She (1935 film)

She is a 1935 American film produced by Merian C. Cooper. Based on H. Rider Haggard's 1887 novel of the same name, the screenplay combines elements from all the books in the series: She: A History of Adventure, She and Allan, Ayesha: The Return of She and Wisdom's Daughter. The film reached a new generation of moviegoers with a 1949 re-release.

She (1935).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLansing C. Holden
Irving Pichel
Produced byMerian C. Cooper
Screenplay byDudley Nichols
Ruth Rose
Based onShe
by H. Rider Haggard
StarringHelen Gahagan
Randolph Scott
Helen Mack
Nigel Bruce
Gustav von Seyffertitz
Music byMax Steiner
CinematographyJ. Roy Hunt
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • July 12, 1935 (1935-07-12) (United States)
Running time
102 min (original theatrical release)
94 min. (1949 re-release)

The ancient civilization of Kor is depicted in an Art Deco style with imaginative special effects. The setting is Arctic Siberia, rather than in Africa, as in the first book. With music by Max Steiner, the film stars Helen Gahagan, Randolph Scott and Nigel Bruce.

It was hoped that She would follow Cooper's previous success, King Kong. Cooper had originally intended to shoot the film in color, but budget cuts by RKO forced him to shoot the film in black and white at the last minute.[1] However, the black and white film had disappointing results at the box office. It initially lost $180,000, although it later had a successful re-release.[1][2] The film is listed in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book The Official Razzie Movie Guide as one of the 100 Most Enjoyably Bad Movies Ever Made.[3]


Helen Gahagan in costume as the title character.

Leo Vincey (Randolph Scott) is called from America to the family's ancestral estate in England where his dying uncle John Vincey (Samuel S. Hinds) and Horace Holly (Nigel Bruce) convince him that their ancestor, also named John Vincey (also played by Scott), found the fountain of youth 500 years ago.

Following the route outlined in an old journal, Leo and Holly travel through frozen wastes, as a guide named Tugmore and his daughter Tanya (Helen Mack) join them on their quest. They stumble upon the ancient city of Kor, where they are attacked by cannibals but are saved by She Who Must Be Obeyed (Helen Gahagan) and her Minister Billali (Gustav von Seyffertitz).

She believes that Leo is the reincarnation of John Vincey — her lover many years ago — and vows to make him immortal like herself to rule this Shangri-La in eternal youth. Tanya warns Leo that nothing human can live forever. At the end, She asks Leo to step into the Flame of Life with her, so that they can become immortal. When Leo hesitates, She offers to step in first. Rather than renewing her youth, She ages hundreds of years, becomes a withered mummy-like creature and dies. Leo, Holly, and Tanya then safely make their escape.

Gahagan's depiction of the "ageless ice goddess"[4] inspired the Evil Queen in Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.[5][6]



In July 1932, Universal Studios announced they had bought the rights to the story.[7]

In July 1934, RKO announced they would make the film the following year as one of the studio's big productions.[8] Helen Gahagan's and Nigel Bruce's casting was announced in January 1935.[9] It was Gahagan's first movie after a long theatre career.[10]

Athlete Jim Thorpe had a small role in the film.[11]


Writing for The Spectator in 1935, Graham Greene reviewed the film positively, but gave a disclaimer that as "an unrepentant Haggard fan" he could not write reasonably about it. Describing the film as showcasing "earnestly manly Boy Scout virtues", Greene did acknowledge that it "bore its symbolism a little heavily", and ultimately characterized it as both thrilling and childish.[12]

Later releasesEdit

She originally had a running time of 102 minutes, but was edited to 94 minutes for its 1949 re-release to better fit on a double bill with Cooper's The Last Days of Pompeii.

She was among the films believed lost in a fire at the RKO archives[13], but an original print was discovered in the garage of the silent film star Buster Keaton and was turned over to film distributor Raymond Rohauer for preservation.[14]

In 2006, Legend Films and Ray Harryhausen colorized the film as a tribute to Cooper. The colorized trailer for She premiered at the 2006 Comic-Con.[15]

In 2007, Kino Video produced a version that reinstated the eight minutes of scenes deleted in the 1949 release,[16] drawing from a slightly lower-quality 16mm print.[17][18]

Home mediaEdit

The 1935 fantasy film She, colorized.

Legend Films release:[19]

  • Picture Format: 1.33:1 (1080p 24fps) [AVC MPEG-4]
  • Soundtrack(s): English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Dual Mono)
  • Extras (Blu-ray):
    • Things to Come (1936) in colorized and black & white versions
    • Commentary by Ray Harryhausen and Mark Vaz on She
    • Interviews with Ray Harryhausen [She (1080i; 4:32)] [Things to Come (1080i; 3:47)]
    • Colorization Process with Ray Harryhausen [She (1080i; 8:58)] [Things to Come (1080i; 8:51)]
  • Extras (DVD):

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Harryhausen, Ray; Vaz, Mark. She DVD, Legend Films, 2006, audio commentary. ISBN 978-1-60673-060-7
  2. ^ Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p85
  3. ^ Wilson, John (2005). The Official Razzie Movie Guide: Enjoying the Best of Hollywood's Worst. Grand Central Publishing. ISBN 0-446-69334-0.
  4. ^ "The Wonderful World of WALT: Walt Disney and the Villain | Disney Insider". Retrieved May 4, 2014.
  5. ^ "Disney Villains: Queen". Archived from the original on February 27, 2011. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
  6. ^ "D23′s Dateline Disney: 1935 (Evil Queen) « Disney D23". December 10, 2012. Archived from the original on December 16, 2012. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  7. ^ Hall, C. (Jul 24, 1932). "NOTES FROM HOLLYWOOD'S STUDIOS". New York Times. ProQuest 99559141.
  8. ^ "R.-K.-O. plans "family" films". Wall Street Journal. Jul 14, 1934. ProQuest 131173858.
  9. ^ "SCREEN NOTES". New York Times. Jan 11, 1935. ProQuest 101609935.
  10. ^ "Helen gahagan adds films to A busy career". The Washington Post. Jun 30, 1935. ProQuest 150682898.
  11. ^ Shaffer, G. (Apr 11, 1935). "Penny matching piles up $3,000 charity fund". Chicago Daily Tribune. ProQuest 181569593.
  12. ^ Greene, Graham (25 October 1935). "Joan of Arc/Turn of the Tide/Top Hat/She". The Spectator. Retrieved 10 October 2018. (reprinted in: Taylor, John Russell, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome. p. 32. ISBN 0192812866.)
  13. ^ "Empire of the Imagination: Rediscovering She (1935) by matthew c. hoffman". Screen Deco. 2012-05-19. Retrieved 2020-07-24.
  14. ^ Harper, Marla (August 27, 1989). "'She' (NR)". Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-03-07.
  15. ^ "Comic-Con 2006 :: Programming for Friday, July 21". Archived from the original on 2007-02-24. Retrieved 2007-03-07.
  16. ^ DVDCompare Retrieved: 7 May 2012
  17. ^ Monster Kid Classic Horror Forum Retrieved: 7 May 2012
  18. ^ Nitrateville classic film forum Retrieved: 7 May 2012
  19. ^ "The Ray Harryhausen Double Feature Blu-ray".

External linksEdit