She


1h 35m 1935

Brief Synopsis

Leo Vincey, told by his dying uncle of a lost land visited 500 years ago by his ancestor, heads out with family friend Horace Holly to try to discover the land and its secret of immortality, said to be contained within a mystic fire. Picking up Tanya, a guide's daughter, in the frozen Russian arctic, they stumble upon Kor, revealed to be a hidden civilization ruled over by an immortal queen, called She, who believes Vincey is her long-lost lover John Vincey, Leo's ancestor.

Film Details

Also Known As
H. Rider Haggard's She
Release Date
Jul 12, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel She, A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard (New York, 1886).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
11 reels

Synopsis

Before he dies of radiation poisoning, scientist John Vincey summons his nephew Leo to his home and confides in him the nature of his dangerous experiments. Supported by his partner, Horace Holly, John reveals that for years he has been trying to discover a naturally occurring but extremely rare radioactive element he believes has the power to preserve life. His belief is derived from a five-hundred-year-old letter, handed down through the Vincey family, which states that while English ancestor John Vincey and his wife were living in a Siberian settlement, they came upon a remote but civilized area, a glacial region of volcanic character. There, they learned about the "flame of life," the radioactive element, and the legend that states "he who stands therein comes forth unharmed to triumph over death." According to the letter, which was written by the wife, Vincey found the flame, but was murdered because he refused to renounce his marriage vows. The wife escaped from the north and made her way to Poland, where, upon her death, she bequeathed her son the letter and a gold statuette taken from the tribe. John, in turn, gives the statuette to Leo, who bears a close resemblance to his ancestor, and begs him to travel with Holly and locate the "flame of life." After Leo accepts the mission, John quietly dies. Sometime later, Leo and Holly reach a remote Arctic outpost and are taken in by the brutish Dugmore and his daughter Tanya. Impressed by the gold in the statuette, Dugmore forces Leo and Holly to take him on the last leg of their trip by threatening to turn any potential native guide they may hire against them. Over Leo's objections, Dugmore also insists that Tanya accompany them, and soon Leo and Tanya fall in love. When the expedition reaches the glacial Sugel Barrier, just north of where the legendary civilization is supposed to be located, Dugmore stumbles on an ice-encrusted corpse laden with gold. Although Holly warns him against using his ax to retrieve the gold, Dugmore greedily begins chopping away at the ice and causes an avalanche. Dugmore is killed by a wall of snowy ice, while Leo, Tanya and Holly are cut off from the expedition. The avalanche does, however, expose a passage through the barrier, which leads the trio into a volcanic cave. There, they are surprised by a tribe of cave dwellers, who try to make a human sacrifice out of Holly. When Leo shoots his rifle at the cavemen, a fight ensues and Leo is knocked unconscious. Before the cavemen can capture their visitors, another group, led by Prime Minister Billali, emerges from the shadows and claims the trio for itself. The trio then is taken into the bowels of the cave to a land called Kor, where Leo is laid at the feet of She, Hash-A-Mo-Tep, the mysterious, all-powerful monarch. Upon viewing the still unconscious Leo, the beautiful but merciless She becomes agitated and refers to him as John Vincey. Later, She tells Leo that she is immortal and that he is the reincarnation of Vincey, the man she had loved passionately but had killed in a fit of jealousy, the man whose return she has been expecting for 500 years. After She assures him that the secret of immortality will be his, Leo tells Tanya and Holly to leave without him. Although Tanya tries convince Leo that his love for She is unnatural, she is unable to sway him. Out of jealousy, She then orders Tanya to be used as a human sacrifice in an upcoming ritual. Leo remains under She's romantic spell until he realizes that the veiled sacrificial victim is Tanya. Leo rescues Tanya as she is about to be dropped into a holy well and flees with her and Holly. Jumping across a dangerous precipice, they leave their pursuers behind and stumble onto She's sacred temple. After She admits that they have found the source of her immortality, she insists that Leo immerse himself in the radioactive flame. When he refuses, She enters the flame twice, but instead of rejuvenating her, it causes her to age rapidly until she collapses and dies. Back in England, Holly offers scientific explanations as to why She was killed by the flame, while Tanya is sure that they were saved by true and natural love.

Film Details

Also Known As
H. Rider Haggard's She
Release Date
Jul 12, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel She, A History of Adventure by H. Rider Haggard (New York, 1886).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 35m
Sound
Mono (RCA Victor System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
11 reels

Award Nominations

Best Dance Direction

1936

Quotes

She's wicked I tell you.
- Tanya
Aw, don't be too hard on her. She's strange - and wonderful.
- Leo
Who are you?
- Horace
I am yesterday, today, and tomorrow. I am sorrow and longing an hope unfulfilled. I am She Who Must Be Obeyed!
- She

Trivia

RKO wanted Joel McCrea and Frances Dee for the leads, but was unable to secure them.

The movie lost $180,000 at the box office, a major reason why 'Gahagen, Helen' 's movie career ended abruptly.

For many years, this film version was considered lost. Re-released in 1949 on a famous double-bill along with RKO's Last Days of Pompeii, The (1935).

Notes

H. Rider Haggard's name appears above the onscreen title. The New York Times review describes the film as not "much more than a King Kong edition of 'lost kingdom' melodramas," a reference, no doubt, to the fact that Ruth Rose, who wrote the screenplay for King Kong, and Merian C. Cooper, who produced and co-directed it, also worked on this production. RKO borrowed Randolph Scott from Paramount for the picture. She was only film role played by Helen Gahagan, a noted stage star who was married to actor Melvyn Douglas and later entered California politics. In 1950, she was defeated in Congress by Richard M. Nixon. According to September 1934 Hollywood Reporter news item, RKO contemplated filming She in Technicolor. Artist and illustrator Dan Groesbeck contributed special art work to the production, according to Film Daily. A Daily Variety news item announced that Dr. Luido Gorgastin, an Italian psychiatrist, was hired to give director Irving Pichel "technical pointers." Dance director Benjamin Zemach received an Academy Award nomination for his work on the "Hall of Kings" number.
       According to modern sources, RKO wanted Joel McCrea and his wife, Frances Dee, for the leads but was unable to secure them. Modern sources also state that the film lost $180,000 at the box office and contend that this failure contributed to the demise of Gahagan's screen career. Other versions of Haggard's novel include a 1908 Edison short directed by Edwin C. Porter; a 1917 Fox Film production, starring Valeska Suratt and directed by Kenean Buel (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.3967); a 1925 British production, starring Betty Blythe and directed by Leander de Cordova; a 1965 British Hammer Film production, starring Ursula Andress and directed by Robert Day; and the 1967 British Hammer film The Vengeance of She, directed by Cliff Owen (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70; F6.4444 and F6.5332). A July 16, 1935 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Jack Stern, a "New York theater man," and his associate, who controlled the rights to the "synchronized silent version" of She, were planning a Broadway re-issue to coincide with the RKO release. It is not known if this silent version was the 1917 or 1925 picture.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1935

Released in United States 1974

Recently discovered original nitrate print of "lost film."

Released in United States 1935

Released in United States 1974 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition March 28 - April 9, 1974)