The Indian Tomb (1959)

Genres - Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Costume Adventure, Escape Film, Jungle Film, Romantic Adventure  |   Run Time - 102 min.  |   Countries - Germany , France , Italy   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Tom Wiener

The concluding installment of Fritz Lang's Indian epic, which began with Der Tiger von Eschnapur, plays out the story lines set up in the first installment, while giving more screen time to two characters barely seen in chapter one. As this film opens, the German architect Harald (Paul Hubschmid) and his lover, the temple dancer Seetha (Debra Paget), are on the run from Chandra, the evil maharajah (Walther Reyer) who desires her, while political intrigue bubbles up and boils over in his kingdom. The arrival in Eschnapur late in the first installment of Harald's sister Irene (Sabine Bethmann) and her husband Walter (Claus Holm), who is also Harald's business partner, allows for the two films' theme, the tension between Europeans and Indians, to continue to percolate. Walter and Irene are unaware that Harald is in jeopardy for stealing Seetha from Chandra, but Walter is appropriately appalled when the maharajah orders him to design a tomb for Seetha, his future maharani, who will occupy it while she is still alive, as payment for her treachery. Much of the action in this installment takes place in a warren of caves beneath Chandra's palace; a band of quarantined lepers, a cache of dynamite, and man-eating crocodiles all have parts to play. Lang's eye for visual detail is the trump card here, though there are other pleasures, including Paget's dance to ward off a huge python-she's wearing a costume that definitely pushes the envelope on 1950s movie dress codes. If Chandra's megalomania seems a throwback to two of Lang's most famous characters, Rotwang the mad scientist of Metropolis and Dr. Mabuse, it's actually a precursor. Lang and his second wife, Thea von Harbou, had planned to make this film very early in his career until his producer stole away the project for himself.