Film Review – THE LOST WORLD (1960)

THE LOST WORLD (1960, USA, 97m, PG) ***
Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
dist. Twentieth Century Fox; pr co. Saratoga Productions; d. Irwin Allen; w. Charles Bennett, Irwin Allen (based on the novel by Arthur Conan Doyle); pr. Irwin Allen; ph. Winton C. Hoch (DeLuxe | 2.35:1); m. Paul Sawtell, Bert Shefter; ed. Hugh S. Fowler; ad. Duncan Cramer, Walter M. Simonds.
cast: Michael Rennie (Lord John Roxton), Jill St. John (Jennifer Holmes), David Hedison (Ed Malone), Claude Rains (Prof. George Edward Challenger), Fernando Lamas (Manuel Gomez), Richard Haydn (Prof. Summerlee), Ray Stricklyn (David Holmes), Jay Novello (Costa), Vitina Marcus (Native Girl), Ian Wolfe (Burton White), Colin Campbell (Prof. Waldron (uncredited)), John Graham (Stuart Holmes (uncredited)).
This adaptation of Conan Doyle’s classic adventure is given a contemporary setting. Allen had also wanted to use stop-motion dinosaurs, but due to budget constraints, he had to use lizards with plastic horns and spikes on model sets. You could hardly call them dinosaurs. That said the production is enjoyable hokum with familiar thrills and excitements. The story sees anthropology professor George Challenger (Rains), explorer Lord John Roxton (Rennie) and an assorted team of thrill-seekers and experts, led by Hedison and including the delectable St. John, trek through a South American rainforest Rains claims is home to living prehistoric creatures. There they meet the dangers of the environment and a lost native tribe. Rains has enormous fun as the eccentric Challenger and Hedison makes an admirable action hero. Rennie, however, seems a little old for his role and at odds with the material. If you can get past the cut-price effects work and often flat direction, this makes for diverting entertainment but fails to do Conan Doyle’s novel justice.