Directed by Irwin Allen
Based on The Lost World Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Written by Charles Bennett and Irwin Allen
Starring Michael Rennie, Jill St. John, David Hedison, Claude Rains, Richard Haydn, Ray Stricklyn, Fernando Lamas, and Vitina Marcus
The conceit of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World is enthralling. Explorers discover a region that stands apart from the modern world, where evolution stood still; a place where tribes battled apes—sure, he was ripping off Jules Verne to some extent, but who didn’t? And it is Doyle’s title that we use to describe plots that involve isolated pockets of prehistoric life. It’s been filmed many times but only once was it done by the master of disaster, director and producer Irwin Allen.
Irwin Allen was a producer and director most known for fantastical science-fiction television shows like Lost in Space, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and Land of the Giants as well as a string of disaster movies including The Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure. For over three decades he thrilled audiences young and old, in their living rooms and in theaters.
I grew up watching his programs in re-run and catching his movies when they came to television. Let me tell you, there’s nothing as frustrating to a kid as waiting through a commercial to see if your favorite aging celebrity would escape fire, flood, or killer bees! His work was a big part of developing my initial entertainment preferences, years before I discovered the joys of cult horror films.
I’d put aside the Irwin Allen canon for decades, but seeing the movie Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea on a 2-fer with Fantastic Voyage a few years ago reignited my passion, and I’ve been enthusiastically rediscovering his productions ever since.
So I dedicate this month to the films of Irwin Allen. Prepare to see an awful lot of moist celebrities!
The Lost World (1960)
Recommended Irwin Allen Films
The Lost World (1960)
Mite-y Movie Mention
Mysterious Island (1961)
Action, adventure, science fiction
Based on The Mysterious Island by Jules Verne. (Sequel to both Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and In Search of the Castaways.)
Castaways fight giant animals and pirates with the help of Captain Nemo while trying to escape before the island’s volcano erupts.
Reasons to Watch
- Harryhausen creature effects
- Joan Greenwood
- Herbert Lom
Although based on a Jules Verne novel, the giant creatures came in by way of H.G. Welles’ The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth. Nemo is trying to solve world hunger through enlarging food sources, a common misconception about the motivation of the scientists in that book. This is an ironic combination of plots, as Verne despised the lack of scientific basis in Welles’ stories.