The Lost World
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Time Out saysThe idea that a film of Arthur Conan Doyle'sThe Lost World was itself lost seems so apt, you'd almost suspect it was mislaid on purpose - but wait, it was. A pioneering exercise in stop-motion animation effects in its day (1925) courtesy of 'research and technical director' Willis O'Brien, it was withdrawn just four years later, deemed obsolete by the arrival of the talkies. All known prints and export negatives were destroyed in favour of a sound remake. That of course became King Kong, and you can see how not only O'Brien but the latter's dramatic team learnt from the first film's successes and failures. Collated from some eight known sources, including a 35mm print rediscovered in the Czech film archives, this best-possible restored and remastered version shows the drama skewed towards the adventurers' exploratory rumpus in the jungle, with the more startling spectacle of a brontosaurus loose in London almost tacked on as an epilogue (the Blue Posts on Berwick Street really gets it). Lloyd Hughes makes a rather earnest strong jaw of a lead, and the sex (human/human) is almost a shaggy-dog story; worse (unless this edit does him a disservice), dramatic director Harry Hoyt flunks the suspense, introducing and cutting to his show-stopping monsters almost at random so that tension is muffled and the danger obscured. That said, the film retains a certain naive wonderment, the story (Eurocentric as it may be) still holds up, and Wallace Beery is an inimitably hirsute Professor Challenger.