LOST HORIZON tribute SHANGRI-LA! Burt Bacharach
About This Video
Added: October 18, 2007
The most wonderful endearing and campy musical films of ALL TIME. The 1973 musical remake of the James Hilton novel about mythical SHANGRI-LA! is a real special gem. Music by BURT BACHARACH and lyrics by HAL DAVID. A strange mixture of straight drama, adventure and musical sequences. Starring PETER FINCH, LIV ULLMANN, SALLY KELLERMAN, GEORGE KENNEDY, MICHAEL YORK, OLIVIA HUSSEY, BOBBY VAN, JAMES SHIGETA, JOHN GIELGUD and CHARLES BOYER. This film was a critical and financial disappointment in the United States, but made alot of money overseas. Only in America did it fail. Highly different and unique in it's approach as a film musical, it deserves far better credit than it's given. As a story, LOST HORIZON is an incredible adventure and both the 1937 Frank Capra fiim and this 1973 musical are faithful adaptations of the James Hilton novel. What I like about the 1973 version is the freedom in which the musical numbers are presented. The film has a prestigious cast and a gifted director and cinematographer. This is a BURT BACHARACH Shangri-La and it's a wonderful place. Songs like THE WORLD IS A CIRCLE, SHARE THE JOY and LIVING TOGETHER, GROWING TOGETHER evoke a happiness that Hilton wrote about in his novel. Why shouldn't Shangri-La be a slightly goofy place? The two love songs, I MIGHT FRIGHTEN HER AWAY and the deleted I COME TO YOU are the sensitive spots in the picture. There's a peacefulness and soft spoken quality in both these songs that is very much keeping with the philosophy of the story. Moreover, THE THINGS I WILL NOT MISS is a good exchange of different kinds of perspectives and who can fault with Olivia Hussey and Sally Kellerman stomping, singing and dancing on tables? They're a wonderful duo and the song is well staged. I always found it interesting in this story how the High Lama kidnaps someone from the outside world to take his place in Shangri-La. The High Lama is a gentle soul but somewhat radical in his view of mankind as a whole. He has no hope for the world outside of Shangri-La. If this film were to be remade, I would like to see more emphasis put on the leading character, RICHARD CONWAY'S conflict with what he left behind in the outside as opposed to what he's found in Shangri-La. Flash backs of his life and his relationships in the outside world as opposed to what he's found living in Shangri-La. This would, I imagine. pose a great deal of questions and sadness. The deleted song in this version, IF I COULD GO BACK touched on this, but wasn't fully realized. Of course, for the film to be believable, the character must be presented as suffering amnesia at the end. Did he find Shangri-La or was it imagined? Did they all die in the plane crash? Every man has his own idea of what his Shangri-La would be. I like the melancholy on the faces of Kellerman, Kennedy and Van as they watch their friends leave Shangri-La. Interesting how Conway doesn't want to leave paradise, but is being pressured out by his brother. Both versions of LOST HORIZON work in different ways, but both are successful in probing James Hiltons ideas of a hidden valley where money has no value. Moderation is the ruling and every moment has a choice. LOST HORIZON has a much stronger story than most musicals. It attempts to answer basic questions of life and one can hardly fault it for not succeeding. Why shouldn't Shangri-La be a slightly goofy place? In 1973 this film was post CABARET. It was no longer fashionable for characters to break out in 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. 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 That film was Universals biggest moneymaker up to that time and the success of that picture triggered a decade of disaster films. For years AIRPORT was the most watched film ever to be shown on television. It was nominated for 11 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Up until 1973 Burt Bacharach and Hal David could do no wrong. They were the most successful songwriters in the country. The unabashed sentimentality of LOST HORIZON hardly had a chance in the wake of the breakdown of censorship with films like EASY RIDER, MIDNIGHT COWBOY and THE GODFATHER. Sex and violence was a new frontier in the late 60's and early 70's Audiences were flocking to films with content that they were not use to seeing on the screen. Today LOST HORIZON can be enjoyed and appreciated on several levels. It's the ultimate escapist film and an healing one at that. It's unconventional in the sense that the music is not introduced until 45 minutes into the film. It changes course in a dramatic and startling way.