Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


LOST CITY OF THE JUNGLE (13 chapter Universal serial/1946). Directors: Lewis D. Collins; Ray Taylor.

Rod Stanton (Russell Hayden), an agent for the United Peace Foundation, is after a sinister figure, Sir Eric Hazarius (Lionel Atwill), who faked his own death and is calling himself "Jeffrey London." In Zalabar, the capital of Pendrang in the Himalayas, Dr. Elmore (John Eldredge) is working with London, unaware of his true identity. His daughter Marjorie (Jane Adams) has come to Zalabar to find her father. Nothing goes on in town without the say so of Indira (Helen Bennett), who at first seeks an alliance with London/Azarius, and seems to switch sides throughout the serial. Rounding out the cast of characters is agent Tal Shan (Keye Luke); Doc Harris (Ted Hecht), the casino owner; and a British gambler named "System" (Arthur Space, who was the villain in Panther Girl of the Kongo). There's a lot of talk of a Supersonic Wave Device made from "the most powerful radioactive element in the world," as well as treasure in a lost city with a statue of the Golden Goddess in the Cave of Eternal Sun. In other words, Lost City of the Jungle has practically everything in it but the proverbial kitchen sink. There are some effective cliffhangers involving earthquakes, fire pits, a gas-in-a-tomb death trap; and a guillotine held up by a rope that's rapidly burning. Good use of dramatic stock footage and an interesting score, as well. Hayden appeared mostly in westerns before and after this serial. Adams was Vicki Vale in the serial Batman and Robin; as an actress she had little oomph. Bennett had only a few credits to her name. 

Verdict: Definitely one of the more entertaining Universal serials. ***.

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