She (1935 film)

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She (1935).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Lansing C. Holden
Irving Pichel
Produced by Merian C. Cooper
Screenplay by Dudley Nichols
Ruth Rose
Based on She
by H. Rider Haggard
Starring Helen Gahagan
Randolph Scott
Helen Mack
Nigel Bruce
Gustav von Seyffertitz
Music by Max Steiner
Cinematography J. Roy Hunt
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • July 12, 1935 (1935-07-12) (United States)
Running time
102 min (original theatrical release)
94 min. (1949 re-release)

She is a 1935 American film produced by Merian C. Cooper. Based on H. Rider Haggard's novel of the same name, the screenplay combines elements from all the books in the series: She: A History of Adventure, She and Allan, Ayesha: The Return of She and Wisdom's Daughter. The film reached a new generation of moviegoers with a 1949 re-release.

The ancient civilization of Kor is depicted in an Art Deco style with imaginative special effects. The setting is Arctic Siberia, rather than in Africa, as in the first book. The third book is set in the Himalayas. With music by Max Steiner, the film stars Helen Gahagan, Randolph Scott and Nigel Bruce.

It was hoped that She would follow Cooper's previous success, King Kong. Cooper had originally intended to shoot the film in color, but budget cuts by RKO forced him to shoot the film in black and white at the last minute.[1] However, the black and white film had disappointing results at the box office. It initially lost $180,000, although it later had a successful re-release.[1][2] The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of the 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.[3]

In 2006, Legend Films and Ray Harryhausen colorized the film as a tribute to Cooper. The colorized trailer for She premiered at the 2006 Comic-Con.[4]

She was considered a lost film for many years until an original print, stored in silent film star Buster Keaton's garage, was turned over to film distributor Raymond Rohauer for preservation.[5]

She originally had a running time of 102 minutes, but on its 1949 re-release, was edited down to 94 minutes, to better fit on a double bill with Cooper's The Last Days of Pompeii.

The 8 minutes of missing scenes, taken from a slightly lower quality 16mm print,[6][7] were finally reinstated in 2007 by Kino Video.[8]

Characters and story[edit]

Leo Vincey (Randolph Scott) is called from America to the family's ancestral estate in England where his dying uncle John Vincey (Samuel S. Hinds) and Horace Holly (Nigel Bruce) convince him that their ancestor, also named John Vincey (also played by Scott) found the fountain of youth 500 years ago.

Following the route outlined in an old journal, Leo and Holly travel through frozen wastes, as a guide named Tugmore and his daughter, Tanya (Helen Mack) join them on their quest. They stumble upon the ancient city of Kor, where they are attacked by cannibals but are saved by She Who Must Be Obeyed (Helen Gahagan) and her Minister Billali (Gustav von Seyffertitz).

She believes that Leo is the reincarnation of her lover, John Vincey and vows to make him immortal like herself to rule this shangri-la in eternal youth. Tanya warns Leo that nothing human can live forever. At the end, She asks Leo to step into the Flame of Life with her, so that they can become immortal. When Leo hesitates, She offers to step in first. Rather than renewing her youth, She ages hundreds of years, becomes a withered mummy-like creature and dies. Leo, Holly and Tanya then safely make their escape.

The title character inspired Disney's Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

The "ageless ice goddess"[9] served as inspiration for the Evil Queen in Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.[10][11]

Differences from the novel[edit]

The film version conflates characters, events and locations from all three books:

  • The location of Ayesha's realm is a free adaptation from the second novel. In the film, it is located in the extreme north of the Russian Arctic, whereas in the original novel She the city of Kor is located in eastern Africa, in the caldera of an extinct volcano. The second novel, Ayesha has a reincarnated Ayesha living in a remote valley in the Himalayas, just south of Tibet, inhabited by descendents of a lost troop of Greek soldiers from the time of Alexander the Great.
  • In the books, Ayesha is so beautiful that she must be veiled at all times. The film skirts this (although Ayesha is veiled in her first on-screen appearance), and it does not mention all of the supernatural powers the books ascribe to her.[citation needed]
  • The film does not mention any of the Egyptian, African, or Arabian back story from the books.
  • The character of Tanya does not appear in any of the books; rather, she is a composite of the other rivals for Leo's affections: the Amahagger maiden Ustane from She, the Khania Atene from Ayesha and, Inez, the daughter of the trader Robertson, from She and Allan. In the books, Ayesha directly claims that Atene is the reincarnation of her ancient Egyptian rival, the Princess Amenertas. The fate of Tanya and the ending are different from the books.



Writing for The Spectator in 1935, Graham Greene reviewed the film positively, but gave a disclaimer that as "an unrepentant Haggard fan" he could not write reasonably about it. Describing the film as showcasing "earnestly manly Boy Scout virtues", Greene did acknowledge that it "bore its symbolism a little heavily", and ultimately characterized it as both thrilling and childish.[12]

Home media[edit]

The 1935 fantasy film She, colorized.

Legend Films release[13]

  • Picture Format: 1.33:1 (1080p 24fps) [AVC MPEG-4]
  • Soundtrack(s): English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dual Mono)
  • Extras (Blu-ray):
    • Things to Come (1936) in colorized and black & white versions
    • Commentary by Ray Harryhausen and Mark Vaz on She
    • Interviews with Ray Harryhausen [She (1080i; 4:32)] [Things to Come (1080i; 3:47)]
    • Colorization Process with Ray Harryhausen [She (1080i; 8:58)] [Things to Come (1080i; 8:51)]
  • Extras (DVD):

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Harryhausen, Ray; Vaz, Mark. She DVD, Legend Films, 2006, audio commentary. ISBN 978-1-60673-060-7
  2. ^ Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p85
  3. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0. 
  4. ^ "Comic-Con 2006 :: Programming for Friday, July 21". Archived from the original on 2007-02-24. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  5. ^ Harper, Marla (August 27, 1989). "'She' (NR)". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  6. ^ Monster Kid Classic Horror Forum Retrieved: 7 May 2012
  7. ^ Nitrateville classic film forum Retrieved: 7 May 2012
  8. ^ DVDCompare Retrieved: 7 May 2012
  9. ^ "The Wonderful World of WALT: Walt Disney and the Villain | Disney Insider". Retrieved May 4, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Disney Villains: Queen". Archived from the original on February 27, 2011. Retrieved November 6, 2013. 
  11. ^ "D23′s Dateline Disney: 1935 (Evil Queen) « Disney D23". December 10, 2012. Archived from the original on December 16, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  12. ^ Greene, Graham (25 October 1935). "Joan of Arc/Turn of the Tide/Top Hat/She". The Spectator.  (reprinted in: John Russel, Taylor, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome. p. 32. ISBN 0192812866. )
  13. ^

External links[edit]