VCI Home Video // 1946 // 247 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Chief Counsel Rob Lineberger (Retired) // April 27th, 2007
13 Chapters of mighty thrills!
War monger Eric Hazarias (Lionel Atwill) sets up a laboratory deep in the Himalayan jungle to look for Meteorium 245, which he can use to dominate the Earth. United Peace Foundation Investigator Rod Stanton (Russell Hayden), local bigwig Tal Shan (Keye Luke), and headstrong stowaway Marjorie Elmore (Jane Adams) want to stop him. Dynamite and fisticuffs ensue in these thirteen chapters of "mighty thrills:"
1. Himalaya Horror
2. The Death Flood
3. Wave Length for Doom
4. The Pit of Pendrang
5. Fiery Danger
6. Death's Shining Face
7. Speedboat Missing
8. Fire Jet Torture
9. Zalabar Death Watch
10. Booby Trap Rendezvous
11. Pendrang Guillotine
12. Jungle Smash-Up
13. Atomic Vengeance
I'll get right to the point (which Lost City of the Jungle rarely does): there is no reason to watch this unless you have very strong nostalgia for it. I love VCI, and the serial may have been rousing when you had to wait a week to learn what happened next. Also, that week between episodes would have given your neurons time to forget the essential plot elements, so that said neurons weren't excited into a frustrated frenzy with each line of clunky dialogue.
An example is in order. So as to protect the deep mystery at the heart of Lost City of the Jungle, we'll call the bad guy Sir Gruel and the good guy Robert Dashing. Conversations go something like this:
Henchman One: Sir Gruel, we've spotted Dashing in the jungle!
Sir Gruel: Dash it all, call me Jenkins Wellingbury like we practised! As you remember from last week's episode, I shaved my moustache and changed my name from Sir Gruel to Jenkins Wellingbury so that Robert Dashing wouldn't recognize me!
Henchman One: Sorry, Sir Gruel...I mean, Jenkins Wellingbury.
Henchman Two: (aside) Gosh, I sure hope Robert Dashing doesn't recognize that Sir Gruel just changed his name to Jenkins Wellingbury and shaved his moustache, or we're all cooked.
Sir Gruel: We should set off some dynamite in the jungle.
Henchman Two: Sir...um...Jenkins Wellingbury, we've spotted Robert Dashing, the spy sent by World Peace Corps to find us, in the casino! He didn't die in the jungle last week when we set off the dynamite, and is asking questions about whether Jenkins Wellingbury is really Sir Gruel!
Sir Gruel: If Robert Dashing is asking, then he doesn't full recognize that I shaved my moustache and changed my name from Sir Gruel to Jenkins Wellingbury so that he wouldn't recognize me!
Henchman One: We should make sure that Robert Dashing doesn't recognize that Sir Gruel just changed his name to Jenkins Wellingbury and shaved his moustache, or we're all cooked.
Henchman Two: More dynamite?
Sir Gruel: No! Tigers!
Every aspect of the show is recycled in just that manner. Shots are repeated, title cards are repeated, dialogue and action shots are repeated. New information takes up about four minutes in any given episode, and that information is recycled in subsequent episodes. Even Jane Adams in her tight outfit couldn't stop my teeth from gritting with each "new" word.
Too add insult to injury, the cliffhangers are rushed to the point that I didn't even realize the cliff hanging had begun before the episode jolted to a stop. Our heroes might be crounched beneath a pile of snow, or diving into the water, or tied up and awaiting a blade -- but the next week they just step out of the way and say "whew, glad that avalanche/dynamite/hanging blade didn't get us!"
The dialogue is bad, the action is bad, and the characters...well, they're the worst. No one in Lost City of the Jungle has heard of sarcasm or irony. "Why, I aughtta..." is a dire threat in these parts. The evil folks are evil, the heroes heroic, and that's about it.
If by some cruelty you are forced to watch Lost City of the Jungle, entertain yourself by spotting influences on Raiders of the Lost Ark and Star Wars. From musical cues to establishing shots, both movies borrow heavily from Lost City of the Jungle or something gosh-darn like it.
There are occassional shots with artistic merit, such as an extended night scene with mountaineers holding flares in snowy mountains. Otherwise, this Lost City of the Jungle DVD set is nearly impenetrable. The dark scenes are so black that you can distinguish nothing. Most of the outdoor scenes are riddled with scratches and dirt, and the interior shots are so artlessly composed that scratches actually add interest. The material is visually dull and the transferred print was in bad shape. The soundtrack is thin, warbling, and brassy. VCI provides an extremely long, dull trailer and some informative cast/crew bios.
If you have some strong nostalgia for this serial, by all means enjoy Lost City of the Jungle. Strong nostalgia is all that will get you through it, though. Bring your machete.
Review content copyright © 2007 Rob Lineberger; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: VCI Home Video
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
Running Time: 247 Minutes
Release Year: 1946
MPAA Rating: Not Rated