I've now seen LOST HORIZON 3 times. Now this is very strange... I first saw it (I think) on commercial TV in the late 60's. It had such a powerful impact on me, at some point (late 60's? early 70's?) I had a VERY vivid dream about one particular scene in the film, which stuck in my head so strongly, that I was reminded, decades later, of the dream.
In the 80's (sometime) I taped the film off of PBS (or was it AMC?). "Uncut", uninterrupted, but dodgy film quality, which got better or worse in different scenes. But I didn't watch when I taped it, and never actually played the tape back...
About 5 years ago (or more) I finally saw it for a 2nd time, on TCM, in its currently "restored" edition. A lot of the film is STILL in terrible shape (quality-wise) but they put back in a lot that was cut over the years, including 7 minutes where they had sound but no picture, so (like the 1984 METROPOLIS restoration), they filled the gap with still photos. I neglected to record this version of the film, however.
So 2 days ago, I finally watched my tape from the early 80's. It seems to me it's exactly what I saw on commercial TV in the late 60's, except without any breaks. Afterwards, I did a lot of reading about it online, and learned how long the thing was before it got severely cut by the studio (which was before it got further cut on reissues, etc.) I also read about the differences between the novel and film, and the 3 main changes, it seems to me, were all HUGE improvements. 1)adding a "comic" character (Edward Everett Horton). 2)adding a love interest (Jane Wyatt -- later known for FATHER KNOWS BEST and later still as Spock's mother!) 3)the main character DOES make it back to the valley at the end.
But now we delve into perhaps faulty memory stuff... because, I could have SWORN that when I saw this on TCM some years ago, that Ronald Colman actually DID make it back to ENGLAND... and then realized he had no place there, and was compelled to try to return to Tibet. Yet I could find NO mention of this anywhere online. Is it possible I mis-remembered, or can I possibly be thinking of some other movie??? In the film, he develops amnesia, but then is rescued, but then, on the boat back to England, his memory returns, and he jumps ship.
It's amazing it took me so long to decide to watch this again, as I've talked about this film quite a lot in recent years. Ever since I realized that Ronald Colman & Sam Jaffee were the part of the inspirations for Dr. Strange & The Ancient One.