After a series of electrical storms disrupts the world, electrical engineer Bruce Gordon develops a machine to trace the cause of the disasters. He discovers that the source is in central Africa and, backed by the nations of the world, sets out on an expedition. Bruce learns that the disturbances emanate from an area called the Magnetic Mountain. But unknown to our hero and his pal Jerry, the Magnetic Mountain also contains a super-advanced secret city ruled by the tyrannical scientific wizard named Zolok, who has unleashed the electrical fury threatening civilization as part of his plan to conquer the world. Zolok has under his control a brilliant inventor, Manyus, Manyus' beautiful daughter Natcha and an army of giant African slaves, who follow the dictates of a strongman, Appolyn, and Gorza, a dwarf. Also in the mix are schemers Reynolds and Colton, who plan to capture Manyus and thereby gain control of Zolok's army, and a double-crossing fellow explorer named Butterfield. Can ... Written by
Fiona Kelleghan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
It was made fairly cheaply but does have some impressive sets and occasionally decent effects. But the writing and the acting are all terrible.
Kane Richmond is bland as the square-jawed hero. Claudia Dell seems miscast as the love interest; although she was only 26 she looks 40ish and plain. She has an overall prim, quavering, schoolmarmish air that's rather off putting. Jerry Frank as Apollyn is easy on the eyes in his gold lame shorts and little else. He helps rise this serial to a certain level of homo erotic camp.
The serial belongs to William "Stage" Boyd as mad scientist Zolok. He camps it up hilariously, although obviously meant to be serious. His final scenes are strangely effective; I'm told he was actually roaring drunk during the filming of those scenes which makes his final madness seem more effective. He died not long after completing this serial, making this an odd obituary.
The story? Well, Zolok is menacing the world from a lost city in Africa, once inhabited by a highly advanced race of which Zolok is the last member. He has hunky Apollyn and a twisted hunchback as assistants, and also has a captive scientist who has the requisite "lovely" daughter (Dell). Richmond goes to stop him and runs afoul of one trap after another, as well as Zolok's army of mindless black giants, and the queen of an African tribe who a) falls for Richmond and b) wants to be white.
Yup, this serial is morbidly racist. Quite a bit of plot hinges on the scientists' ability to turn black people white; at one point it's done and the subject jumps and leaps about with glee. When the Queen proposes marriage to Richmond, he smiles smugly and says, "Oh, I'm afraid that's out of the question."
Some audiences may find THE LOST CITY unpalatable, but it must be bourne in mind that it's a product of less-enlightened times (MUCH less enlightened). I view it not as a serious racial statement but just a reflection of the limited psyches of those involved.
It's actually pretty fun if you make the campiness of it part of the deal. I understand this was actually considered quite old-fashioned and out-of-date when it was released in 1935, making it a true oddity. See it and enjoy, but you were warned...
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