Combustible Celluloid
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With: Debra Paget, Paul Hubschmid, Walter Reyer, Claus Holm, ValŽry Inkijinoff, Sabine Bethmann, RenŽ Deltgen
Written by: Werner Jšrg Lźddecke, based on a novel by Thea von Harbou
Directed by: Fritz Lang
MPAA Rating: NR
Language: English/German, with English subtitles
Running Time: 100
Date: 10/16/2001

The Tiger of Eschnapur (1959)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Thieves in the Temple

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Fritz Lang's penultimate "Indian Epic," is a perfect bookend to his Dr. Mabuse series. Known individually as The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb, these films were once the most difficult to see of Lang's films (they were once distilled into a single 90 minute film), and now here they are in unbelievably gorgeous digital restorations with dazzling Technicolor and clear sound on both German and English language soundtracks.

These stories are as well known to the German public as the Dr. Mabuse tales: a German architect (Paul Hubschmid) arrives in Eschnapur to help build schools and hospitals for a wealthy Maharaja (Walter Reyer). But unfortunately for him he falls in love with a beautiful temple dancer (Debra Paget) that the Maharaja had intended to marry. And now the Maharaja's brother secretly plans to take over the throne.

In between all this, we have chases, attacks, battles, escapes, a sexy dance and a few kisses. It's a clear precursor to the Indiana Jones series, though definitely not as fast-paced. Yet it's perhaps Lang's most open-aired use of color, and wonderful, late-period entertainment. San Francisco's Fantoma Films has released the pair on DVD.

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