She (1965)

OPINION AND WRITING BY TONY FRAME

FILM ⭐⭐ DVD TRANSFER ⭐⭐⭐

She is one of Hammer Film Productions‘ more forgotten of films, one that I never ever caught on television in my childhood or adolescence, nor was I aware of its existence until I got the Hammer 21 disc set box collection.

Ursula Andress plays a seductress who lures John Richardson (of One Million Years B.C fame) to go on an adventure with his world-war one comrades (Peter Cushing and Bernard Cribbins) in this ambitious and low-budget swords and sandals cross genre mini-epic, set in the early twentieth century.

IMAGES COURTESY OF IMDB

The journey they undertake yields the promise of finding a lost Egyptian city with riches beyond their wildest dreams. The sub-plot reveals Andress has ulterior motives and from there the adventure takes a couple of turns involving ritual sacrifices and a prophecy of immortality.

The story in itself is very interesting and original. The problem, however, lies in the pacing and the writing. With such a strong cast – that includes Christopher Lee as Andress’ trusted and loyal servant – I was hoping that there would be more action and peril to Richardson and his co-stars. Instead, the script focuses on Andress telling of her plans throughout the film which diminishes the element of surprise and mystery that surrounds her and her motivations.

IMAGES COURTESY OF IMDB

One thing that does depreciate the film’s realism are the sets in the latter half of the movie. With such a good HD transfer the rocks and backgrounds of the Egpytian stone city look fake and are too brightly lit; a testament to the budgetary limitations no doubt.

At 106 minutes the film felt way too long for me, but it did conclude with a slightly surprising ending that certainly elevated its stock.

Interestingly enough I couldn’t help but feel this film must have influenced Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom to some degree. There is a scene where slaves who have revolted are thrown into a pit of molten lava and then, later on, one of the main characters is hung above the pit in a cage, with the threat of being lowered into it which resonates with the sacrifices in Temple of Doom.

Couple that with the similarity that both films have adventures in catacombs and underground temples I would be very surprised if this was merely just a coincidence.

That aside, She just didn’t have that spark about it like other Hammer films have. And with such a good cast it felt a wasted opportunity. Ultimately it’s ambition was let down by its budget, but predominantly more so by the quality of the writing.

Director: Robert Day

Writers: David T. Chantler (screenplay), H. Rider Haggard (based on the famous novel by).

Starring: Ursula Andress, John Richardson , Peter Cushing, Bernard Cribbins, Christopher Lee

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