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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Mistress Of Atlantis (1932)

Starring Brigitte Helm, John Stuart, Tela Tchai, Gustav Diessl, Gibb McLaughlin
Directed by G.W. Pabst
(actor & director credits courtesy

Two French Legionnaires are captured in the Sahara desert and taken to underground catacombs housing the lost city of Atlantis, which is ruled by a cruel but beautiful queen.

Commencing with the unique revelation that the lost city of Atlantis may not have been located on a sea island, but in the desert, this showcase for Helm features excellent photography and convincing desert landscapes, but those expecting any breathtaking visuals of Atlantis or fantastic technology may well be disappointed.  The catacomb sets, while they serve the story and the characters, are surprisingly limited and nondescript. There's also not a lot for Helm to do besides look beautiful and issue cruel orders, but she's lovingly photographed and the sequence in which she plays chess with Stuart for his freedom is well designed and acted to illustrate the power she wields over him.  However, I found the film as a whole to be more dreary than striking, although thankfully the giant-mustached McLaughlin provides a badly needed colorful supporting character to liven things up a bit.  I think despite its faults, the picture still is worthwhile for its imagery, which culminates in a stunning pairing of Helm standing alongside a giant bust of her face which is not to be missed.

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