Monday, February 3, 2014

She Again!

Late last spring I finally got around to reading H.Rider Haggard's epic novel She and at that same time got hold of the 1935 movie adaptation. Go here to read what I thought of those if you'd like. But recently Turner Classics put on the other famous version of She, this starring the stunning Ursula Andress in the...ahem...titular role.

Take a gander.

It's difficult to overstate how beautiful Andress is in this movie, she's just fabulous, worthy of all the praise I've seen heaped on this flick. Her oddly stiff acting style actually enhances the alien nature of Ayesha who having lived for thousands of years can be a bit odd to say the least. And her exotic beauty does indeed connote something at once alluring and dangerous and intoxicating. You can understand why some guy might jump into a fire for her.

But if it were only her in this flick it would be a boring lot indeed, as staring at a pretty face however attractive gets dull eventually. The Hammer gang is along for this wild ride through deserts and mountains into the long-forgotten and distance lost city Ayesha rules. We have stalwarts Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee on hand as always, the classic tag team of 60's weird horror giving their usual bravura performances. Cushing's rendition of Holley is actually less restrained than many of his presentations and a welcome change from his usually internal and intellectual characters. Holley here is loyal bounder. Bernard Cribbins is on hand as the loyal Job and does a crackerjack job in a thankless but necessary role. Lee is the counter-villain in this one plotting against our heroes and Ayesha and he gives his usual oily venomous performance.

Cribbins, Cushing, Andress, and Richardson
The surprise for me was how good John Richardson was as Leo. He's not an actor who has impressed me in the past, but he does a pretty good job playing a man overwhelmed by the events which have swallowed up and largely demolished his ego and his life. Rosenda Monteros is wonderful as the girl Ustane who loves Leo and challenges Ayesha. Her fate is a real stunner in a flick that turns in on itself neatly with an ending which does justice to the time invested.

I liked this one much more than I expected. I feared it would be dreary, with Andress being deadly dull. It's not, and she's certainly not. I can see why people hold this version in such high regard. It's a good one.

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