Three and a Half Tombs: Part Three
Sound Films During the Third Reich (1938-39)

The Second Tomb

In 1938, the second film based on von Harbou’s novel was released, this time in black and white with sound. The director was Richard Eichberg, who had a long career as an actor and director in both silent and sound films in Germany. Sources suggest that he was a director who produced films that audiences adored and critics hated.

Such would seem to be the case here.


Rumored to be one of the most expensive films produced under the Nazis before the Second World War, the film again used the two-part, serial format, but this film involved a lot of location photography in India. Reportedly, the film was very popular on its release (and it supposedly has enjoyed some more recent popularity when revived on German television), but after completing the film, Eichberg emigrated to Switzerland, and from there to the United States. His reasons for leaving Germany are not clear. He worked in New York as a stage director for a while, but without achieving great success. He returned to Germany after the war.


The film's opening titles acknowledge that the film is based on von Harbou’s novel, but otherwise, she does not seem to have been involved in the film. The screenwriting credits are shared by Arthur Pohl, Hans Klaehr, and Richard Eichberg. The essential situation is retained (a prince hires a European architect to build a tomb for his unfaithful wife), but otherwise, the film tells a different story.
​​

​Richard Eichberg in his salad days as an actor before the First World War.
So why was von Harbou apparently not involved in the making of this film? We can only speculate, but possible reasons are not hard to find. Her marriage to Fritz Lang had ended in divorce in 1933 after he discovered her affair with the Indian student and journalist Ayi Tendulkar. After Fritz’s departure for Hollywood, von Harbou and Tendulkar had married in a Hindu ceremony, something that the Nazis would not officially recognize. He was the love of her life, and their relationship would have been ongoing while the Tomb remake would have been in development. Given the Nazi’s prohibition of miscegenation, she was not eager to call attention to her relationship with Tendulkar; becoming involved in a film about India—one that was going to be partially shot in India—was probably the last thing she wanted to do at that time.

But her relationship with Tendulkar was probably not her only concern. Fritz Lang’s career in Germany had been inextricably linked to hers—she wrote every one of his films between 1920 and 1933—but her career had not been so linked to his. In between working for Lang, she wrote films for many other directors, and by the mid ‘30s, she had established herself as a major screenwriting presence in her own right. Then, Lang was still trying to gain his footing in Hollywood. Remaking something she had written with Lang may might have been very distasteful for her at this point in her career. She didn’t want to give him the publicity, and she didn’t need it. Besides, she’d already adapted her own novel once—why did she need to do it again?


Here's to you, Mrs. Robinson!  Ayi Tendulkar and Thea von Harbou, ca. 1935.
And she had moved on in other ways, too. Through her association with Tendulkar and the other Indian graduate students in Berlin, von Harbou had learned much about the real India. Based on her associations with those students, she eventually wrote another novel set in India, Blooming Lotus (Aufblühender Lotos), but this one is a realistic portrait of the injustices of the British Raj. Going back to the fantasy India of The Indian Tomb was probably not something that she wanted to do at that time.

Without von Harbou’s guidance, the screenplay for Eichberg’s film took the story in a different direction by addressing two significant story omissions from both the novel and silent film. First, we never see the great love that the prince supposedly had for his bride, and second, we never really understand why she turned away from the prince to become involved with another man. In back-filling that part of the story, Eichberg’s film focuses primarily on their tragic love story, and the first half of Eichberg’s film becomes a kind of prequel to the novel and the first film—heck, the architect doesn’t even get to India until the second part of the film!


Even so, the story of the princess and her lover is only one of several new story lines, sprawling over several plot arcs and different film genres, including movie musicals, romantic comedies, farce, melodrama, and even travelogues (a lot of location footage had to be included to justify the expense of shooting on location).


​The cover of von Harbou's all but forgotten 1941 novel set in pre-World War II India.
The comic element is supplied by two new characters: Emil Sperling (Theo Lingen) and his ditzy wife Lotte (Gisela Schlüter), and if Theo Lingen doesn’t look familiar, he should. He actually appeared in more than 230 films between 1929 and 1978, and directed 21 films between 1936 and 1960. Brecht had him play Macheath in The Threepenny Opera, and Lang used him in M and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. He was Jewish, but he was so popular as an actor that Goebbels granted him a special dispensation so he could keep working. In 1944, though, he moved to Vienna, where he actually aided the Allied invasion of Austria. After the war, his career continued, and in his later years, he also appeared on German television—at one point, as a presenter of Laurel and Hardy comedies! His last film was 1978’s Lady Dracula.

The leading women are given the honor of having their names first in the credits. The first is Kitty Jantzen, who plays the plucky fiance of the architect (now named Peter Fürbringer, played by Hans Stüwe). She had done a few other films, but after this one, she married Eichberg and retired from acting.


​Theo Lingen
The other is “La Jana,” who plays the role of the princess. Born Henriette “Henny” Hiebel, she was a highly successful nightclub dancer; some sources report that she was also one of the many mistresses of Joseph Goebbels. Two years after making this film, she died of pneumonia.

Perhaps if her costumes had covered a bit more . . .


Chandra, the maharajah, is played by the terribly good-looking Fritz van Dongen, and Ramigani (Alexander Golling) is the prince’s cousin this time. He has no paranormal powers, but his dark, brooding appearance early on gives away that he is going to play the role of a villain in this version. Retained from the film is the character of Myrrha (Rosa Jung), who again is cast as the princess’s servant.






Part One: The Tiger of Eschnapur (Das Tiger von Eschnapur)

Whuff! As "La Jana," she set a lot of German men's hearts a-flutter. As Hennie Hiebel, not so much.
The film opens on a jungle bungalow, where we meet three ne’er-do-wells. The one we care about is Sascha Demidoff (Gustav Diesel)—he is the character who corresponds to MacAllan in the silent film. His two accomplices are the Borodin brothers, Fjedor (also called “Peter” and played by Hans Zesch-Ballot) and Mischa (Harry Frank). Fjedor/Peter is clearly the more adventurous of the two brothers and the one who is most suspicious of Sascha.

(Interesting that these villainous characters have all been given Russian-sounding names; Russia and Germany were not on good terms at the time, so these names are hardly accidental.)

Conversation reveals that Sascha intends to separate from the two Borodins and go on to Eschnapur for an undisclosed reason. 

Sascha (on the left) quarrels with the two Borodin brothers.
On the wall of the bungalow Sascha has posted the cover of The Illustrated London News, which features a full-page head shot of the maharani of Eschnapur, and one of the Borodins comments that they remember her from the Ritz Hotel in Paris, where Sascha had romanced her while the Borodins had designs on her diamonds. They seem to think that he is on his way to Eschnapur now to try to charm the maharani out of her jewels. When Sascha refuses to take them with him, they quarrel. Sascha shoots and kills Mischa, but Fjedor escapes into the jungle.


That’s the beginning of the first plot arc.

At the palace, the prince is preparing to lead a hunting party to find a tiger that recently killed a child from the village.

 
​Sascha's pin-up girl.
We see the maharani, Sitha (La Jana), being very lovey-dovey with the prince before he goes off on the hunt. Unfortunately, we also see that Ramigani is interested in Sitha, too, so we have a four-sided triangle: Prince Chandra, Ramigani, and Sasha Demidoff all have the hots for the princess.

That’s the beginning of the second plot arc.


The hunting party departs, and there is much use of location photography—in fact, the film sort of turns into a travelogue for a while. A whole circus parade of horses and elephants follows, and we see that Sascha Demidof is watching all of this from a distance.


Later, the tiger is captured, and Demidof, calling himself Count Sartho, shows up in the prince’s camp, where he insinuates himself into the prince’s hunting party.


​The next day, the hunting party returns, and Sitha and Myrrha make the unpleasant discovery that Sascha (whom Myrrha identifies as “the foreign sahib from Bombay”) has somehow joined the party. Privately Sitha tells Myrrha, “You know how much I love him. He can’t see me again. I need to forget him.” The implication is that Sascha is Sitha’s old flame, someone she knew before she met the prince.

Sitha and Chandra (the prince) enjoying a nice moment before he goes off to the hunt. This scene is a major innovation because the previous film never showed the Rajah having any feelings for his wife until she was a corpse.
Later, Sascha (a guest of the prince) sneaks into Sitha’s quarters, where he tells her that he has followed her halfway around the world, only to find her again in Bombay, where she had become—apparently to his surprise—the maharani of Eschnapur. She replies that “Sadhu” (another raja, someone we will meet in the second part of the film) wanted her to be one of his wives. “Chandra chose me out of the lot, and that’s how I became the maharani.” Sitha tells Sascha to leave, but the scene ends in a clinch, so we know he’s sticking around.

The next day, Ramigani is visiting a major construction site, where the workers seem to be having some problems. They seem to want to send for some foreign architects to help them.


Sascha and Sitha. Notice how much darker this scene is than the scene with Sitha and Chandra. 
Now, we dissolve and we are in Fürbringer’s studio, presumably in Berlin. Fürbringer’s assistant, Emil Sperling (Theo Lingen), enters with a telegram saying that the maharajah has approved the plans for the apartments, hospitals, and canals—in other words, a whole city. (No word of a tomb yet.) However, Fürbringer is not sure he wants the commission after all because it will take him away from his regular work and tie him up for years. However, Emil volunteers to be his liason, to go to India to sign the contracts and act in his place.

We follow a travel montage—presumably Emil en route—and then we are in the palace, where a servant tells Ramigani that a “Peter” Borodin has asked for an audience with the maharajah. However, he's busy, so Ramigani sees Peter instead. Peter tells Ramigani that the maharajah's guest Count Sartho is a phony who killed Peter’s brother and wants to steal the maharajah’s wife. Ramigani says he wants proof before he talks to his cousin.


​Emil (on the left) explains to Lotte, Irene, and Peter how he will to to India as Peter's representative and sign the contracts.
Ramigani then confronts Sitha. “You have beautiful eyes,” he tells her, “but they lie.” He tries to touch her arm, but she pushes him away. Mistake! “There’s a reason I can’t touch you. Only Sascha Demidoff has the right to do so.” She denies this, but he goes on,

I know all about it! Your death is awaiting you. Nobody will be able to help you, except for me. The kingdom of the maharajah will end. The rajahs are against him, the friend of the Europeans. I will be the new king of Bengal!


That is the beginning of the third plot arc.


And there are more arcs to come.


Ramigani then reveals Peter Borodin’s accusations to Chandra. To test the truth of what Borodin has said, Chandra throws a party where he brings together Sascha Demodoff, Peter Borodin, and Sitha. They all behave guiltily, as if they are all hiding something.


Ramigani tells Sitha that she has lying eyes.
Later, Sascha is in Sitha’s room and they decide they need to make themselves scarce. But Chandra and Ramigani break in, and Sascha jumps over the balcony and into the lake, where he manages to swim away from the obligatory crocodiles. However, on the lake’s shore, Sascha is captured and later thrown into the tiger pen. Ramigani orders a tiger to be released and walks away. However, Sascha manages to kill the tiger, and Sitha and Myrrha, attracted by the noise, manage to free him from the pit, and they all take off for parts unknown.

What follows is a montage of Chandra and Ramigani pursuing Sitha around the world. The montage and the search end in Berlin, where Ramigani and Chandra learn that Sitha and Sascha are sharing an apartment. 


Sascha in the tiiger pit prepares to defend himself.
Now, somewhat out of the blue, Irene Traven (Fürbringer’s fiance) barges into the prince’s hotel room. She pretends to be a journalist who needs to interview the prince, and she asks the purpose of the prince’s trip to Europe. The prince is not forthcoming, so she says she thinks he has come to meet with the famous architect Peter Fürbringer. The prince decides to play along, preferring not to reveal his real purpose is to kidnap his wife and take her back to Eschnapur and kill her. Irene then invites the prince to a fancy party being held that night in, we presume, the hotel ballroom.

Later, at the party, Fürbringer and Irene meet with the prince, who does not reveal the little charade Irene played earlier in the day. Later still, Irene is alone with the prince and admits that she had been playing him earlier for the sake of her fiance. The prince says he is not angry, and we can see a bit of electricity begin to crackle between them. (Yes, another plot arc is beginning!) 



The prince points out that if her fiance accepts the commission, he will be away from her for a long time, and she says she understands, but she thinks he is the best man for the job. Chandra admires her loyalty and invites her to come along to India and be his guest in the palace for the duration of the commission.

Irene tries to convince the prince she is a reporter.
Next day, Chandra sends a large floral arrangement to Irene’s room.

Meanwhile, Peter and Emil are waiting for the prince to show up in his office for a meeting. Ditzy Lotte (Emil’s wife) bubbles in and says that Peter needn’t worry because Irene has everything under control. She spills the beans about how Irene met the prince the previous day and talked him into coming to the previous night’s party. (This is the stuff of comedy, not melodrama.) Peter is not pleased and goes to Irene’s room for a confrontation, which leads to a nasty quarrel, and Peter exits and slams the door after him.

Good grief! Is this The Indian Tomb or Much Ado About Nothing?

Peter is jealous of the prince's attentions to his fiance.
We move ahead now to that night at the Crystal Palace, a fancy nightclub where the finale of the first film will be played out.  The prince is there with Irene, not Peter, who is sulking in his room in a jealous snit. Emil and his wife are also present.  The stage is then cleared for “Madame Indira,” as Sitha is calling herself now, to do her big dance number. Her performance is a triumph, and the management seems to want to sign her to a long-term contract.

But backstage, Demidoff just misses being killed by a flying dagger—an Indian dagger. He goes to Sitha’s dressing room and tells her to sign nothing and to pack because the prince’s men are near. She is tired of running, but Ramigani enters the room, so she knows that the jig is up. Meanwhile, onstage, jugglers are throwing around flaming torches. To defend himself from the prince’s men, Sascha tosses one of the torches and accidentally sets the place on fire. There is pandemonium and spectacular fire effects, and Irene starts running around like an idiot. Emil has the presence of mind to call Fürbringer to warn him Irene is in danger.


Finale of La Jana's big production number in the nightclub.
Meanwhile, the prince’s men have grabbed Sitha and stuffed her into a car, but just as it’s pulling away from the nightclub, Sascha jumps onto the running board. Eventually, Sascha overcomes the driver and the guard, tosses them out of the car, and then drives off into the darkness with Sitha. And while that is going on, Chandra and Peter Fürbringer rescue Irene from the burning nightclub. The prince then asks if Fürbringer will come to India. Fürbringer says yes.

Nothing like a burning nightclub to make an architect want to build something!




Part Two (Das indische Grabmal):


In the burning nightclub, the prince (right) rescues Irene and hands her to Peter, who is still jealous of the prince's attentions to his fiance.
The second part of the film begins with a synopsis that tells us Peter is now in Eschnapur, where he is to build a tomb of some sort. That’s news to us, but the camera shows that Peter is on the job site now, and there is discussion in progress about the water from a waterfall. The water must be diverted to avoid flooding the foundations of the palace, and the Indian engineers are concerned about where the water will go instead.

We see now that the maharajah is bringing Irene to India by the slow route and kind of romancing her along the way. The reason (which she does not know) is that the maharajah is actually searching for Sitha and Demidoff. Word comes that they are in Bombay, so off they go.


Later, Irene and the prince are at the Hotel Taj Mahal, where another nightclub scene is in progress with a dance floor full of tuxedoed dancers. Irene goes to powder her nose, and Ramigani takes the opportunity to tell the prince that Sitha is dancing nearby under the name of “Fatima."

Chandra is sweet-talking the architect's fiance as they fly back to India. What's going on here?
Meanwhile, on her way back from the powder room, Irene is stopped by Sascha, who boldly introduces himself. Sascha reminds Irene of “Indira” the dancer, who Irene thought had been killed in the fire at the Crystal Palace. He says no and begs Irene to meet them at the Bengali-Bar, where she is performing. Irene then returns to the dance floor, where she dances briefly with the prince, but she seems a little uncomfortable with all of the attention she is receiving from the prince (she is engaged to Peter Fürbringer after all), so she announces she will retire early before the trip to Eschnapur planned for the next day.

However, a few minutes later, Ramigani sees Irene in the lobby, where she climbs into a taxi. At the Bengali-Bar, Sitha is pretty down in the dumps. She’s tired of running, but it’s showtime, and La Jana does another big dance number. Sascha sees Irene enter the club and is about to talk to Irene in private when he is intercepted by Ramigani’s ruffians, but once again, he slips away from them. Ramigani escorts Irene back to the hotel and makes clear that she is meddling in matters that do not concern her.


Back in Eschnapur, the Europeans are all reunited, although things between Irene and Peter continue to be a bit frosty.


On her way back from the powder room, Irene is confronted by an anxious Sascha.
Ramigani goes to visit Sitha in her gilded cage in his palace. She asks about Sascha, but Ramigani says she will never see him again. He tells her that they are building her tomb now, and from her window, she can see it going up stone by stone. And he makes clear that she will be put in there alive. However, once again he tells her that he loves her and can save her from this fate, but she rejects him again.

Sascha, who somehow managed to evade the prince's men at the nightclub, is now calling himself “Kurzov,” and he shows up at Peter’s work camp, where he advertises himself as an engineer. Peter, who has become frustrated with the Indian engineers provided by the prince, hires him on the spot.


Ramigani shows Sitha her tomb under construction.
Now we get a scene with Ramigani stirring up trouble with the other nobles, who are concerned that the Europeans seem to be taking over. However, Ramigani has a plan to overthrow his cousin Chandra and seize power for himself—yet another plot arc. The plan involves a boorish noble named Sadhu and . . . Sitha.

At the worksite, Emil has befriended (?) an elephant named Hannibal. We see a montage of Indian workers, including working elephants. Emil also has a chimpanzee for a helper, Johnny. The whole thing has turned into a Tarzan movie!


The prince then arrives at Peter’s jobsite office to check on the progress of things, and he brings Irene along. While Peter and the maharajah talk, Irene sneaks out to have a few words in private with “Kurzov,” whom she has recognized as Sascha. He tells Irene that Sitha (Indira/Fatima) is being held a prisoner in Ramigani’s palace. Sascha declares his love for Sitha and begs Irene’s help.


Ramigani stirs up trouble with the other nobles.
Later at Sadhu’s palace, Ramigani is trying to involve Sadhu in the plot to overthrow Chandra, but Sadhu is playing hard to get. “Kill him yourself,” he tells Ramigani. Ramigani tries to pour a little fuel on the fire by complaining about Chandra is treating a European woman has if she were a maharani. Furthermore, he plans to entomb Sitha alive. Sadhu doesn’t like that. “Not while Sadhu is alive!” he says. (It’s not clear here, but if you think back to the first movie, Sitha explained to Sascha that back in Bombay, Sadhu had try to integrate her into his harem and Chandra had saved her from that fate by marrying her. In other words, Sadhu still has the hots for Sitha and a grudge to bear against Chandra. Yet another plot arc!) Ramigani then tells Sadhu that if he stands with Ramigani against Chandra, Sitha will be his. On that basis, Sadhu agrees to participate in Ramigani’s plan.  

Sadhu, on the right, is not eager to become involved in Ramigani's plot agaianst Chandra.
Sitha’s serving woman Myrrha (back again from the previous film) brings Irene to meet with Sitha so she can plead her case. In Sitha’s quarters, she professes her love for Sascha and asks Irene to tell the prince to let them go. Irene wants to know why she married the prince if she didn’t love him, but Sitha explains—for anyone who didn’t see the first film—that Sadhu wanted her for his harem, and Chandra saved her from that fate by marrying her himself, for which she felt great gratitude. Irene then volunteers to go with Sitha to make her case to Chandra, but before they can get very far, Ramigani shows up and sends Sitha back to her room under guard. He then warns Irene not to reveal to Peter Fürbringer anything she has seen or heard.
 
Speaking of whom, Peter is waiting for Irene back in her quarters. He wants to know where she has been and he is not pleased that she won’t tell him. But she does say that she wants to leave Eschnapur as soon as possible. She then tells him to leave because she has to go speak to the prince. “I understand,” he says, not understanding at all. Once again, the story feels like a rom com.


​This sequence is followed by a silly episode. Emil wakes up in his bungalow to discover a cobra. He yells for Hannibal, the elephant, who snorts up a trunk full of water and sprays the cobra out of Emil’s quarters. Now the film feels like a Three Stooges two-reeler.

Sitha explains her situation to Irene.
In the prince’s quarters, he has planned a charming little dinner for two, but Irene tells him that she has seen the maharani and that Ramigani is planning a crime against her. But the prince says that nothing happens in this country against his will—meaning he is the one who has ordered Sitha to be immured alive in the tomb. Irene is stunned. Chandra tells her, “You will never understand. We live in another world. That woman did something terrible to me. Here, vengeance is a law without pity. And according to that law, she has to pay.” Irene is still appalled. “Now,” she says, “I understand you, you and your country. I ask only one thing of you—let us go. Tear up the contract with Mr. Fürbringer. He neither can nor must build this tomb.” But Chandra replies menacingly, “Mr. Fürbringer will finish the construction, or he will never leave the country.” Now the film feels like a melodrama again.

Elsewhere, Ramigani is working on another phase of his palace revolt. He has the workers digging away at the rock that is holding back the water everyone was worried about at the beginning of this part of the film. He expects the work to be completed in a couple of days when the prince will be having a big celebration. While all the guests are assembled in the great hall, Ramigani will flood out the palace and kill his rivals.


So no one misses the point, the Prince stands before a Hindu idol (ironically, it's Ganesha--the problem solver) and with his face in shadow tells Irene she will never understand.
Next day, Sascha/Kurzov is telling Peter about strange noises he has been hearing in the hills for the last few nights. Explosions, but not where their people are supposed to be working on the south side. They agree to go take a look at the north side. However, they are then interrupted by the approach of marauding men riding through what appears to be the workers’ camp, and they are using burning torches to set fire to the tents. (Just exactly what the purpose of this raid is supposed to be is not clear—perhaps it is an attempt to capture Sascha.) Peter shoots one of the marauders, whom Peter recognizes as one of Ramigani’s men. Peter then grabs a horse and announces that he is riding to the palace. Sascha heads for his bungalow, which the marauders set on fire, a scene reminiscent of the siege of MacAllan’s jungle bungalow in the silent film.

At this point, the film is marred by a truly unfortunate lapse of taste. We are forced to watch two elephants fighting, a staged event much like a cock fight or a dog fight. Ramigani and the prince are there in box seats, and Irene is there, too. Ramigani is informed that the construction camp is on fire, and he leaves. Peter then arrives and tells Ramigani that he needs to see the maharajah, but Ramigani says he he cannot disturb him at the moment. “Cannot or will not?” Fürbringer demands. “So you can arrange for help to arrive too late?” Ramigani then demands to know why Sascha Demidoff has been working in Peter’s camp. Peter doesn’t know anyone named Demidoff, but then Ramigani identifies him as Kurzov. Ramigani demands Peter tell him where Demidoff is, but Peter refuses to speak. Ramigani then declares he can make Peter talk.


​Later, Irene confronts Ramigani, who lies to her and claims the revolt against the prince has been suppressed, but he has no news of Peter. She ain’t buying, so she rides off to look for him herself. En route, Ramigani’s men capture her, an event which is witnessed by Sascha, newly escaped from the burning bungalow. He returns to the construction office, where he tells Emil that Irene has been captured. Emil and Sascha determine to rescue her, and to do so, they will need to figure a way to get into Ramigani’s palace. “Now,” says Sascha to whiny Emil, “you can prove that you are a man.”

Sadhu's marauders burn the workers' camp.
After a dissolve, we see them in Indian disguise as they drive a sort of hay wagon into the center of town. Emil decides the way into Ramigani’s palace is for them to pretend to be sellers of saris. (Here the film feels like Abbott and Costello go to Baghdad.) In the marketplace, they observe a clandestine shipment of rifles, presumably arms for the rebels and they overhear the plans to flood Chandra’s palace. The great gong is to be the signal to set off the dynamite.

Sascha tells Emil to go find Irene, who must try to talk to Sitha and Peter. Sascha will try to head off the flood. They agree to meet again at the south gate of the city. Pretending to be a seller of saris, Emil then manages to connect with Myrrha, who promises to find Irene.

Good grief! Is it Bud and Lou? Shemp and Moe? No, it's Emil and Sascha in disguise as pedlars.
In Ramigani’s palace, Myrrha finds Irene and volunteers to show her where Peter is being kept. They go sneaking around until they find him at the bottom of a dungeon. Irene tosses him a gun and gives him a quick precis of the situation, mentioning the meeting at the south gate. With the gun, Peter escapes and later connects with Emil. They then ride to the prince’s palace, where Peter alerts the troops that the maharajah is in danger.

​For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Ramigani is determined that Sitha must dance at the prince’s party that night. She would refuse, but Myrrha points out that this is the only way to approach the prince and warn him about Ramigani’s coup détat in the making. 
​In the dungeon, Peter looks up at Irene.
This sets up La Jana’s next big dance number, with the unctuous Sardhu watching from the wings. Apparently, Chandra doesn’t recognize Sitha at first, but she dances up close and starts to warn him that Ramigani wants to assassinate him, But Ramigani tosses her aside, and suddenly, the room fills with armed men as Sardhu steps forward and announces that Chandra is now Sardhu’s prisoner.

Peter Fürbringer then rushes in, gun drawn, followed by more armed men, presumably the prince’s troops. It’s a stand-off, but Ramigani issues the order to sound the gong. Dynamite is set off, and water begins flowing.


Great gams! Looks like Sitha to me, but apparently, Chandra doesn't recognize her.
The prince yells for the arrest of the dissidents, but Ramigani bolts, and Fürbringer chases after him. Sardhu then raises his gun to fire at the prince, but Sitha jumps in front of the prince and takes the bullet. Dying, she looks up into Chandra’s eyes and says only, “Chandra . . . !”

The gong rings for the second time, the signal for dynamite under the palace, but Sascha appears and overpowers the guy who is supposed to hit the plunger. The palace is then saved, but the camera cuts away before we see Sascha’s ultimate fate. We never see him again in the film (and Sitha is already among the choir invisible), so we presume Sascha dies in the struggle. Now the film feels like Romeo and Juliet.

Sitha takes one for the team.
Meanwhile, Ramigani is trying to escape through the bowels of the palace, where water is rising. However, Peter finds him. They fight, and a leaking wall gives way, burying Ramigani under water and debris. In the great hall above, the rebellion has been turned back. Peter walks in and informs Chandra that Ramigani is dead. Peter and Irene clinch, the boys shake hands, and we’re done.

The End




Sitha’s death in this film seems to be an echo of Savitra’s swan dive into the ravine at the end of the silent film—but only an echo. Unlike the rajah in the silent film, Chandra doesn’t seem particularly broken up over Sitha’s death. The whole tone and tenor of this film is entirely too lightweight to support that kind of tragic angst. Furthermore, Sascha and Sitha are not Romeo and Juliet. They are culpable—he is an acknowledged ne’er-do-well and she willingly abandons her marriage to the prince to go back on the nightclub circuit with Sascha. They have done wrong, and they must be punished. Joseph Goebbels’s censorship office would not permit otherwise. (Nor would such shenanigans have been permitted in America. We can almost feel the ghostly hand of Joe Breen reaching out of the void  to enforce the Hays Code.)

Whether or not it all held together or made any sense or possessed any stylistic unity, the film was successful—a big, silly, vaudeville show of a movie that had something for just about everyone. There were many similar films in Germany at the time, which is to say, this one was equally a success in that market. Outside of Germany, the film apparently did not meet with a lot of audience enthusiasm.


So, did the world really need yet another film version of The Indian Tomb?


Apparently, the answer was yes.



NEXT: Part Four

The architect and the maharajah are friends again. Was that what the film was really about?