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Campbell Playhouse: Lost Horizon - December 3, 1939

Narrated by: Orson Welles
Length: 51 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Orson Welles both starred in and directed The Campbell Playhouse, a radio drama (1938-40) produced by Welles and John Houseman. The episodes include adaptions of classic novels and plays as well as radio versions of the era's popular films.

©2010 ABN (P)2010 ABN

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable Dramatization from 1939

I found this audio adaptation of Lost Horizon, directed and narrated by Orson Wells in 1939, for just 48 cents on Audible. Sound quality, as one might expect of a program originally performed eighty years ago, is weak, but the story captures the heart of James Hilton’s classic novel of a man who’s been wounded in his heart by the horrors of war finding peace in a lamasery in Tibet.

The story is built around a small mystery. Conway and four other people survive a plane wreck and find refuge in a hidden valley called Shangri-La. At first they are desperate to get back to civilization as they know it, but soon the beauty and peace of the place calls to Conway while two of his companions find other reasons to wish to stay (missionary zeal and a gold mine respectively). But the fourth companion remains desperate to leave and convinces Conway to help him and a young woman escape. Their flight exposes the terrible secret of Shangri-La—that people age more slowly there than elsewhere in the world—brings a bitter end to the young lovers when they depart.

From the modern perspective, this is a very dated work that shows the prejudices of the 1930s. Shangri-La, this place of perfect peace and wisdom, is presided over by an ancient French monk—not a Tibetan. And that monk wants Conway (another westerner) to replace him when he finally dies. But despite this hangover in sensibilities from an earlier age, the dream of Shangri-La still plays powerfully with the modern audience—that there is a place in the world where the everyday struggles and anxieties of life do not penetrate. There is a place in the world where it is possible to enjoy peace.

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    5 out of 5 stars

Listen in a silent room. It's worth it.

It's true you couldn't listen to this while driving or doing other things. Unfortunately, we have lost the joy of just doing one good thing at a time. This is an excellent production for the technology of the time. I like that it was not "cleaned up" and therefore retains the feel of the original broadcast. The acting is excellent. The price is VERY reasonable. A delightful way to spend an hour.

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Have to be in a quiet place

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Good story, historically very cool, but very difficult to listen to due to the poor audio quality.