Category Archives: h. rider haggard
This 1935 film means a lot to me and I’m really happy I finally got to see it. One of the few times my father took an interest in my writing was when he suggested I see this flick. It must have been at some point when I was watching Raiders of the Lost Ark or Star Wars, and he said, “If you really want to see a good adventure story, you should see She, the original, from when I was a kid.” At some point when I was older I picked up a collection of H. Rider Haggard novels, and I immediately devoured it. Asking my father about it however, I learned he’d never read the books, and had only seen the original film version of She.
Finding that version has been a long road. Even when I worked in video retail, it was considered a ‘lost’ film, with only sparse footage remaining. It was made in 1935 but was seen by a whole new generation in re-release, double-billed with The Last Days of Pompeii (also from ’35) in 1948. Recently restored by Ray Harryhausen, believe it or not, from a print that Buster Keaton had in his garage – it is now available on DVD. Oddly it was originally meant to be a color film but because of budget restraints done in black and white. The restored cut includes a colorized version that uses actual scenery and wardrobe orders to make the colors match the originals.
Now that I’ve seen it I know what my father was talking about. If he had ever seen Raiders of the Lost Ark he might have marveled at the special effects, but the rest of it would be old hat to him because of She. The sets are amazing, especially the hall of the kings, and the dance number/ceremony that takes place there is breathtaking if dated. Max Steiner, composer for 1933’s King Kong, scored the terrific soundtrack, one of his best. Randolph Scott, mostly known for his cowboy flicks, is our hero in the mode that would later spawn Indiana Jones among others, and the startling beauty Helen Gahagan Douglass plays the title role. It was the only film appearance for the Broadway singer who later became a Congresswoman.
She was adapted by Ruth Rose (the writer of King Kong) from the Haggard novel, and produced by the legendary Merion C. Cooper, father of Kong. The action is a step above that of the time, no simple movie serial with a budget is this. The saber tooth tiger and avalanche scenes are great. This is one of the great adventure flicks of not only its time, but, dare I say it, all time. Highly recommended.