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DVD Review: The Lost World (Special Edition) – 1960 & 1925 versions

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Written by Hombre Divertido

Irwin Allen’s 1960 production of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World is not the prize in this package. Mr. Allen’s production is actually outdone by the 1925 silent version directed by Harry Hoyt that is included in this two-disc set.

Though it can be challenging to watch a silent film, and with the music in this one being so heavy-handed, it does become distracting, but if you can appreciate what was accomplished over eighty years ago, you can’t help but find this effort endearing.

It is in the story and character development where it surpasses the efforts of the 1960 version. The actors of the silent era were far more expressive and relied on more action and depth of story to entertain and enthrall their audiences. This production also contains special effects that were groundbreaking (Pun intended.) for their time.

Unfortunately the same could not be said for the special effects in the 1960 endeavor. The Lost World, which had lost the race to the theatre by six months to Journey to the Center of the Earth, utilized virtually the same type of special effects to display its prehistoric creatures.

The 1960 outing is also quite formulaic in its storytelling and the characters are one-dimensional. Jill St. John as the heroine gives an amazingly trite performance, and Fernando Lamas and Jay Novello, though talented, should clearly be wearing red shirts. The rest of the cast including David Hedison, Michael Rennie, and the legendary Claude Raines give adequate performances, but Professor Challenger as portrayed by Raines does not seem as out of control as when portrayed by Wallace Beery in 1925.

The extras here are interesting. The deleted scenes from the 1925 version contain only shots of the creatures. The story of how this film was reassembled is quite interesting. Lots of photos and marketing material from the 1960 version including the original trailer, and a page-by-page layout of the comic book rendition of the film.

Recommendation: Though the 1960 version may be too simple for some, and the silent-era version just too taxing for someone looking for brain candy, together they do make for an interesting few hours. It allows for a history lesson on how cinematic storytelling has changed, for better or worse. Good family fare for a rainy day.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS