Major Crespin (H.B. Warner), his wife Lucilla (Alice Joyce), and their
friend Dr Traherne (Ralph Forbes), who will eventually turn out to be her
secret lover, crashland somewhere in the Himalayas, and as fate has it,
there just happens to be a small and secretive kingdom nearby. Initially,
our three heroes are welcomed with open arms by its leader, the Raja
(George Arliss), but it soon becomes clear that he wants to keep them as
hostages, actually, because three of his brothers, religious fanatics, are
to be executed in British-ruled India. Now the Raja is no fool to believe
he could ever exchange his hostages for his brothers, he just figures
should his brothers be killed, the three of them would make great
sacrifices for his Green Goddess. And Major Crespin's insistance on
British superiority over the primitive tribes just like the Raja's only
encourages him to go through with his plan. However, the Raja has a soft
spot for Lucilla, and promises to leave her alive should she become his
wife - but she refuses.
The Raja has a British butler though, the
cutthroat Watkins (Ivan F.Simpson), and our heroes figure they can bribe
him into radioing out an emergency message. He deceives them though, so
Crespin and Taherne throw him off a balcony to his death, then Crespin
himeself tries to radio for help but is shot dead by the Raja.
again tries to get Lucilla to marry him and threatens to kill Taherne
otherwise. This time Lucilla gives in to his demands, but the Raja knows
it was not genuine and now prepares to sacrifice both her and taherne -
When British bomber planes arrive and threaten the Raja to bomb his
kingdom to Kingdom Come should he not abandon his prisoners ... to which
he meekly agrees.
An early adventure talkie that seems to have
jumped straight out of the pulps: There's an exotic Kingdom, an evil
Oriental, an insistence on Western superiority rather typical for its
time, but there are also planes, bomberplanes, the Himalayas and of course
a love story. All of this doesn't add up to too good a movie: Basically,
the whole piece is a bit too dialogue heavy to really work (a fate which
it shares with many early talkies), the story buildup is a bit on the weak
side, the racist undercurrents are (at least from today's point of view),
several actors have not yet really let go of their exaggerated silent film
mannerisms, George Arliss looks somewhat out of place as an Oriental, and
the finale, despite the appearance of a fleet of bomber planes, is a bit
of a letdown.
On the plus side, several of the sets look quite
impressive, but sets alone can't save films, now can they?