Lost Continent (1951 film)
|Directed by||Sam Newfield|
|Produced by||Jack Leewood
Robert L. Lippert
|Written by||Orville H. Hampton
Richard H. Landau
Carol Young (story)
|Edited by||Philip Cahn|
|Distributed by||Lippert Pictures Inc.|
Lost Continent is a 1951 American black-and-white science fiction film from Lippert Pictures, produced by Jack Leewood, Robert L. Lippert and Sigmund Neufeld, directed by Sam Newfield (brother of producer Sigmund Neufeld), and starring Cesar Romero, Hillary Brooke, Chick Chandler, Sid Melton, Hugh Beaumont and John Hoyt.
An expedition is sent to the South Pacific to search for a missing atomic-powered rocket in order to retrieve the vital scientific data recorded aboard. On an uncharted island they discover more than their rocket, now crashed atop a mysterious plateau: they find a lost jungle world populated by prehistoric dinosaurs.
Maj. Joe Nolan (Cesar Romero) is the head of an expedition to the South Pacific to retrieve an atomic-powered rocket that vanished without a trace. He has previously lived in a South American jungle, as has fellow serviceman and pilot Lt. Danny Wilson (Chick Chandler), who is also on the expedition. An aircraft mechanic named Sgt. William Tatlow (Sid Melton) is also recruited on the expedition, which includes the three scientists that helped make the rocket.
Their transport aircraft mysteriously crash-lands on a remote, unknown tropical island in the area where the rocket was lost on radar. They find only two occupants left of the island, a native woman (Acquanetta) and her young brother. The woman indicates something fell from the sky atop a forbidding, cloud-shrouded plateau that dominates a part of the island. The rocket's fiery arrival caused the rest of the native population to abandon the island.
Despite numerous obstacles (one of their members, Stanley Briggs (Whit Bissell), is accidentally killed on the ascent) and after long, long stretches of tedious rock climbing, the expedition finally reaches the top of the escarpment. Emerging from the toxic, poisonous gas cloud cover, they discover a lush, prehistoric jungle inhabited by various dinosaurs and a large field of uranium, which has disabled their electronic tracking equipment.
The group comes upon a Brontosaurus, which then attacks Robert Phillips (Hugh Beaumont) as he quickly retreats up a tree. This results in Nolan and Wilson shooting at it, but they quickly discover that the dinosaur's thick hide absorbs bullets with little affect. Later that night, they set up camp. When Nolan wakes up, he finds Phillips and Russian scientist Michael Rostov (John Hoyt) gone. He then discovers that Rostov got himself stuck in a large rock near a Triceratops; he accuses Phillips of arranging the accident on purpose, but Rostov insists that he tried to help Phillips escape. The Triceratops nearly attacks the group, but another makes a challenge and the two dinosaurs fight to the death.
Nolan suspects that Rostov, the scientist that helped make the rocket, is up to no good because he also appeared to be able to save Stanley Briggs on their climb up but couldn't. Eventually, Rostov reveals himself to be a victim of the Holocaust in which he lost his wife and unborn child.
A Pterosaur is later shot by Wilson for food near the rocket's landing site. They soon discover the rocket is surrounded by a Brontosaurus and a pair of Triceratops, but Nolan devises a strategy where the team successfully scare off the dinosaurs using their weapons. Rostov and Phillips retrieve the needed data from the rocket. With his back turned, Tatlow is then gored to death by an angry Triceratops, just as it is being shot by Nolan and Wilson. The team digs a grave and make a cross marker for Tatlow. When violent earthquake tremors begin, the team makes a hasty retreat down the side of the plateau.
The four surviving members manage to successfully return to the island's flatland with the rocket's critical component. This proves to be just in time to escape the island using a native outrigger canoe. The survivors watch from a distance as the island is first rocked by more violent earthquakes and then the catastrophic eruption of the island's formerly dormant volcano, which finally destroys everything – prehistoric jungle, dinosaurs and all.
Lost Continent was a low-budget independent film shot in just 11 days from April 13 to late April 1951 at Goldwyn Studios. Black-and-white footage set atop the prehistoric escarpment was tinted a mint-green color on all theatrical release prints to produce an eerie, other-worldly effect. The general plotline of the film strongly resembles that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel, The Lost World.
Lost Continent was not able to overcome its low-budget origins despite having former screen idol Cesar Romero in a leading role. A later review clearly identified the main issue: " . . . a good third of the movie is spent showing our characters climbing the same styrofoam set prop from different angles, it is fitting. The pacing is pretty slow: the first twenty minutes is spent introducing the characters; the next 20 is spent having them climb up a mountain, and then jamming what little action there is into the remaining run time—all of which you would have seen in the trailer" 
Lost Continent was featured in a season 2 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank taunted Joel Robinson before the film began with the words "Rock Climbing." In a host segment Michael J. Nelson portrayed actor Hugh Beaumont as a member of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse).
- Warren 1982, pp. 151–163.
- "Original print information: 'Lost Continent' (1951)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: February 3, 2015.
- Ulmer, Jeff. "Image Entertainment presents 'Lost Continent' (1951)." digitallyobsessed.com, December 6, 2001. Retrieved: February 3, 2015.