Article #1199 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 6-26-2004
Posting Date: 11-23-2004
Directed by Leander de Cordova and G. B. Samuelson
Featuring Betty Blythe, Carlyle Blackwell Sr., Mary Odette
Three men take a trip to the wilds of Libya to investigate the report of an ancient culture.
Here’s another take on the H. Rider Haggard novel. It’s far more elaborate than the twenty-minute 1911 version (this one runs almost 100 minutes), but I think it lacks the spectacle of the 1935 version. The main attraction here is obviously Betty Blythe, though not for her acting; actually, I think she lacks the haughty imperiousness that would seem to be necessary for the role. No, it’s her costumes that steal the movie; for the most part, they’re either incredibly skimpy or see-through; in fact, she does her scene bathing in the pillar of fire in the nude. Despite these touches, I think this movie is slow-moving and lacking in spectacle; once they arrive in the Ayesha’s kingdom, we barely see any of her subjects, and the only characters appear to be the three heroes, Ayesha, and the native girl. All in all, I found this one a bit of a bore, and would opt for the 1935 version at this point of time.