SHE. (1965) A HAMMER FILM PRODUCTION DIRECTED BY ROBERT DAY AND BASED ON THE 1887 NOVEL BY H. RIDER HAGGARD.
STARRING BOND GIRL URSULA ANDRESS, PETER CUSHING, JOHN RICHARDSON, BERNARD CRIBBINS, ANDRE MORELL, ROSENDA MONTEROS AND CHRISTOPHER LEE.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
Hammer was going crazy at one point for the fem-dom ‘dominant female’ films, films like this one and THE VENGEANCE OF SHE, PREHISTORIC WOMEN, THE VIKING QUEEN and even BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB.
I’ve never been mad about these ones, with the exception of the superb BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB, which I’m only including here because Valerie Leon comes across as quite dominant in her dual portrayal of Margaret Fuchs and the Egyptian Queen Tera, and which isn’t really part of the series.
I much prefer the Hammer films in which the male is dominant, for example, the Dracula films starring Christopher Lee. I was quite uncomfortable watching Christopher Lee in SHE grovelling around at Ursula Andress’s feet, referring to her as She Who Must Be Obeyed and scarcely daring to lift his eyes to her for fear of offending her and incurring her all-encompassing wrath.
Anyway, the film. Guy meets a girl in a bar on foreign shores, then the very next day he’s on a mad quest across the desert with his ex-army chums to rediscover an ancient lost city and get with another, even hotter girl. That’s about the gist of it, but let’s examine the particulars, shall we?
The guy is the blonde, handsome Leo Vincey, played by a pre-ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. John Richardson, before he grew so much facial hair he was virtually unrecognisable as himself.
The foreign shores are Palestine’s, immediately after the first world war, and the first hot girl, the one from the bar, is a dusky beauty called Ustane, who is used as a decoy initially, but who falls hard and heavy for ‘her Leo’ from the off.
The chums are Peter Cushing as Professor Holly and Bernard Cribbins as Job, orderly/batman to his two commissioned gentlemen, Holly and Vincey, who are free to pursue this wild goose chase now that the war is over.
The ancient lost city is Kuma, in a previously unexplored region of North-East Africa. It is ruled by the stunningly beautiful immortal queen and high priestess Ayesha, aka She Who Waits or She Who Must Be Obeyed. What exactly is she waiting for? Well, therein hangs a tale…
Several thousand years ago, this jealous beauty murdered her lover, Kallikrates, for betraying her with another woman. All these years, she’s waited for Kallikrates to return to her, and now, with the arrival in her kingdom of Leo, Kallikrates’ exact double, she thinks her years of waiting have come to an end.
But the beautiful Ayesha is a cruel and vengeful queen, who by her own admission, rules through fear and terror. Her treatment of the black slaves in her kingdom (very non-politically correct; you couldn’t do it nowadays) is appalling.
There’s an absolutely horrific scene in which fifteen innocent young black males are forced to a terrible death just so that Ayesha can be seen to be a tough ruler whom none dare disobey. She’s a proper little madam, is what she is.
Christopher Lee as her gimpy high priest Billali would be doing her more of a service by putting her over his knee for a blistering spanking, rather than by grovelling at her feet in the dust wearing ridiculously unflattering headgear while saying yes ma’am no ma’am on repeat till the cows come home.
Anyway, will Ayesha succeed in getting Leo to walk through the flame of immortality with her, to rule serenely by her side forever, or will her jealous and diva-like behaviour only result in pushing Kallikrates away from her for another several millenia? Knowing Ayesha’s capricious nature, nothing is guaranteed…
I love Andre Morell (Hammer’s THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES) as Ustane’s lovely Pops, Haumeid, who rules the army of Ayesha’s slaves, the Amahagger, and also Bernard Cribbins as Job, the gentlemens’ gentleman.
He’d be the kind of devoted orderly/valet (like Reginald Jeeves) who would die of shame if either of his gentlemen went out of an evening incorrectly dressed. That would reflect on him, it would, him and his poor valeting, and he’d rather die than be known as a poor valet.
You know who could really use some good valeting? Poor Billali (who at the end makes an ill-starred grab for the power previously denied him) and his dreadful beehive head-dress. We all know how Jeeves dealt with any ill-advised novelty items of costume or headgear favoured by his master, Bertie Wooster. Job, be a darling and see what you can do, will you…?
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books.