Lost Continent (1951)
Looking every inch at home in a military uniform, Cesar Romero commands respect here as a major in the air force called in when John Hoyt’s top secret missile goes missing.
This low budget affair courtesy of producer Robert L. Lippert begins as so many fifties science fiction flicks do. With the launching of a missile. Standing watch at launch control we have a host of regular faces including Hoyt, Hugh Beaumont, Whit Bissell and Sid Melton. The rocket is launched but things don’t go as planned when it fails to return and is believed lost at sea.
Romero is called in from a hot date with second billed Hillary Brooke to take our group of scientists by plane to the supposed crash sight and retrieve vital statistics recorded by the rocket. In case your wondering, Miss Brooke’s screen time amounts to a total of about 4 minutes earning her the coveted second billing under Cesar.
Fate steps in when the plane Cesar is piloting loses it’s power over the estimated rocket location and crash lands on the tried and true uncharted island featured in many a “lost men on a scientific mission” movie. Care to guess what my be lurking on this jungle paradise?
Fortunately the gang are not hurt in the crash landing. Shortly thereafter they find the one time horror queen Acquanetta in a deserted jungle village telling them that a fireball from the sky landed in the forbidden mountains of her people. Thank you Miss Acquanetta for your brief appearance.
Romero leads the troop to the mountain top where they will discover the anticipated “lost world” of dinosaurs all the while searching for the top secret results of the rocket launch. It’s going to be a cliched 83 minute ride played out for our enjoyment and if viewed on a rainy afternoon can make for a fun flashback to the days of the “B” flick.
This is the type of movie that lends itself easily to ridicule but in the end is just a guilty pleasure. The type that are fun to discover and eventually revisit.
One can’t help but think as the men climb to the mountain top that it looks very similar to the path Johnny Weissmuller climbed leading a safari in many of his Tarzan adventures. It even features a great shot of one of our leading players falling to his death from an overhead camera angle and disappearing into the fog below. It’s easily the most creative shot in the film.
When the men do reach the summit the filmmakers chose to tint the black and white film green giving it that little extra something. There is some Ray Harryhausen styled special effects in the dinosaur department and when one of our other men gets attacked and seemingly eaten by a Stegosaurus he’s around long enough to utter the line, “What a way to go baby'” before he sleeps the big sleep. It’s a laugh out loud clip.
Leave it to Beaver’s Hugh Beaumont wasn’t only resigned to this lost world pic. He would also join John Agar for a visit to an underworld featuring The Mole People in 1956. Whit Bissell was a staple of the genre and would turn up in the smash hit The Creature From the Black Lagoon among his many titles.
Romero for my generation is probably best known as The Joker and with the sixties show finally available on DVD he just might reclaim that title among his more recent competitors for the craziest jokester of all.
These lost world films are plentiful and can usually make for some light viewing when given the chance. No classic here but still a fun look back to the lost world pics of the fifties.