(director: Alfred Green; screenwriters: Julien Josephson/based on the play by William Archer; cinematographer: James Van Trees; editor: James Gribbon; music: Louis Silvers; cast: George Arliss (The Rajah of Rukh), H. B. Warner (Major Crespin), Ralph Forbes (Dr. Basil Traherne), Alice Joyce (Lucilla Crespin), Ivan F. Simpson (Watkins), Reggy Sheffield (Lt. Cardew), David Tearle (Temple high priest), Nigel de Brulier (Hermit priest), Betty Boyd (Ayah); Runtime: 73; MPAA Rating: NR; Warner Brothers Pictures; 1930-B/W)

“The hammy George Arliss also starred in the 1923 silent version of The Green Goddess.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The hammy George Arliss also starred in the 1923 silent version of The Green Goddess. It was remade in 1942 as Adventure in Iraq. In the talkie remake, Alfred Green (“Dangerous”/”Sierra”) efficiently directs this old-fashioned English colonialist film and it is acceptable if you can appreciate that it’s outdated and politically incorrect. It’s based on the creaky play by William Archer, and is written with a few chuckles in it by Julien Josephson.The low-budget B-film reused parts from the silent version.

A small plane from India runs into a heavy fog by the Himalayas and crash-lands at the kingdom of Rukh, an isolated area located in the remote part of India. On board are the pilot Dr. Basil Traherne (Ralph Forbes) and Major Crespin (H. B. Warner) and his wife Lucilla Crespin (Alice Joyce). Though the plane is too damaged to fly, they’re not injured and end up as guests of a polite but sly turban wearing Rajah (George Arliss), who speaks a perfect English. When the visitors ask for transportation back to India, the smiling Rajah informs them that his three brothers are to be executed tomorrow in India for a political murder by the British rulers and in retaliation they will also be killed tomorrow. The haughty rajah’s the ruler of a primitive tribe, who as heathens worship the Green Goddess and believe she brought the three Brits here so they can carry out their vengeful policy of “An eye for an eye.”The major and the pilot hear the wireless used to send and receive messages, and the only one who knows how to use it in the palace is Watkins (Ivan F. Simpson). He’s the English butler and jack-of-all-trades, who is a wanted criminal in both India and England, and is employed in a cushy job by the rajah. The Brits at first ask the rajah for mercy, but are told by him he will not relent because “Asia has a long score against you swaggering lords.” The Brits then decide to bribe Watkins to send a message to India for help and after accepting two thousand pounds, he instead only pretends to send one. The men then bind and toss him off the balcony to his death. Meanwhile the Major remembers at the last minute how to work the wireless and gets off the message just as the rajah comes into the room and fatally shoots him.

The villainous rajah meanwhile has the hots for Lucilla and tells her that even though he must kill the men he will spare her if she becomes his queen, and tells her furthermore he will bring her two children living in India to stay with them at his palace. But she refuses, saying her marriage was over with the major and she loves the doctor.

The next morning the Brits send in a squadron of planes to circle the palace, and thereby they rescue Lucilla and Basil.

The best line in the film is the last one, when the rajah says “Well, she would have probably been a damn nuisance.”

It’s worth noting that at one point in the film there was played the “Funeral March of a Marionette,” a short piece by Charles Gounod, which was used as the theme music on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents television show.