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1960: Irwin Allen

1925: Harry O. Hoyt


1960: Claude Rains, Jill St. John, Fernando Lamas, Michael Rennie, David Hedison

1925: Bessie Love, Lewis Stone, Wallace Beery, Lloyd Hughes, Alma Bennett

Writing Credits:

1960: Arthur Conan Doyle (novel), Irwin Allen, Charles Bennett

1925: Arthur Conan Doyle (novel), Marion Fairfax

In the middle of the twentieth century, you fall off the brink of time!

An eccentric scientist (Claude Rains) returns from the Amazon with news of a distant plateau where creatures from the dawn of time still prowl the jungle.

To prove his story, he gathers a team of explorers, including a journalist (David Hedison), a playboy-adventurer (Michael Rennie), a beautiful socialite (Jill St. John), and a pilot (Fernando Lamas) with a secret plan of revenge. But an unexpected attack on their camp leaves the group stranded in a world of dinosaurs and other exotic creatures, where humans are no longer the lords of the earth - they are helpless prey.

Rated NR

Widescreen 2.35:1/16X9
English Dolby Surround 4.0
English Stereo
Spanish Monaural
French Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 96 min.
Price: $19.98
Release Date: 9/11/07

DVD One:
• “Footprints on the Sands of Time” Featurette
• Newsreels
• Trailer
• Galleries
DVD Two:
• 1925 Silent Version of The Lost World
• 1925 Trailer
• 1925 Outtakes

• Booklet


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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The Lost World: Special Edition (1960 & 1925 Versions)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 11, 2008)

Most folks associate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle with the Sherlock Holmes books, but that series doesn’t encompass all of his work. We find a cinematic adaptation of one of his other tales via 1960’s The Lost World. In this fantasy, noted zoological professor George Edward Challenger (Claude Rains) returns to London to reveal a massive piece of news. Challenger states that he discovered living dinosaurs during a trip to the Amazon.

As one might expect, Challenger’s proclamation endures jeers from a doubtful audience. To that end, Challenger proposes an expedition to prove his claims. He gathers a traveling party that includes rival professor Walter Summerlee (Richard Haydn), big game hunter and explorer Lord Roxton (Michael Rennie), newsman Ed Malone (David Hedison), socialite/newspaper bigwig’s daughter Jennifer Holmes (Jill St. John) and her brother David (Ray Stricklyn). Along with native guide Costa (Jay Novello) and helicopter pilot Gomez (Fernando Lamas), they head to the jungle plateau on which Challenger believes they’ll find dinosaurs. We follow their adventures as they explore the wilds and deal with various forms of intrigue and danger.

Since I wasn’t born until 1967, obviously I can’t gauge how audiences reacted to World in 1960. However, I can say this with certainty: the flick hasn’t aged well over the last 48 years. Many movies suffer from dated elements but still endure and even thrive. World feels like such a campy product of its era, however, that it becomes more laughable than exciting or thrilling.

I maintain an affection for Irwin Allen, the producer/director of World. He created The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure, 1970s disaster flicks that so delighted me as a kid. I can’t ignore what those movies meant to me back then, so I find it tough to criticize Allen too harshly.

Crappy efforts like World strain my sentimentality, though. Here Allen takes a terrific idea and completely wastes it. Rather than excite us with the excitement involved of a true “lost world”, Allen prefers to concentrate on soap opera romance, treasure hunting and barely related subplots. When the explorers encounter a native girl, does she come along for story reasons? No – she’s there mainly to create a sexy presence and to offer a love interest for young Johnny.

At least the film succeeds in terms of the sexy presence, as Vitina Marcus was super hot, even when saddled with a terrible black wig. The rest of the story elements bog down the flick, however, and make it a chore to watch. The flick proceeds at a snail’s pace and seems oddly unconcerned with thrills or action.

Not that the actors help matters. Granted, since the film sticks them with thin, superficial characters, they don’t get much with which to work. Nonetheless, the acting really droops. We get a series of stiff performances that usually feel weirdly detached from the action. Occasionally it feels like all the actors are in different movies, none of which connect to this one. Even the normally reliable Rains can’t do anything to help; he huffs and harrumphs a lot but that’s about it.

Dinosaurs appear with alarming infrequency, and when they do, they make World even sillier. No, I don’t expect Jurassic Park caliber effects from a 1960 effort, but I’d like to see more convincing work than what we get here. Heck, the original King Kong provided some good stop-motion material 27 years earlier, and Ray Harryhausen moved that field along substantially in the interim.

World decides not to go the stop-motion route, though, almost certainly to save money. Instead, Allen just took lizards and attached dinosaur prosthetics onto them! That sounds like a joke, and I wish it were. Unfortunately, it’s the truth. Not only do the “lizardsaurs” look like exactly what they are – little reptiles with makeup appliances – but also the flick integrates those effects shots with the live action in an incredibly clumsy action.

All of this makes it absolutely impossible to suspend disbelief. At no point do we buy any of the action we see on screen or care about what happens. I don’t present this point of view simply because the effects don’t live up to modern work. I don’t hold flicks from 1960 to live up to the same standards, and just because filmmakers didn’t have the same tools back then doesn’t mean they couldn’t create solid effects. Again, 1933’s Kong succeeds well despite the lack of realism in its visual elements.

World just feels cheap and goofy. Nothing works here, from the effects to the acting to the story to… well, everything. With such a cool story idea, this is a shame, but I have to recognize the flick as a total dud.

The DVD Grades: Picture B-/ Audio C/ Bonus B

The Lost World appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. The disc presented an inconsistent transfer.

Sharpness reflected the various ups and downs. Much of the time the movie exhibited pretty good delineation, but more than a few concerns emerged. Wide shots proved the least positive, as they often suffered from moderate softness. No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and only light edge enhancement was obvious. Source flaws were modest. I noticed occasional specks and marks, but these weren’t heavy. Unsurprisingly, they appeared most obvious during effects shots, where they became inevitable due to the style of photography.

Colors acted as a highlight of the transfer. The hues usually came across as vivid and lively, and they rarely suffered from any fading or problems. Blacks were also nicely deep and taut, while shadows tended to be clear and well-defined. The movie did feature some poor “day for night” photography, but those shots didn’t present the usual excessive darkness; instead, they just looked like daytime images. Between the softness and the print flaws, I thought this was a “B-“ transfer.

Since most movies from 1960 remained monaural, the Dolby Surround 4.0 soundtrack of The Lost World proved more ambitious than typical for the era. However, that was a mixed blessing due to some erratic execution. Localization became a concern, especially in terms of dialogue. Often the speech would emanate from a spot unconnected to the actor. If the person stood in the center, their lines might come from the left. If the movie placed them on the left, we might hear them from the right. A fair amount of dialogue showed up in the correct place, but the frequent inconsistencies virtually rendered the successes moot; the goofs were so distracting that I wish the film simply went with centered speech the whole time.

Otherwise I thought the soundfield worked pretty well. Music spread to the sides with some decent stereo imaging, and effects helped open things up to a modest degree. Nothing especially exciting emerged, but the mix showed a reasonable sense of space. The surrounds contributed minor reinforcement but nothing beyond that.

Audio quality was another inconsistent element. Music worked best, as the score seemed fairly lively and clear. That side of things didn’t excel, but it satisfied. Speech tended to be stiff and brittle, though the lines were intelligible throughout the film. Effects were thin and lackluster for the most part. Some dinosaur roars showed heft, but they also could be rough. At times, I noticed some unnerving distortion and crackling from the front left speaker. None of the problems were bad enough to drop the soundtrack below a “C”, but the audio disappointed since it could’ve been much better.

When we head to the extras, the prime attraction comes from the 1925 silent version of The Lost World. This edition runs one hour, 16 minutes and tells the same basic story as the 1960 flick. It changes a few characters, though, and leaves out the Amazon natives. The 1925 World also brings a full-grown live dinosaur back to London – and allows it to run wild through the streets!

In virtually every way, the 1925 World outdoes its 1960 remake. The story comes across as more dynamic and involving. The flick boasts real excitement and drama along with some actual emotion as well. The climactic romp through London is a real corker and neatly foreshadows what Spielberg would do with his own Lost World in 1997.

Even though 35 years of filmmaking advances passed between the 1925 and 1960 editions, the effects of the silent version work much better. Instead of lizards with makeup, the original World boasts stop-motion work by Willis O’Brien, the same artist behind King Kong. I won’t claim that the flick’s dinosaurs are believable, but they fare well nonetheless. They fit into the movie and help allow us to embrace its action. At least O’Brien’s dinosaurs look like dinosaurs! All in all, the silent World proves very enjoyable.

We also get the trailer for the 1925 edition as well as some Outtakes from that shoot. This collection lasts seven minutes, 10 seconds and shows more images of O’Brien’s stop-motion dinosaurs. It allows for some interesting up-close glimpses of his work.

A few supplements connect directly to the 1960 Lost World. A vintage featurette called Footprints on the Sands of Time fills three minutes, 14 seconds as it shows archeological attempts to find and reassemble dinosaur skeletons as well as some movie elements. “Time” exists to promote the film, which means it acts as a glorified trailer. Don’t expect anything more from it.

Next we get a Fox Movietone Newsreel called “The Lost World Found Thrilling By PAL Youths”. In this 59-second clip, we see some New York kids go to a screening of the flick. They meet actor David Hedison and attend the movie. This is a commercial dressed up as news.

In addition to the movie’s trailer, we find some Galleries. This department includes “Interactive Press Book” (8 screens), “Comic Book” (running 91-second reels), “Still Gallery” (9:21), “Advertising Gallery” (1:17), and “Illustrations Gallery” (1:40). Some good material appears here, but except for “Press Book”, the presentation stinks. We can’t pause the running clips, so they don’t allow close inspection. This isn’t so bad during “Still”, “Advertising” and “Illustrations”, but it’s a real drag during the “Comic Book” since we don’t get enough time to read the panels.

At least the “Press Book” works better. It shows lots of ads and articles, and in a nice touch, we can activate certain elements for a closer look at them. Why the other galleries couldn’t work in such a user-friendly manner escapes me, but the flawed choices make those collections less successful.

Finally, a short booklet appears. In this four-page text, we learn a little about the source novel as well as both the 1925 and 1960 films. It’s a good addition to the set.

I don’t expect dynamic characters and brilliant dialogue from a fantasy flick like 1960’s The Lost World; sure, I’d appreciate them, but I don’t really think I’ll get them. However, I do want such a movie to provide real adventure and excitement, two quantities in short supply from World. The film fails to engage, delight or even provide minor entertainment. The DVD gives us erratic but decent visuals along with flawed audio and a few extras led by the entire silent 1925 version of World. That edition is the only thing worthwhile here, as the original World proves quite entertaining. Unfortunately, its remake is a complete stinker.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.25 Stars Number of Votes: 4
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