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This retelling of the classic tale of James Hilton's Utopian lost world plays out uneasily amid musical production numbers and Bacharach pop music. While escaping war-torn China, a group of Europeans crash in the Himalayas, where they are rescued and taken to the mysterious Valley of the Blue Moon, Shangri-La. Hidden from the rest of the world, Shangri-La is a haven of peace and tranquility for world-weary diplomat Richard Conway. His ambitious brother, George, sees it as a prison from which he must escape, even if it means risking his life and bringing destruction to the ancient culture of Shangri-La. Written by
Marg Baskin <email@example.com>
As Bette Midler used to say, "I never miss a Liv Ullman musical". Here is a film which attempts to inspire and uplift, and I guess it succeeds, if for reasons quite different from those intended.
Unless they attempt a musical version of "Schindler's List" this will probably be the all time champion in the "Play it straight" stakes. James Hilton's novella, heaven knows, was a piece of fluff which tantalised rather than explored its themes. The 1937 film was a winner because, hey, what Frank Capra film in the '30s wasn't?
But if we had to have a musical version, wouldn't it have been a good idea to hire a couple of musical stars?! Okay, at a push Bobby Van passes muster, and thank God that he's meant to be that annoying, because after five minutes the idea of him being lost in a snowdrift seemed eminently satisfying. But as for the rest - George Kennedy, Peter Finch, Sally Kellermann, John Gielgud, Olivia Hussey - well we aren't going to see them in a revival of "42nd Street" now are we? My favourite definitely has to be Kellermann and Hussey thumping around a library, the former looking bored, the latter very pregnant, singing what seems to be a 70s New Age version of the "Green Acres" theme.
But its Liv who suffers most. Swinging those bovine limbs of hers, singing some nonsense about the world being a circle which never ends - an apt description of the song - she seems light years away from Bergman. Actually she bears a striking resemblance to Bill Clinton in some of her long shots.
Only Michael York emerges with any credibilty. And that's mainly because his character keeps nagging everybody to run away. And who could blame him?
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