Some 36 years after Frank Capra’s filmization of James Hillton’s Lost Horizon novel premiered comes producer Ross Hunter’s lavish updated and musical adaptation. The form is that of filmed operetta in three acts, superbly mounted, and cast with an eye to international markets.
The script structure parallels that of the Capra film – opening after the majestic main title landscape of snowy mountains with the tumultous escape from rioting Asians in a kidnapped plane; the crash in the uncharted Himalayas rescued by an inscrutable major domo who takes the disparate survivors to the nestled Utopia of Shangri-La, where the outsiders resolve their personal destinies.
Peter Finch heads the cast as Conway, an international statesman selected by high lama Charles Boyer to succeed to rule of Shangri-La, where the world’s wisdom is being preserved against the foreseen Apocalypse. Sir John Gielgud is the high lama’s chief aide who reveals the mystery of the place to Finch.
Only Michael York, in a dramatically-crippled supporting banana role, and Olivia Hussey, an awkwardly exotic soubrette, fail to get off the ground.