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

Thursday, October 11, 2012


The Three Investigators on the job

THE THREE INVESTIGATORS AND THE SECRET OF SKELETON ISLAND (2007). Director: Florian Baxmeyer. Based on the book by Robert Arthur.

In the sixties there was a series of juvenile mysteries called "Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators". Three young boys would report to the famous film director, and take off on assignments to solve puzzling mysteries. One of the books was entitled "The Secret of Skeleton Island."  [NOTE: There was an even better young adult mystery with the same title published as the first novel in the Ken Holt Mystery series by Bruce Campbell.] This German-South African production basically throws out the story of the novel and substitutes a tale of a mythical monster, a search for treasure, and a sub-theme of the evils of racism set on an island near Capetown. [The only relation to the book is that one of the boys' father's is hired to work on an amusement park, but it is never seen or referred to again in the movie.] The film has an excellent prologue wherein the boys are nearly crushed under a descending elevator, and a good scene late in the film when they're trapped in an underground chamber [this may be taken for a substitute for the books' best sequence, in which they are caught in an underwater cavern]. There's also an exciting scene when the boys go paragliding, although none have much experience at it. The young actors in this -- Chancellor Miller, Nick Price and Cameron Monaghan as the investigators, and Naima Sebe as a girl they befriend and help during the adventure -- are excellent, and the production is certainly slick. A sequel, The Three Investigators and the Castle of Terror is only available in Australia. Alfred Hitchcock, alas, is nowhere to be seen.

Verdict: Fun for children. **1/2.


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