Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Overlooked Movies -- Lost Horizon

Okay, I know it's not overlooked, but I wanted to write a little about it since I'd read the novel recently and since TCM obliged by showing Frank Capra's 1937 version starring Ronald Colman.  The introduction says that Capra turned in a six-hour movie.  What was he thinking?  I have no idea.  He edited it down to three hours plus, but the previews weren't encouraging.  Harry Cohn took it away from him and edited it himself. It's complicated, and I'm not sure who created the final version, which comes in at a bit over two hours.  Even part of that version has been lost, but the restoration shown on TCM covers the missing few minutes with stills from the production.  The entire soundtrack was preserved, so we do have the words that cover the missing scenes.

The plot of the movie changes that of the book considerably, and the opening action scenes are truly impressive.  So is the B&W photography throughout.  So is the acting, for the most part.  I've seen a good bit of Ronald Colman lately, and he's never been better than here.  The only questionable player is Isabell Jewell, who seemed to be to overact egregiously in the first part of the film.

While the plot has been changed from the book, the theme is the same, and some of the ideas expressed in the book are quoted almost directly in the movie.  Some of the plot changes are for the better, as they clarify points or explain some things better than the novel itself.  As for the ending, well, I suppose some people will like the ending of the movie better than the one in the book, but I'm not sure it's an improvement.  Anyway, a great movie, highly recommended.


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

It's probably been 40+ years since I've seen this one.

Mike D. said...

I will always stop and watch this version at least for a while if I come across it on TV. I've read the book several times, the last time two or three years ago when it became available as an e-book.

Richard Moore said...

I've seen both long and short versions of the film several times./ The short version I first watched with my mom around 1958 or 59 and then read the novel while in high school. Loved both and reread the novel every few years. I've wondered if Hilton was influenced by Talbot Mundy and his stories of Jimgrim, A character who resembles Robert Conway in many respects.

Richard Moore

Tom Johnson said...

It's been too many years since I saw the movie, but I remember liking it a lot. I loved the book. Yeah, the ending wasn't good, and I wouldn't mind an updated version with a better ending. I'm kind of goofy when it comes to good endings - I like em that way. I even like the remake of The Time Machine for that reason, as well as the remake of On The Beach. Give me a good ending, please. LOL