost tribe, has been filmed at least 7 times. There were 5 silent versions(popular,eh?), plus this one, a 1965 MGM re-make with Ursula Andress, and one more sequel by Hammer called "Vengeance of She". Archivists tell us the best sound version was in 1935. This re-telling of the story of "She-who-must-be-obeyed" starred Scott, Broadway's lovely Helen Gahagan, Nigel Bruce(remember Dr. Watson?), and pretty Helen Mack(star of Son of Kong). The director was Irving Pichel(an actor in Dracula's Daughter). it was produced by Merian C. Cooper(from Kong). A haunting score is provided by Max Steiner. The film starts slow but builds to a thrilling finish. Kino uncovered an excellent old 35 mm print, and the sound is excellent. No pops. Pick up this long lost gem, and days later you'll still remember these words..."Young and Beautiful for 500 years. And Wicked every one of them..."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on August 3, 2009
Format: DVD
I dont know why this film made such a impact when i was a young lad, that after
30 years, ive finally found the film.
I really did'nt know what to look for as i must have been pretty young, and the
words 'SHE' was the clue. So as the years passed by, movies like 'CHE' and others
titles with the word 'SHE' in it would light me up, but never did find what i was
looking for...till this version came out...in color also.
So, yes this is the film. Now, trying to figure out why the big impact, im
finding out more about this movie....Giant sets...Great music...strange dancing
acts...mountains...caves...magic flames.....
You dont find too many of these films around, so if you like the genre it
will be quite a experience.
Love it in Black and White....Love it more in Color.
A keeper,,,enjoy
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
"She" is a remarkable artifact of the early twentieth century. It's a lot like "Lost Horizon" from the same era, only more so.

English explorers head off in search of the fabled fountain of youth. (Not really a fountain this time, but close enough.) They pick up native guides along the way, and find their way into the secret caverns near the North Pole. There, they find the lost tribes of savages rules by She: She Who Must Be Obeyed (long before Rumpole made the phrase his own). Somehow, this turns into a catfight between the immortal She and the humble but plucky daughter of the northern guides, and I'll leave the ending for you to see for yourself.

"She" wasn't made so long after the late 19th century, when the White Man's Burden may have been set down, but was still fresh in the cultural memory. As a result, it's no surprise that the native guides have to be led by the European who had lived among them for years. It's also no surprise that, the natives of that secret cavern are hunched, primitive cut-throats. She, with Her anglo features, is the civilizing influence in their world and their natural leader. If you're easily offended by the racial stereotypes of 70 years back, just give this one a miss.

It's also small surprise that the hero's lady is a petulant, ineffectual, and physically small woman, easily carried when she needs to be saved. Which, of course, is what she's there for. He sweeps her away from her guest-of-honor role at a human sacrifice, just before the knife plunges into her back. The sacrifice, by the way, turns into a mass choreography scene worthy of Busby Berkeley. Well, how were people supposed to know the movie was any good if it didn't have a big dance number?

Although it may have been a dramatic hit back then, it's a nice, safe popcorn movie for today's audiences. Well, fine. Wait for a rainy Saturday, pop the popcorn, and enjoy it. And, if you have kids, you'll appreciate the fact that 1930s movies didn't have to put people in bed with each other to show a romantic interest.

//wiredweird
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2012
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This 77-year old film looks beautiful after the pain-staking restoration and beautiful colorization. The film has aspects of King Kong, Son of Kong Lost Horizon. It is a wonderful film that speaks of 1930s Hollywood, replete with elaborate sets, paintings, dance sequences and a good plot. Randolph Scott and Helen Gahagam play the odd pairing of a modern man sought by an ancient and ageless evil queen. Helen Makc (Son of Kong) is good as the modern woman who stands in the way. Nigel Bruce is a decent sidekick. I only have a few criticisms: I wish we could have seen an animated sabretoothed tiger; the stone sculpture of the queen has blonde hair while Gahagan is a beautiful brunette; and the movie could have had at least one fight scene. Overall, the film has a good feel to it. Lovers of classic films will love this classic.
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