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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lost Horizon (1973)

A plane escaping from a war torn Asian country carries 5 disparate passengers but the plane is hijacked and crashes in the Himalayas. They are rescued and taken to a hidden valley called Shangri La where no one seems to age and peace and contentment reigns. Vilified upon its initial 1973 release, LOST HORIZON has the last laugh as it plays very well today. The 1937 Frank Capra version was a pretty silly but ponderous piece that took itself so seriously as if it actually had something profound to say. The addition of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David songs and dances by Hermes Pan diffuses the nonsense and heightens the fantasy aspect of it all. Some of the casting is problematic. Olivia Hussey (in the full flush of pregnancy) is cast as a dancer but she can't dance and the neurotic journalist played by Sally Kellerman is ill conceived. Ironically, they have the movie's best song, The Things I Will Not Miss. Then there's the infamous fertility dance sequence with male dancers in orange diapers which seems fresh out of a gay disco. The lush wide screen Panavision cinematography is by Robert Surtees (LAST PICTURE SHOW), costumes by Jean Louis and production design by Preston Ames (AN AMERICAN IN PARIS). Directed by Charles Jarrott from a screenplay by Larry Kramer (WOMEN IN LOVE). With Peter Finch, Liv Ullmann, Charles Boyer, Michael York, George Kennedy, John Gielgud, Bobby Van, James Shigeta, Kent Smith, John Van Dreelen and Miiko Taka.

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