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D: Irving Pichel C: Helen Gahagan, Randolph Scott, Nigel Bruce

Only a handful of movies are able to elevate bad taste to art. SHE is such a movie. In some ways it even surpasses KING KONG (1931) from the same producer, not being hampered by stop-motion dinosaurs. This time around, the Busby Berkeley natives aren’t even remotely credible, nor are we treated to a soggy Shangri-La, or any other Capraesque Motherhood and Apple Pie utopia. SHE must be obeyed, at least until the arrival of her transcendent lover, unfortunately not up to the task of giving her a good spanking. This sort of thing takes courage on the scale of the monumental tackiness of the décor, in stark contrast to the sterility of THINGS TO COME (1936). These sets are haunted, all fire and swirling mists, by the ageless sorrow of the human goddess, Helen Gahagan, whose only movie it was, giving to the part a sense of otherworldliness. Relocating Haggard’s story from the Dark Continent of Allan Quatermain to Ultima Thule further adds the popular polar expedition with a touch of Hörbiger. Her long lost love is no longer Kallikrates, but an ancestor of the explorer, which seems a bit more probable (if such considerations enter into a story of a flame bestowing eternal life). There are a few Morlocks too, looked upon with disdain by the spear-carrying extras and the uncredited High Priest. Nigel Bruce, on a vacation from Baker Street, provides the comic relief, whereas Randolph Scott seems to go through the movie looking for his horse. In the end, he chooses a limited future with Helen Mack in Scarsdale. Now in its eighties, SHE is an unabashed not-to-be-missed masterpiece. But for God’s sake, stay away from the grisly colorized version!

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