The Lost Jungle (1934)

Article #1069 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 2-17-2004
Posting Date: 7-16-2004
Directed by David Howard and Armand Schaefer
Featuring Clyde Beatty, Cecilia Parker, Syd Saylor

A noted lion tamer crash-lands on a strange island with an unusual assortment of animals; there he runs into sailors threatening to mutiny over the possession of a hidden treasure.

This serial doesn’t appear to be well liked, but I have to admit to a fondness for any serial with a good gimmick. I loved the Houdini serial THE MASTER MYSTERY because they allowed him to use the cliffhangers as excuses to do his escape routines, and this one allows Beatty to use his animal-taming tactics. The fantastic aspects here are the island itself (it was supposedly part of a strip of land that connected Africa and Asia, thus explaining the existence of wildly divergent species such as lions, tigers and bears) and Beatty’s hypnotic powers that will cause tigers to lie down. Syd Saylor is the comic relief cowardly sidekick who threatens to become annoying (he has a scared reaction that involves a bobbing bowtie and rolling eyes that is more bizarre than funny), but fortunately he doesn’t overdo his bit and actually proves to be fairly useful on occasions. The movie also has a cast of characters that I can actually tell apart, which is pretty rare for a serial. All the animals are real with the exception of the gorilla (which is a man in a suit), and I couldn’t help but note the irony that this becomes the only animal that Clyde actually kills during the course of the serial. It’s not great, but for a Mascot serial, it’s better than average.

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