Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Lost Horizon - from disaster to delightful

Lost Horizon (1973)

A lavish musical remake of Frank Capra's film about the discovery of Shangri La - where people never grow old, starring Peter Finch, George Kennedy, Bobby Van, Olivia Hussey, Michael York and Sally Kellerman -- with peppy tunes by Burt Bacharach and Hal David seemed like a sure fire hit, right? ummm not so much.

In 1973, this film was post CABARET. It was no longer fashionable for modern day characters to break into song in a musical, much less to be dubbed by other singers. LOST HORIZON was an easy target. The expectations for it were high, almost unreasonable.

Film critic Pauline Kael also questioned why the film's Shangri-La population had no black people?!

There were two targets to be hit, the producer, ROSS HUNTER and BURT BACHARACH and the critics were out to get them.
Ross Hunter had enjoyed decades of success as a producer and LOST HORIZON was his follow up film to his 1970 blockbuster AIRPORT which was Universal's biggest moneymaker up to that time and triggered a decade of disaster films.

Lost Horizon tanked in the USA horribly, and proved to be a different kind of DISASTER FILM. It was nicknamed "Lost Investment."

The entire film can be found lovingly downloaded here : www.youtube.com/user/LostHorizonMov

production notes:

The plane crash survivors actually walk through Griffith Park's Bronson Cave (tunnel) when they leave snowy Tibet and arrive in lush Shangri-La at the other end.

The Shangri-La buildings on WB Burbank lot were refurbished left-over "Camelot" castle sets. After Lost Horizon, they were often used on TV's "Kung Fu".

The screenplay was written by gay civil rights legend, author/playwright Larry Kramer. He called it "the only thing in my life I'm ashamed of ".

Here is the complete library scene from Lost Horizon (1973) in which Sally Kellerman and Olivia Hussey perform "The things i will not miss".

Here is the same song performed delightfully by 2 guys named Moshe and Joost in Amsterdam. Now THIS is what YOU TUBE is for !! bravo!

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