At a family estate in England, John Vincey (Samuel S. Hinds) is dying of radiation poisoning. With him is his friend Horace Holly (Nigel Bruce). John has summoned his nephew Leo Vincey (Randolph Scott) from America to convince him to set off on an expedition. Five hundred years ago another John Vincey and his wife went on a journey to the frozen waste land of a country known as Muscovy beyond something called the Shugal Barrier. It is said he was searching for the equivalent of the fountain of youth. In this case a fire that burns cold. John’s wife managed to return but soon died of radiation poisoning. John never returned. The current John Vincey wants his nephew Leo and his oldest friend Holly to continue the search.
Leo and Holly enlist the aid of a guide named Dugmore (Lumsden Hare) and his daughter Tanya (Helen Mack). During the expedition Dugmore and their bearers are buried in an Avalanche. Leo, Holly and Tanya find a cave and run into a nasty tribe of cannibals. They are saved by soldiers from an ancient city called Kor. The ruler of Kor is a woman known as She or She Who Must Be Obeyed (Helen Gahagan). She is served by a high priest called Billali (Gustav von Seyffertitz).
When She sees Leo she believes that he is the reincarnation of her lover, the original John Vincey, whom she killed out of jealousy centuries ago. She is immortal having stood in the fires of eternal youth. Now that she has found him She intends on making Leo immortal as well.
Unfortunately Tanya and Leo have become very close and jealousy once again begins to raise its ugly head. This time She plans on getting rid of Tanya and not Leo.
“She” was released in 1935 and was directed by Lansing C. Holden and produced by Merian C. Cooper. It is loosely based on H. Rider Haggard’s series of “She” novels. The film actually lost money when it was released. Originally 102 minutes long, in 1949 is was released in a 94 minute version. There is a color version of this film but I haven’t run across it. The film was originally supposed to be in color, however, budget cuts required it to be filmed in black and white. Ray Harryhausen and his company "Legend Films" later colorized the film as a tribute to Cooper.
There are some really good special effects in the film. Some wonderful matte paintings and the avalanche sequence was quite good. There is a sacrificial ceremony that is a production worthy of MGM extravaganzas instead of RKO. The music was composed by Max Steiner.
Helen Gahagan's depiction of the "ageless ice goddess" served as inspiration for the Evil Queen in Walt Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" 1937. In 1944 she was the third woman and first Democrat elected to Congress from California. Helen ran for the Senate in 1950. She lost against Richard Nixon. She popularized the nickname “Tricky Dick”. She had a well known affair with Lyndon B. Johnson.
Jim Thorpe has a small part as the Captain of the Guard. Thorpe was a Native American well know in the sports arena as an Olympic star. He also did some acting, playing small parts.
If you want to see Nigel Bruce in something besides Sherlock Holmes, now’s your chance. Unfortunately he’s not all that much smarter here either.
For years the movie was considered lost until Buster Keaton gave a copy to film historian Raymond Rohauer that he had stored in his garage.
The huge gate to the entrance of the great hall is the same one used in “King Kong” 1933. It was also supposedly used in “The King of Kings" (I’m not sure if it’s in reference to the 1927 version or the 1961 version), " The Garden Of Allah" 1936, and "Gone With The Wind" 1939.