Lost Continent begins when an atomic-powered military rocket is lost in an unexplored region of the South Pacific. An Air Force expedition is dispatched to find it. Searching by air, their plane goes out of control and crash-lands on a strange, uncharted island. Searching for the rocket (to retrieve the flight data) they find a lost world of prehistoric dinosaurs. And vast radioactive uranium fields, powerful enough to cause rockets and planes to go off course. Hope nobody gets any greedy thoughts …
Lost Continent (1951) starring Cesar Romero, John Hoyt, Hugh Beaumont, Hillary Brooke
Well, the bad news is, there’s nothing fundamentally groundbreaking or original in Lost Continent. The good news is, the acting’s top rate, with everyone doing a good job. The characters are believable and likeable. The audience cheers for the protagonists at the proper moments, and even mourn when one of them gets gored.
- Rock climbing. It’s a short film (83 minutes), and 20 of them are spent climbing to the plateau. That’s not necessarily bad — The Lord of the Rings had a beautiful, extended section climbing a mountain towards their goal. But here, they’re climbing the same styrofoam rocks over, and over.
- The dinosaurs. Once our heroes get to the plateau where their rocket is, they find dinosaurs. They’re stop-motion animation, which I love. However my reaction to the brontosaurus and triceratops was, “Aren’t they cute?” Probably not what the film makers intended. For the record, the stop-motion animation was okay, but that’s damning with faint praise.
- Cheap death. During the rock climbing, shortly before falling to his death, Briggs shows a photo of his children. It’s the sort of thing that should’ve been done earlier. A little more characterization would have made the audience care more when he falls to his death.
- Good acting by the entire cast. It’s enjoyable to watch. That’s what’s at the heart of making Lost Continent enjoyable, despite the low budget.
- Musical score is excellent. It’s subtle, but it works very well.
- It’s not easy being green. Sorry, I couldn’t resist. For some reason, once they reach the plateau, the black and white film is green-tinted. It’s not really a negative, since it’s a visual break.
Cast of characters
- Major Joe Nolan (Cesar Romero, Weekend in Havana). Military pilot who becomes the leader of the expedition.
- Lt. Danny Wilson (Chick Chandler, Seven Doors to Death). Nolan’s friend, who’s served with him previously.
- Michael Rostov (John Hoyt, Attack of The Puppet People). A Russian scientist, whom Nolan distrusts because of his nationality. The film takes place during the Cold War, after all. But despite what looks like valid reasons for suspicions, Rostov’s one of the good guys. And a sympathetic figure, who survived both Nazi and Communist concentration camps. Losing his wife and son in the process.
- Native Girl (Acquanetta, Captive Wild Woman). The native who points the expedition to where the “flaming dragon” went. A very short appearance.
- Sgt. Willie Tatlow (Sid Melton, Green Acres). The aircraft mechanic who comes along, only to end up on the wrong end of a triceratops. A good death scene, by the way.
- Stanley Briggs (Whit Bissell, Creature from the Black Lagoon). Scientist who dies falling off the cliff in the extended rock-climbing segment.
- Robert Phillips (Hugh Beaumont, The Mole People). One of the scientists on the expedition, slightly greedy for uranium.
- Marla Stevens (Hillary Brooke, The Woman in Green). The woman that Nolan is romancing at the beginning of the film. She also only appears on screen for a short while, which is a pity.
Editorial review of Lost Continent courtesy of Amazon.com
A group of scientists formed by Professor Rostov, Doctor Philips and Doctor Briggs, are conducting tests with one of their valuable rockets over New Guinea. The rocket disappears during the tests. The government recruits an exceptional pilot, Major Nolan, to take a rescue expedition to retrieve it. When flying over a jungle island in the area, a radioactive wave disables the controls of the plane causing it to crash deep into the jungle. There you will discover something that could change the future of our world …
With its jungle scenes and dinosaurs, LOST CONTINENT is a direct heiress of King Kong and The Lost World, and although it does not have the bill or the scope of these two masterpieces, it does have an exceptional cast (César Romero, Hugh Beaumont, John Hoyt). Sam Newfield’s film can boast of being the first film that talks about atomic paranoia derived from the cold war using a prehistoric background. In this a few years ahead of some classics of the genre such as The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), Godzilla, (1954) and, on a smaller scale (much smaller) to King Dinosaur (1955) by Bert I. Gordon.