Lost Horizon (1973)


Bil’s rating (out of 5): B

USA, 1973. , . Screenplay by , based on the novel by . Cinematography by . Produced by . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by .  Podcast: Bad Gay Movies

A film that gained notoriety for its disastrous quality almost immediately upon release, and the years since have done little to change the fact that it is a genuine stinker. Remade from the 1937 Frank Capra film, it now has (filling in for Ronald Colman) leading a group of Americans escaping a dangerous war in China on an airplane that crashes in the Himalayas. They are rescued by a group of locals led by (as “Chang”) who take them to a mystically beautiful valley called Shangri-La, a place that is always summery and warm despite being surrounded by the ice-covered peaks of central Asia, and where its inhabitants live in peaceful harmony to near two-century ages without losing their youthful appearances. Finch immediately falls in love with Shangri-La resident , his brother is taken with young (?) after she provides some light dinner entertainment, and crash survivors and find themselves sloughing off the stress of the outside world and seeing each other in a more positive light (I guess all those oiled up athletic men in the tiny orange loincloths aren’t available to her).  is on hand to provide song and dance talents because, as if the bland dialogue and incredibly limp plot weren’t enough, the film is a musical and as badly conceived as ever a musical was. Burt Bacharach and Hal David, who were apparently in the process of dissolving their partnership during production, contribute a host of songs that, even when they are tuneful and charming, have far too little to do with the tone of the rest of the production, and the numbers feel inserted by accident. Not that they interrupt any good drama, mind you, as the characters either settle into Shangri-La and have a good time or immediately decide they need to leave without saying why, there’s no conflict or stakes except for the overlying message that humans can’t ever have utopia because we’re too vulnerable to fear and suspicion. This is borne out poorly in an endless series of dull romantic scenes that involve none of the characters having any chemistry or even noticeable characteristics. Robert Surtees provides bright and colourful cinematography but otherwise it’s a wash, and while none of the cast seem particularly put out to be in it, all of them have fared so much better in just about everything else.

One Comment Add yours

  1. fellinihexed says:

    This sounds fantastically awful. I’m SO in. 

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