LOST CITY OF THE JUNGLE (1946)
Article 1940 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-7-2006
Posting Date: 12-4-2006
Directed by Lewis D. Collins and Ray Taylor
Featuring Russell Hayden, Jane Adams, Lionel Atwill
An agent from the United Peace Foundation is sent to the isolated province of Pendrang to find out if a man named Geoffrey Wood (believed deceased) is really a warmonger known as Sir Eric Hazarias. This turns out to be true, and Hazarias is in Pendrang to try to locate a rare element that will allow him to create a defense to the atomic bomb, a device that would give any nation the power to take over the world.
There’s a very curious plot device to this serial; despite the fact that the main bad guy is supposed to be the Atwill character (Sir Eric Hazarias), he claims that his secretary Malborn (John Mylong, the fatherly scientist in ROBOT MONSTER) is the actual leader and brains behind the outfit. With this plot set-up, I was preparing myself for a specific twist – namely, that Malborn would turn out to be the real Sir Eric Hazarias, and that the Atwill character would turn out to be a decoy of some sort. However, events in chapter 12 proved me incorrect, and so I was left wondering what the reason was for this odd plot device.
However, IMDB lists one piece of trivia about the serial which provides a clue as to why this happened. Lionel Atwill was ill during the filming and died of bronchial cancer. This would explain the odd structure; if he was unable to shoot certain scenes, the device of having another man who was actually in charge would allow him to substitute for Atwill in a number of scenes. This makes more sense to me than the other explanation I had, as it seemed to me to be a little too clever for the type of plot that serials usually have. Still, this strange plot set-up fueled my curiosity about what the final revelations would be, and it may have made the serial a little more interesting to me than it otherwise would have been. Still, I did like the fact that the leader of Pendrang (a woman called Indra) was one of those characters that could end up siding with either hero or villain. There’s also a significant amount of fantastic content in this one, including a device that can destroy buildings through sound vibrations, and the deadly radioactive element Meteorium which can disintegrate anyone who looks at it unless they’re wearing protective garb. The serial also features Keye Luke and Gene Roth.