JOURNEY TO THE LOST CITY
(director/writer: Fritz Lang; screenwriters: from the novel by Thea von Harbou/Thea von Harbou/Werner Jörg Lüddecke; cinematographer: Richard Angst; editor: Walter Wischniewsky; music: Michel Michelet; cast: Debra Paget (Seetha), Paul Hubschmid (Harald Berger), Walter Reyer (Maharaja of Eshnapur), Claus Holm (Dr. Walter Rhode), René Deltgen(Prince Ramigani), Luciana Paoluzzi (Bahrani); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Louis de Masure/Eberhard Meichsner; Sinister Cinema; 1960-West Germany-dubbed in English)
“Routine melodrama comes across cheesy due to the poor dubbing and bland performances.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The first time Fritz Lang (“M”/”Ministry of Fear”/”The Big Heat”)worked for a German film company after fleeing Germany from the Nazis in the thirties to work in Hollywood. This film was originally one of two films made in the cliffhanger serial tradition. Journey to the Lost city was the sequel to Der Tiger von Eschnapur, but in this version both films are combined. It’s based on the novel by Thea von Harbou, Lang’s former Nazi wife. The routine melodrama comes across cheesy due to the poor dubbing and bland performances.
It tells of the forbidden romance between the beautiful Indian temple dancer Seetha (Debra Paget) and the handsome European architect Harald Berger (Paul Hubschmid), who is in the lost city to build a hospital at the invitation of Chandra, the Maharaja of Eshnapur (Walther Reyer). The dancer is there because the lonesome widow Chandra has become smitten with her and invites her to dance at the temple. The lovers flee Eshnapur and are hunted by the Maharaja. There’s also a plot by Chandra’s evil older brother Prince Ramigani (René Deltgen) to take over the throne by encouraging his brother to marry the commoner dancer and thereby have his subjects revolt with this decision that goes against tradition.
When the fleeing lovers are captured by the Maharajah’s soldiers, the dancer reluctantly agrees to marry the Maharajah to spare the architect’s life. While Chandra prepares to marry Seetha, there’s a palace revolt that is soon crushed with much bloodshed. The Maharajah then learns life lessons about love and politics, and allows the architect and the dancer to leave the ‘lost city’ alive.
It works as a cliffhanger serial type of film, like those shown back in the 1950s. Otherwise it’s one of Lang’s lesser films.
REVIEWED ON 2/3/2011 GRADE: C+