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Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon title card

Year - 1937
Studio - Columbia
Stars - Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, Everett Edward Horton, John Howard, Thomas Mitchell, Margo, Isabel Jewell, Sam Jaffe, H. B. Warner
Director - Frank Capra
Writing Credits - James Hilton (novel), Robert Riskin (screenplay)
Music - Dimitri Tiomkin

Synopsis

British diplomat Robert Conway (Ronald Colman) and a small group of civilians escape on a plane from war-torn China, only to find that they are captives of a rogue Chinese pilot.

After a long flight, they crash land in an unexplored, snow covered area of the Himalayas, and all but the pilot survive. They are rescued by a group of people headed by Chang (H.B. Warner), who lead them through the freezing snow to the idyllic Shangra-La. Its climate is temperate, being sheltered by mountains on all sides. Chang advises them that there is no communication with, or means to transport the party to, the outside world.

Lost Horizon poster

When the visitors confront Chang about their "captive" situation, he answers that the High Lama wishes to see them. He (Sam Jaffe) turns out to be the founder of Shangra-La, and is over 200 years old. He explains that the group was brought there at the suggestion of Sondra Bizet (Jane Wyatt), a beautiful woman, familiar with Conway's writings, who he has already observed and admired there.

Eventually Conway meets and is enchanted by Sondra. They fall in love, and Conway begins to question whether he wants to ever leave. While most of his colleagues are arriving at the same conclusion and establishing useful roles for themselves there, his brother George (John Howard) is hysterically desperate to get away.

On his death bed, the High Lama announces to Conway that he wishes to bequeath the spiritual leadership of Shangra-La to him.

Meanwhile, George succeeds in recruiting outside porters to help him leave, and convinces a lovely girl, Maria (Margo), who has never adjusted to Shangra-La, to accompany him. Robert, in a moment of self-doubt, agrees to go with them.

As they struggle through the blizzard conditions, an avalanche buries their team of porters. Maria dies from exposure, and her features change to an old woman - she was actually 88 years old. George perishes as well.

Robert Conway struggles on, lost and nearly frozen. He is found, unconscious, by Chinese villagers and his discovery is announced in the world press. But, despite attempts by the British to bring him home, he spends months frantically trying to find his way back to Shangra-La La, ultimately achieving his quest.

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