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Lost World, The

Entry updated 30 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

1. Film (1925). First National. Directed by Harry O Hoyt. Script by Marion Fairfax, based on The Lost World (1912) by Arthur Conan Doyle. Cast includes Wallace Beery, Lloyd Hughes, Bessie Love and Lewis Stone. 9700ft (approx 105 minutes, cut to 60 minutes). Black and white, with some tinted sequences.

Wallace Beery makes an unlikely Professor Challenger in this slow-moving, wordy (a large number of dialogue frames) silent version of the famous novel about the discovery of an almost inaccessible South American plateau, a Lost World in which prehistoric creatures, including Dinosaurs and apemen, still live. The film is relatively faithful to the book, certainly more so than the 1960 remake (see below), though one departure occurs at the climax when the brontosaurus taken back to London by Challenger to confound the snooty doubters of the Royal Society breaks free and goes on a rampage that ends with the destruction of Tower Bridge (in the book it was a small pterodactyl that escaped), a forerunner of many sequences in later Monster Movies. The film is interesting chiefly because of its special effects, the work of stop-motion photography pioneer Willis H O'Brien. It was the first feature film to make large-scale use of model animation combined with live action.

2. BBC Radio dramatizations (1938, 1944); some further adaptations are mentioned under Radio.

3. Film (1960). Twentieth Century Fox. Directed by Irwin Allen. Written by Allen, Charles Bennett. Cast includes David Hedison, Fernando Lamas, Claude Rains, Michael Rennie and Jill St John. 97 minutes. Colour.

This rather lifeless remake contains all the usual Irwin Allen banalities, with the customary reliance on spectacle to carry the film. The special effects, supervised by L B Abbott, are certainly spectacular; this time the various dinosaurs were portrayed using live lizards photographically enlarged, and their death throes, when the plateau is engulfed by volcanic fire, are alarmingly realistic. [JB]


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