Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Summer fun: She

Thats Ayesha, She Who Must Be Obeyed to you. It was great fun to revisit this Hammer film from 1965 which I remember vividly seeing at my local fleapit (The Coliseum, Harlesden) then when I was 19 and new in London.

The late respected film critic  Raymond Durgnat reviewing the film in "Films & Filming" correctly described its star Ursula Andress as being one of cinema's great exotics. How right he was. Her otherworld looks and voice are ideal here as the ageless queen of that tribe lost in deepest Africa, as she waits century after century for her lover to be returned to her. His reincarnation arrives in the manly form of Leo - John Richardson (Barbra Streisand also drooled over him in the Regency flashbacks in ON A CLEAR DAY YOU CAN SEE FOREVER, 1970). Leo is travelling with Professor Holly (reliable Peter Cushing) and their comic servant Bernard Cribbins when his likeliness to the long departed Killkrates (also Richardson) is spotted and our travellers are soon waylaid. The lovely Ustane (Rosenda Monteros) tries to help them as she loves Leo too - but She will brook no rivals. The natives who eventually revolt against her cruelty are led by the also reliable Andre Morell (who has a great moment when his daughter is returned to him in a jar of ashes), and of course Christopher Lee is the high priest who thinks he has a chance with She .... 

H. Rider Haggard's classic story is well served by this Hammer adaptation, quite plush by their standards (see Horror label), and of course we get the famous scene when She draws Leo into the icy eternal blue flame. This is enjoyable kitch hokum, ideal for a summer re-view, or to discover for the first time. It is a key Hammer too along with their early best Dracula, Mummy and Frankenstein films. We like SHE a lot. Ursula was on a roll then, after being pals with James Dean in the '50s, whether emerging from the sea in DR NO, or parachuting into the frenzy of WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT, with her immortal line to Peter O'Toole: "Come back to bed immediately". 
We will also have to re-watch Joan Fontaine and Kay Walsh in Hammer's 1966 THE WITCHES - its a scream. 

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