The Lost World (1960)

06/08/2017 16:38

Film: The Lost World

Year: 1960

Director: Irwin Allen

Writer: Charles Bennett and Irwin Allen

Starring: Michael Rennie, Jill St. John and David Hedison



This film begins at the airport. A professor is getting off an airplane and it is said that he has made a discovery that will change everything; he is played by Claude Rains. Rains is annoyed that reporters are preventing him from getting off the airplane. One of them is played by David Hedison. When they do not move, Rains hits Hedison in the head with his umbrella. He is helped up by Jill St. John. We learn that she is a rich woman; her father owns the paper that Hedison works for. They both are going to the talk that Rains is going to be giving that day.

At this talk we meet the rest of the important characters. St. John talks with Michael Rennie, who we learn shortly is an explorer and a big game hunter. We also meet the professor who is trying to discredit Rains, he is played by Richard Haydn. Rains claims that he has found a lost world that have dinosaurs and other things that time forgot living on it. No one there believes him. It is decided that a team will be sent to prove if Rains is telling the truth. This team is made up of Rennie, Hedison, Rains and Haydn. St. John wants to join, but being a woman, Rains is against it. Hedison is only coming, because St. John’s father, played by John Graham, will pay for part of the expedition.

They arrive in South America and we meet the other members of this group. There is Jay Novello, who has gotten things around in South America and he is kind of shifty. The helicopter pilot who will take them to this plateau is played by Fernando Lamas. We also learn that St. John and her younger brother, played by Ray Stricklyn, have gotten down here. Rains tries to prevent them from coming, but he and Hedison end up agreeing reluctantly.

They land on the plateau and set up camp. It doesn’t take long until they encounter their first dinosaur, which is nothing more than a monitor lizard with something around its neck. This dinosaur ends up destroying their helicopter and their only way off the plateau. They also didn’t get a good look at it, so Haydn doesn’t believe that is what it is.

We learn more about the characters as well. Hedison has a crush on St. John, but she wants to marry Rennie, for his title. Lamas seems to be looking for something and is hiding a secret. Rennie is also hiding one as well. We see more dinosaurs, another lizard with horns and an alligator with things on its back. These ones fight each other and almost kill St. John and Hedison. They also meet a giant spider and a native girl; she is played by Vitina Marcus. It appears that this plateau is inhabited by a native tribe.

They end up finding a journal that gives them more information. An explorer was here three years previous and there is a connection with Rennie. How is he connected? What is Lamas looking for? Will St. John realize that Hedison is better for her? There is talk about diamonds being somewhere on this plateau, will Novello find them? Will they survive and find a way off this plateau?

I have to say that this film is really limited by the budget and the technology of the day. I like the story and this is actually the first version of this story that was made in sound. I think the cast is really good. You have Rennie and Rains who are solid. St. John isn’t bad looking for the time, but Marcus is definitely better. Hedison and Stricklyn are your typical heroes from films like this from the era.

As stated, there are some big issues. They use a monitor lizard to be a baby Tyrannosaur Rex. The dinosaurs all walk on four legs and they do not resemble the ones that Rains claims are supposed to be. This was due to budget, because originally it was supposed to be claymation, which would allow them to do more. The action was pretty boring to be honest and it a little bit too much talking. I also feel like due to being from the era it is, everything happens too conveniently and people change their mind on an instant. It just wasn’t realistic in their decision making.

This is also being added to the horror film research due to having people trapped in a dangerous situation. The dinosaurs are giant monsters which also contribute to this being added to the research as well.

With that said, if you can overlook the flaws, this isn’t a bad film. The acting is okay, the action is a bit weak, but the story is a classic. There are some really good actors, some pretty good looking women and your typical heroes. This is the best faithful version of this story I have seen. The sequel to Jurassic Park is much more exciting, but the 1920’s version at least uses the correct dinosaurs. If you can get past the dated feel of it, this is a decent film.


My Rating: 6 out of 10