LOST HORIZON (1973)
Article 3416 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-9-2010
Posting Date: 12-21-2010
Directed by Charles Jarrott
Featuring Peter Finch, Liv Ullmann, Sally Kellerman
What it is: Musical fantasy
Refugees from a failed UN peace mission are on a plane that is hijacked to a remote location in the middle of nowhere. There they discover the Utopian world of Shangri-La… but is the lure of their own world too great for them to stay there?
I believe it was in “The Book of Lists” that I read a story about a country who decided to shorten the length of the movie version of THE SOUND OF MUSIC but cutting all the songs. Though it’s hard to imagine such a thing happening to that movie, that sounds like it might be a viable approach to handling this one. Not that I have any Utopian ideas of this movie being any undiscovered masterpiece if you removed the songs; it would be essentially an unnecessary, old-fashioned remake of a classic film that didn’t really add anything new to the story and suffered from some dodgy casting. But, of course, something new WAS added, and those are the songs, and every time one of them starts up, I find myself wanting to leave the room out of embarrassment for all concerned. I don’t really point the finger at Burt Bacharach and Hal David; they’re a fine songwriting team who just happened to be saddled with an impossible job that I doubt anyone could have pulled off. As it is, each song is stunningly inappropriate and out of place, and the uninspired performances and choreography just make it all the more painful. Quite frankly, turning this story into a musical was a bad idea for a movie that just happened to get made. Fortunately, there’s always the Capra version to fall back on.