Beatty and the Beasts
Movie Lover: Old movie fan
-- June, 14, 2008
Clyde Beatty was the top animal trainer of his time with a dramatic whip-cracking, guns firing blanks, style. THE LOST JUNGLE is designed to showcase his talents. Beatty plays himself as an animal trainer who ends up marooned on a lost jungle island. Beatty was no actor, but he comes across as an extremely likable man with an infectious smile, and also as endearingly dorky. His scenes with the huge lions and tigers are the real thing and I found them fascinating. Beatty and the beasts are pretty much the whole show, although he was in excellent shape and throws himself whole-heartedly into all the action. He obviously did many of his fight scenes without a double and is most convincing.
The remote island contains a very atmospheric lost city within which is a lurking gorilla and a crocodile pit, as well as a treasure. A "find the treasure and then who's got the treasure" plot pads out the serial. None of the plot convolutions are very compelling, serving mainly as an armature on which to hang the animal scenes. There is a whole bestiary on display, and even though some scenes appear to have been filmed on a sound stage in front of potted plants,
they do manage to create a robust jungle atmosphere.
The rest of the cast supports Beatty well. Cecilia Parker is a strikingly pretty heroine who plays well with the shy Clyde. Mickey Rooney and George Hayes have interesting early cameos. Syd Saylor and his bobbing Adam's Apple provide repetitious comic refief. Warner Richmond and Wheeler Oakman give their all as the villians but don't make that much of an impression, probably because the lions, tigers, crocodiles, and the gorilla, are so much more menacing. It is very difficult for even the baddest bad guy to seem dangerous next to this competition.
All in all, I found this a lot of fun and highly recommend it to anyone who likes old jungle movies.