Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Lost City (Sherman S. Krellberg/Super-Serial Productions, 1935)

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2013 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved

I ran Charles the first episode of an intriguing 15-chapter serial I just downloaded from The Lost City, produced by Sherman S. Krellberg for a company he owned called Super-Serials, which according to the credits was based in New York City — though The Lost City was actually filmed in Hollywood at the former Mack Sennett Studios. It’s an intriguing variant on the mad-scientist-ruling-a-lost-city trope, though it came a full year before the first Flash Gordon serial, which was similarly plotted: though the villain Zolok (William “Stage” Boyd) is working out of a so-called “magnetic mountain” in the middle of Africa rather than on another planet, he’s clearly cut from the same cloth as the Emperor Ming, and The Lost City begins with the identical plot gimmick as Flash Gordon: the bad guy is sending out energy waves that are causing shipwrecks and floods (represented by absurdly obvious model work) all over the planet, and good-guy scientist Bruce Gordon (Kane Richmond) — note the last name! — traces the source of the waves to central Africa, mounts an expedition to go there and put a stop to them. The plot is less interesting than the personnel; William “Stage” Boyd was a scapegrace actor who had been arrested for alcohol and drug possession. He also had a near-namesake, William Boyd, who had been a semi-major silent star in the late 1920’s, appearing in blockbusters for Cecil B. DeMille like The Volga Boatmen and The Yankee Clipper, and had successfully made the transition to sound — until William “Stage” Boyd got busted and the L.A. papers covered the story but illustrated it with a photo of the other William Boyd. RKO invoked the morals clause in his contract and fired him, so the good Boyd sued the bad Boyd and won a court order compelling the scapegrace Boyd to use “Stage” — in quotes — as a middle name in any subsequent films.

“Stage” Boyd died right after making The Lost City, the only film in which he was billed that way, while — what would you call him? “Screen” Boyd? — couldn’t get a job except at a cheapo “B” Western unit at Paramount that wanted him to play a character by Western writer Clarence B. Mulford named “Hopalong” Cassidy. (Mulford called him “Hopalong” because in his books the character had taken a bullet in the leg and ever after walked with a limp. Needless to say, his movie incarnation wasn’t similarly disabled.) In order to get good-Boyd to take a role so far below his previous ones, Paramount agreed to give him the TV rights to the Cassidy movies, figuring that that never would amount to much — instead it made good-Boyd a multimillionaire when TV, hungry for programming in the early days, eagerly snatched up his movie oaters and paid him well for them. But that’s not the William Boyd we’re talking here; this William Boyd turns in a full-tilt villain performance as Zolok, making the Emperor Ming seem like a Rotarian by comparison, holding hostage a great scientist named Dr. Manyus (Josek Swickard, who’d played Rudolph Valentino’s father in The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse). Zolok lured Manyus into his employ by promising him seed money to create inventions that would benefit humanity; instead he’s forced Manyus to invent incredibly evil machines that will attack humanity and enable Zolok to rule the world, and his leverage over Manyus is that he also has control over Manyus’ daughter Natacha (Claudia Dell, who played the female lead in the first version of Destry Rides Again with Tom Mix in 1932) and threatens to kill her if Manyus (essentially the Dr. Zarkov of this tale) doesn’t cooperate.

The infernal machines are actually the fabulous creations of Kenneth Strickfaden — many of them will be familiar if you’ve seen the first two Universal Frankensteins as often as I have — and though Universal rather churlishly didn’t give him screen credit, Sherman S. Krellberg did. For a “B” serial produced under independent instead of major-studio auspices, The Lost City is quite handsomely staged; the sets are substantial and quite elaborate, Harry Revier’s direction genuinely exciting and suspenseful, the script (by the usual committee: Zelma Carroll, George M. Merrick, and Robert Dillon, story; Eddie Granemann, Leon D’Usseau, and Perley Poore Sheehan, screenplay) quite imaginative — the first-chapter cliffhanger is a trap-door Zolok and his minions build into one of the caves approaching their headquarters so they can pull a switch and send Our Heroes, Bruce Gordon and his sidekick Jerry Delaney (Eric Fetherston), down a seemingly bottomless shaft, presumably to their doom — while Zolok’s plot involves capturing Black men from the jungle, putting them into a machine actually called the Brain Destroyer, then artificially enlarging them to about half again their normal size and setting them loose as zombies under Zolok’s total control. (The screams of terror the victims who are going to be put through this process issue as they’re being dragged into Zolok’s lair are genuinely frightening and way more intense than what we expect from a mid-1930’s “post-Code” movie.) Krellberg was racing to get his serial finished and into theatres before Nat Levine at Mascot released the similarly plotted The Phantom Empire (which was practically the movie world’s only science-fiction Western — the star was Gene Autry — until the recent Cowboys and Aliens), so he set up two units shooting at two different studios. More importantly, in William “Stage” Boyd’s last performance he got the performance of a lifetime; he’s one of the creepiest and most full-blooded serial villains ever, and though it’s impossible to believe that he could have ever blended in the way some serial villains did, he’s a treat to watch in an otherwise unusually well-acted serial with none of the halting first-day-of-acting-school deliveries of lines common to the genre. Though one could wish The Lost City had weathered the years a bit better, what we have of it is quite good and I eagerly look forward to additional episodes, especially since they promise to extend the dramatis personae and include some good as well as evil underground rulers. — 1/8/13


Charles and I eventually squeezed in the second episode of the 1935 serial The Lost City, “The Tunnel of Flame,” something of a misnomer since the heroes are trapped inside a tunnel at the end (as they were at the beginning; the long hole they were dropped through from the fake house in episode 1 turns out to have been a slide, delivering them into an underground prison, since the villain, mad scientist Zolok, wants them alive, not dead) but it doesn’t appear to be particularly “flaming.” It’s still a surprisingly competent piece of filmmaking, well directed by Harry Revier (who got a “signature” credit — his name across the screen in cursive script — not a common honor in the independent world then), who manages to keep the action moving fast enough we’re not concerned by the stale and hard-to-believe plot. This is turning into a quite good serial even though, as one reviewer said, it seems to have been “scripted by someone who must have been drunk out of his mind (or SOMETHING)” — hard to believe since six people are credited as writers, unless they were passing around a pipe (or bottle) filled with something incredibly strong. — 1/10/13


I showed the third episode of the serial The Lost City, “Dagger Rock.” The titling strategy on this one seems to have been to name each episode after the mortal danger the heroes (or some of them) were put in at the end in the cliffhanger sequence, though the resolution of the cliffhanger between episodes two and three was extremely disappointing: at the end of episode two heroes Bruce Gordon (Kane Richmond) and his sidekick Jerry Delaney (Eddie Fetherstone) are grabbed by one of the electronically altered Black giant/zombies the principal villain, Zadok (William “Stage” Boyd), ruler of the Lost City in the Magnetic Mountain in the middle of darkest Africa, has forced scientist Dr. Manyus (Josef Swickard) to make for him — the gimmick is that Manyus sought out Zadok for financial backing for inventions he meant to help humanity; instead Zadok took Manyus’ daughter Natcha (Claudia Dell) hostage and has used that leverage to force him to construct infernal machines with which he can conquer the world. (It occurs to me that these days Manyus would be an academic with a burning desire to make lots of money off his inventions, and Zadok would be the venture capitalist he turned to for investment capital.) At the end of episode two the Black giant has both arms across the necks of the hapless white heroes in one of those forearm choke holds police are often accused of using as a method of brutality without having to draw their guns, and it looks like curtains for our heroes — only at the start of episode three Jerry passes out from the treatment, the giant lets him go, and once Jerry recovers he’s able absurdly easily to rescue Bruce from the giant just before the giant was supposed to hurl him into the “Tunnel of Flame” (actually a sort of closet with one of Kenneth Strickfaden’s electrical gadgets in full operation, apparently ready to electrocute anyone who dared step through the door). Despite that disappointment, The Lost City is rather fun, as in this episode Dr. Manyus and his daughter Natcha (not “Natacha,” Natcha!) are being pursued not only by Bruce and Jerry but also by Reynolds (Ralph Lewis) and Colton (William Millman), two more prosaic baddies than Zadok who want to capture Manyus so they can take him back to the Western world and exploit his inventions for his own enrichment. There’s also a “freeze gun” Manyus has invented which instantly neutralizes electrical current and therefore allows him and other characters to pass safely through the doorways Zadok has booby-trapped with electrical current, though the actual prop we see is disappointing — like the 1930’s version of a Coleman lantern that producer Sherman S. Krellberg’s prop man must have bought at a department store — and a really silly sequence in which Zadok is accidentally trapped in his own dungeon but the two people in the cell with him do nothing to neutralize him or take him hostage. The ending is cool, though — Manyus, Reynolds and Colton have escaped the Lost City, only Manyus is captured by the natives and he’s put under the “Dagger Rock,” literally a rock with daggers stuck into it, with which they intend to kill him by crushing him with it so he’s impaled on the daggers and then squashed to pancake thinness by the rock. — 1/14/13


Charles and I screened episode four of the serial The Lost City, an intriguing independent film from Sherman S. Krellberg’s Super-Serial Company (like most of the majors, the financial and business end was run out of New York City but the film itself was shot in Hollywood); the fourth episode was called “Doomed!” (each episode’s title seems to have come from the cliffhanger at the end) and it began with a really annoying resolution of the cliffhanger in episode three. Instead of the heroes rescuing Dr. Manyus (Josef Swickard) from the peril of Dagger Rock (a.k.a. the Torture Stone), it’s the villain Zadok (William “Stage” Boyd, top-billed) who sends out his strong man Appollyn (Jerry Frank, easily the hottest piece of man-meat in this film) and his electronically enlarged Black giant Hugo (Sam Baker, whose visual introduction in the prologue to the first three chapters had been almost defiantly racist: he emits an apelike wail and his huge mouth opens and bares its teeth like a real ape about to go into combat) go out and save Manyus because Zadok wants him alive to invent more infernal machines to fulfull Zadok’s dream of world conquest. There’s a conflict between the slave trader Butterfield (George “Gabby” Hayes, surprisingly effective as a secondary villain!) and the not-quite-so-mean-but-still-corrupt Prof. Reynolds (Ralph Lewis) and Dr. Colton (William Millman) — Reynolds and Colton wanted to kidnap Manyus and take him back to civilization so they can profit from his inventions; Butterfield incited the natives (who are as stupid as Blacks generally were in Hollywood’s movies of the time) to capture Manyus and kill him with the Torture Stone; and there’s been precious little of Kenneth Strickfaden’s cool electronic equipment in this one as the various factions, including at least three villains that got to come along on Bruce Gordon’s expedition (didn’t he bother to vet these people?), chase each other around the cheesy “jungle” locations that are all producer Krellberg and his director, Harry Revier, could afford — though Revier is several cuts above the hacks who usually directed serials: he not only keeps the action moving but manages to pace this film so fast that it’s only afterwards that you start realizing how many plot holes there are. One that Charles did spot immediately was that Hugo was still alive, moving and very much participating as Zadok’s zombie even though we’d seen him pushed through an electrical door and vaporized in an earlier episode — though Zadok could have created more than one giant and Krellberg could have simply had Sam Baker play all of them. — 1/16/13


Charles and I watched the next episode in sequence — number six — of the 1935 serial The Lost City, which has got considerably less interesting now that the last two episodes (and most of the immediately previous one) have taken place outside the Lost City itself, a high-tech redoubt in the middle of Africa powered by the “Magnetic Mountain” and ruled by the serial’s principal villain, Zolok (William “Stage” Boyd). At least inside the Lost City you got to marvel at Kenneth Strickfaden’s magnificent electronic gadgets — this film was made right after The Bride of Frankenstein and much of Baron Frankenstein’s lab equipment appears here as well — and also savor the wonderfully overacted performance of Boyd, who’d been forced to take “Stage” (in quotes) as his middle name after his drinking, drugging, carousing and other antics had got the other William Boyd (the one who played Hopalong Cassidy) fired from a contract with RKO. (This was “Stage” Boyd’s last film; after it was finished the drinking, drugging and carousing caught up with him and left him dead at age 45.) Episode six, “Human Beasts,” features yet another rather dorky cliffhanger (for a serial with six writers the cliffhangers are oddly unimaginative, though I must say that they haven’t yet used the Republic gimmick of having the hero or heroine escape danger by simply jumping — I’ve already commented that anyone who’d seen a Republic serial could have figured out how to do a sequel to Thelma and Louise: just before the car went over the cliff, they jumped out of it), though the end of cliffhanger five was marvelous for the cause of feminism: Natcha Manyus (Claudia Dell) managed to use the propelling stick of her raft to fight the tiger that was menacing her. (This scene rubbed me a bit the wrong way because it had been my impression that tigers, like most cats, don’t willingly go into water and swim. It rubbed Charles even more the wrong way because the only places tigers exist naturally are in Asia; unlike lions, there are no native African tigers.)

This episode was pretty much more running around and more human skullduggery between the good guys — hero Bruce Gordon (Kane Richmond), his sidekick Jerry Delaney (Eddie Fetherstone), Natcha (not Natacha, Natcha!) Manyus and her super-scientist father, Dr. Manyus (Josef Swickard) — and the bad guys, who seem to be the entire rest of the dramatis personae, a mix of mad rulers, Arabs, Blacks and whites including slave trader Butterfield, played by George “Gabby” Hayes in the most anti-“type” role he probably ever played — though the presence of a slave trader in 1930’s Africa seems dreadfully anachronistic — as well as renegade scientists Reynolds and Colton, played by Ralph Lewis and William Millman, respectively, and Arab leader Sheikh Ben Ali, played by Gino Corrado. The other actors seemed at a loss to decide on a common pronunciation of Ben Ali’s name — at one point they were pronouncing it “Ah-LYE” instead of the usual “Ah-LEE” — and director Harry Revier, who was quite good on the sets of the Lost City, seemed at a loss how to hold the film together and pace it effectively once he got outside and had to deal with an enormous amount of stock footage and those annoying Black zombie giants. Hugo (Sam Baker) is the only one of the giants with a specific actor playing him, though I suspect Baker played more than one of the giants (and I’m trying to figure out where his real body ended and all the stilts and pads and whatnot began — the script called for the giant to wear a grass skirt but otherwise be naked, and it’s obviously a lot harder to build someone up to make them look larger when they’re mostly unclothed than when they’re clothed — still the effect, especially on a rather murky original print, was convincing enough that for a while I wondered if they simply found an uncommonly large Black person to play the part!), and they’re just not all that interesting as menaces. The most interesting parts of The Lost City are the Strickfaden devices, “Stage” Boyd’s vividly campy overacting, and the sheer weirdness of the plot, as if the six writers put all the traditional serial clichés on strips of paper, drew them at random from a bag, and typed them out in the order in which they pulled them. This is one of those films you forgive for not making any sense because you get the impression it was never supposed to! — 1/18/13


Charles and I watched episodes seven and eight of The Lost City, “Spider Men” and “Human Targets,” and lamented once again how the quality and interest of this serial has really nose-dived since episode four, when the action left the Lost City and the center of the plot shifted from the super-villain Zadok (William “Stage” Boyd) to more commonplace baddies like renegade scientists Reynolds (Ralph Lewis) and Colton (William Millman), both members of the expedition organized by the hero, Bruce Gordon (Kane Richmond, at the start of a career spent mostly in serials and action “B”’s); along with slave-trader Butterfield (George “Gabby” Hayes, usually a comic sidekick in Westerns!); Arab Sheikh Ben Ali (who wants to capture Professor Manyus, the Dr. Zarkov equivalent played by Josef Swickard, so Manyus can convert the Black natives to eight-foot super-giants and he can use them as slaves); and, finally introduced in Chapter Eight, Queen Rama (billed variously as Margot Duse and Margot D’use, with the apostrophe — I had wondered if she was a relative of the legendary late-19th century Italian actress Eleanora Duse, but almost certainly not). It’s not sure what she’s queen of, exactly, but she’s at least an interesting character and one reviewer of The Lost City suggested that she came closer to genuine acting than anyone else in this serial. That’s actually being unfair to William “Stage” Boyd,” whose strident villainy gets awfully hammy at times and who hasn’t had the screen time he deserves in the later episodes, but he’s still eminently watchable — as is his hunchbacked assistant (do all movie mad scientists have to have hunchbacked assistants? Actually, no, but the most memorable ones all seem to) Gorzo — played by William Bletcher, who seems to be patterning his performance on Dwight Frye’s in Dracula and Frankenstein. (There are certainly worse models!)

Through most of the middle episodes all we see of Zadok is him standing at his television receiver (in the mid-1930’s television was still an experimental gadget, and when it appeared in films like Murder by Television and Trapped by Television it was as a novelty high-tech item) and barking orders by radio to his minions outside the Lost City, Gorzo and Appollyn (Jerry Frank, who goes about in half-gladiator, half-Tarzan drag and is by far the hottest-looking male in the film!). Charles was amused to see Appollyn plug a metal rod from his radio receiver into the earth before taking Zadok’s call — obviously he was making sure it was grounded! Alas, without Zadok (and “Stage” Boyd’s viscerally exciting acting of him — in a film that was pretty obviously, shall we say, inspired by the Flash Gordon comics even though Flash Gordon wouldn’t be filmed, also as a serial, for another year, it’s not surprising that he comes off so much like Charles Middleton’s Emperor Ming), the Lost City and the cool electric devices by Kenneth Strickfaden that represent Manyus’s super-high-tech inventions with which Zadok hopes to rule the world, The Lost City has pretty much degenerated into just another jungle shoot-’em-up, and the cheapness of the budget is working itself out into some pretty tacky effects, notably the “giant spider” that’s supposed to menace the good guys at the end of episode seven and which is merely done by superimposing shots of a normal-sized spider onto the image of the people standing behind a giant fake web. — 1/19/13


Charles and I went home and watched episode 10, “The Lion Pit,” of the bizarre 1935 serial The Lost City. The principal villain, Zadok — played by the infamous wastrel William “Stage” Boyd, whose pattern of drink, drugs and general dissipation made John Barrymore look like a temple-qualified Mormon by comparison — seems to have virtually disappeared after the third or fourth episode, more’s the pity, and as we’ve watched the increasingly dull episodes taking place in the jungle outside the Lost City Zadok rules, I’m beginning to wonder if Boyd was taking some spectacular falls off the wagon during the shoot, making himself unavailable or unable to work and forcing the serial’s six writers to rework their story around his absence. The character of Queen Rama of the Wangas (Margot D’Use), introduced in chapter eight, has become more important in subsequent episodes because the writers and director Harry Revier (who, like the writers, also seemed a lot more turned on by the Lost City as a setting than by the jungle around it, regarding which the writers just recycled all the Tarzan movie clichés — only instead of a good-guy jungle man the hot half-clad hunk of man-meat, Appollyn [Jerry Frank], is one of the baddies, one of Zadok’s minions along with hunchbacked Gorzo [William Bletcher], who seems to be the brains behind Zadok’s throne) needed a bravura villain to take Boyd’s place.

It’s hard to explain why this serial’s reviewer, who used the screen name “earlytalkie,” called D’Use “the only element of good acting” in this film when to me she seems to be screaming her performance start to finish, going even farther over the top than the relatively restrained “Stage” Boyd (whose performance, at least what there’s been of it, is on the same level as Charles Middleton’s finely honed work as the Emperor Ming in the Flash Gordon serials). Predictably she first attempts to seduce the hero, Bruce Gordon (Kane Richmond, who developed into a reliable action hero in his later serials but here seems to be just along for the ride — all too often it’s the villains who have to rescue him from the cliffhangers! — and, when he says no, she drugs his drink and then captures Natcha Manyus (Claudia Dell), whom she rightly surmises is the woman Bruce is turning her down for, and throws her into the titular lion pit that supplied the episode’s name. The Lost City had a promising beginning but is turning into the usual serial dreck, and the absence of a musical score during the big action scenes isn’t helping either — though the music we do hear over the opening and closing credits is cheesy enough that perhaps the underscoring available to Revier and his producer, Sherman S. Krellberg, wouldn’t have been any better. It’s been all too many episodes since we’ve seen either the interior of the Lost City, William “Stage” Boyd doing anything but tuning his TV system so he can watch the outside action, or Kenneth Strickfaden’s cool electronic devices (many of which had just been used in The Bride of Frankenstein by a director, James Whale, who actually knew what to do with them!), and we can only hope based on the titles of the last two chapters, “The Death Ray” and “The Mad Scientist,” that we’ll at least get a spectacular finish that takes out Zadok and the Lost City but at least gives us some more look-sees of them! — 1/22/13


Charles and I had finally finishes screening the quite interesting serial The Lost City two nights ago, watching episodes 11 and 12, “Death Ray” and “The Mad Scientist.” A lot of serials had odd lacunae and an overall airy indifference to the whole idea of continuity, but the ending of The Lost City — indeed, the last three episodes all told — took that aspect of serial-making to extremes even for an indie operator like Sherman S. Krellberg and his “Super-Serials Productions.” The Lost City is a quite good serial for its first four episodes or so, which actually take place in the Lost City itself, a super-high-tech bastion of mad scientist Zadok (William “Stage” Boyd) whose using its advanced electronic gear (actually built by Kenneth Strickfaden, who designed and built most of the gadgetry for Universal’s early-1930’s horror films and was savvy enough to retain ownership and simply rent it to Universal, Columbia, Republic or any other company that wanted it). In The Lost City we can see clearly recognizable machines from The Bride of Frankenstein and other Universal classics, and the Death Ray in episode 11 was quite obviously the “moon lamp” Henry Hull used to get the Mariphaisa lumina lupina flower to bloom in The Werewolf of London, though its beam is surprisingly laser-like. Indeed, the scene in which Zadok straps hero Bruce Gordon (Kane Richmond) to a metal table and uses the laser to kill him by literally burning his body into two halves with his light beam was copied almost exactly 29 years later in the James Bond film Goldfinger! The continuity breaches get weirder and weirder — and so do the resolutions of the cliffhangers; at the start of episode 11 Gordon, blinded by a drugged drink given him by villainous Queen Rama (Margot D’Use) of the Wangas, is led to the site where Rama is about to drop heroine Natcha Manyus (Claudia Dell) into a pit filled with lethally hungry lions by Rama’s lady-in-waiting, who’s turned against her, and he manages to rescue Natcha despite the minor little detail that he can’t see.

The printed foreword to episode 11 references that Gordon and Rama were planning their wedding when Rama, suspecting that Gordon wasn’t going to go through with it, drugged him — there was no sign of such a scene in episode 10, where it just looked like that nasty dark-haired Rama was trying to seduce Our Hero from his good, upstanding, white blonde girlfriend (though it’s possible the Production Code struck after episode 10 was released and insisted the producers bowdlerize the explanation of what had happened in that episode even while leaving the released footage of episode 10 intact). The film also depends for its resolution on some really bizarre moral reversals; the scummy slave-trader Butterfield suddenly becomes a good guy when Natcha’s father, Professor Manyus (Josef Swickard), rescues him, and he mobilizes his Black army to defeat Rama’s in the nick of time to save Gordon, Natcha and Manyus. (He also figures out how to make an antidote to restore Gordon’s sight.) What’s more, he’s followed in this convenient redemption by Zadok’s hunchbacked assistant Gorzo (William Bletcher), who changes sides in episode 11 and joins forces with the good guys to lock Zadok in his own prison — only Zadok has what looks like a miniature acetylene torch with him and burns through the door of the cell, but instead of actually using the machines of the Lost City (which, remember from the exposition to episode one, can actually cause earthquakes and floods thousands of miles away!) he stumbles through the Lost City sets and ultimately gets the whole place to blow up. I’d conjectured that Zadok’s virtual disappearance in the last two-thirds of this serial might have had something to do with the bad habits of the actor playing him — William “Stage” Boyd was infamous throughout Hollywood for drinking, drugging and probably a lot of other things the papers of the time didn’t dare mention, and his bad habits caught up to him when he died at age 45 shortly after making this film; and in the last scenes he gets in the final episode of The Lost City he looks drunk and/or stoned, shambling around the Lost City sets and talking to himself in a monologue that clearly indicates he’s delivering his lines in an unpleasantly altered state of consciousness.

A contributor to said that producer Krellberg was rushing to get The Lost City released before Mascot’s (later Republic) similarly plotted serial The Phantom Empire, so much so that he had three separate production units filming at once so he could get the movie finished in 21 days instead of the scheduled 35 — but as far as the two films are concerned quality-wise, there’s no contest: Kane Richmond and Gene Autry are equally anodyne as heroes but “The Scientific City of Murania” in The Phantom Empire is even more striking and impressive than the Lost City (which, Charles was convinced, was just some old sets representing the interior of a ship, tricked out with Strickfaden’s spectacular equipment), and the queen in Phantom Empire is that rarity in a serial, a truly multidimensional character and a figure of genuine pathos, rather than the cardboard villain Rama is. I’ve read The Lost City described as a camp-fest, which it is some of the time — especially when “Stage” Boyd (who had to use that middle name so he wouldn’t be confused with the other William Boyd, the one who’d played leads for DeMille in the silent era and did the Hopalong Cassidy Western series from 1935 to 1949) is on screen, front and center, creating an all-out serial villain to rival the Emperor Ming in Flash Gordon — though at other junctures it’s too boring and clichéd even to achieve camp greatness; director Harry Revier (who, with co-cinematographer Roland Price, went on from this production to do something even weirder, the semi-documentary Lash of the Penitentes) tries his best to keep it fast-paced and exciting, but the script by a six-person committee (Zelma Carroll, George Merrick and Robert Dillon, story; Eddie Granemann, Leon D’Usseau and Perley Poore Sheridan, script) pretty much defeats him, especially in those long stretches in the jungle where nothing much happen except the heroes are periodically menaced by badly made Black people (or white people in blackface) portraying indigenous malevolence in the approved booga-booga style. The Lost City is one of those bad movies that you can’t forget! — 1/24/13