Thursday, June 11, 2020

Lost Horizon!


Lost Horizon was supposed to be Columbia Pictures' big budget Oscar contender in 1973. The lavish musical was supposed to feature vibrant dance sequences that would dazzle audiences who would flock to hear music written by Burt Bacharach. The centerpiece of the film was supposed to be the exciting "Fertility Dance" sequence, which would mesmerize filmgoers with its brilliance. 



Except... At the premiere, audiences snoozed through the overlong setup, waiting nearly 40 minutes for the first song in this "musical". As for that "Fertility Dance" sequence? It succeeded in attracting unwelcome laughs. This overlong turkey was destined for infamy.

Studio chiefs frantically assessed the damage- critics and viewers felt the movie was too long and laughed in all the wrong places. This $12 Million blockbuster was quickly becoming a disaster. Columbia quickly ordered 20 minutes cut from the film, including the "Fertility Dance" which unintentionally cracked up audiences. It didn't help; the film only grossed $2 Million, effectively killing off the musical genre for many years.

The original negatives destroyed, the film only lived on in its edited format. The film's disastrous reception never warranted any special treatment and bad film aficionados could only imagine how bad the edited scenes must have been. Until 2010, when Columbia Pictures restored the film to its original length after an extensive restoration. The film was finally released in its original splendor on DVD and Blu-Ray, almost as though it were a cherished classic. 

Though the revived print looks great, it is easy to see why audiences laughed at the overwrought dance sequences and creaky 70's soundtrack. In the end, it is astounding to ponder how many people thought this film was a good idea. However, every movie- even Lost Horizon and Skidoo- deserves to be preserved. Future generations of moviegoers deserve unintended laughs too.