She, H. Rider Haggard's fanciful novel about the immortal queen of a lost tribe, has been filmed ten times to date, with seven versions emerging between the years 1910 and 1930. Fox's 1917 adaptation of She would have been ideally suited to the talents of the studio's foremost "vamp," Theda Bara. But Bara was otherwise occupied, obliging Valeska Surratt to step into the role of Ayesha, aka She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed. This adaptation was far from faithful to the original novel, save for the centuries-lasting relationship between Ayesha and her oft-reincarnated true love (here played by William B. Davidson) and the famous finale, in which "She" steps into the Flame of Immortality, only to shrivel into ashes before the hero's astonished eyes. Critics were cool to Valeska Surratt's interpretation of the title role, but this was hardly surprising, since few of the actresses who have played she -- Betty Blythe, Helen Gahagan, Ursula Andress -- have been critical favorites. Unfortunately, the 1917 She apparently no longer exists.
by Hal Erickson synopsis