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The Lost Jungle (1934)
Mickey Rooney fed to lions!!! OK, maybe that didn't happen but EXTREME SPOILERS within ...
EXTREME SPOILERS!!! ------------------- EXTREME SPOILERS !!! ------------------SPOILERS!!! --------------------------------------
I pretty much went into this movie blind about what it was. I expected Sci-Fi but I got an adventure movie consisting of spliced-together serial episodes. On the one hand I was disappointed, on the other, I got a history lesson.
I thought I was in for a really interesting flick from a camera angle aspect when the very first scene was shot from the perspective of sitting on top of a circus wagon riding into town for a string of shows. How cool was that? Disappointingly, we never saw that perspective again.
This movie was undoubtedly made to take advantage of Clyde Beatty's super stardom as the World's Greatest Lion Tamer. What I really liked about the film is the opportunity to see these people of note doing what they were well known for. I have often wished I had a time machine to go back and see history in the making. Beatty and Houdini had similar body types (short but strong), boyish charm, curly hair, and good looks. It's no wonder that Hollywood created a serial around Beatty, an opportunity they didn't have with Houdini.
The plot of this movie is simple. Girl meets Beatty, but Beatty is so wrapped up in his animals that he doesn't see (after 2 years) that girl loves Beatty. Father gives girl an ultimatum. If Beatty doesn't pop the question in 15 minutes, he's sailing off to the South Pacific with daughter in tow, without Beatty. Well, Sharkey (boo, hiss), Beatty's assistant, throwing one of his many monkey wrenches into the plot, sets big bad Tommy the Lion loose on Beatty. While the 15 minutes tick by, Beatty is busy containing the beast, so the blonde gives up and sails south. Although Beatty is sad, he continues on with the circus season.
Meanwhile, daughter and Captain Daddy are ship wrecked on the island of Kamor where lions, tigers, bears, monkeys and crocs all live in disharmony. Professor Livingston, leader of the expedition, sets out through the jungle in search of help. He accidentally stumbles upon the Lost City of Kamor that contains a fabulous treasure that we never get to see. However, time passes and Livingston never returns. The Captain (Daddy) wants to set out to find him but the crew is mutinous because the wild animals (specifically, Big Sammy the Lion) have been picking them off one-by-one.
Meanwhile, Clyde Beatty's circus season is over and he wants to set off to find some more animals for his show. A carrier pigeon sends news that his girlfriend's ship has foundered on an Island and he decides to kill two birds with one stone: Rescue his sweetie and get some animals. For some strange reason he (and Sharkey, boo hiss) takes a dirigible (called, "Victory") to find her. How Beatty expected to carry lions and tigers and bears (oh, my) back to the States on a dirigible is beyond my imagination. Even landing a dirigible in a jungle is beyond my imagination, but, thanks to Sharkey, we don't have to worry about that. After a hurricane hits that leaves the dirigible floundering in space, Sharkey lets the air out when land (conveniently, the island of Kamor) is spotted.
Beatty survives the crash, as well as his dim-witted sidekick, and (boo hiss), Sharkey, who managed to grab the last (and only) parachute on the dirigible. While Beatty trudges through the jungle he hears a blonde er he hears a scream. It's his sweetie, cornered by a lion (or was it a tiger?). She runs up a tree, followed quickly by Beatty's coconut-headed sidekick. Beatty grabs a couple of sticks and tames the beast in perhaps the only time he doesn't exhibit his famous Beatty close-up hypnotic stare-down with the animals. Beatty is escorted back to the fortified camp where the shipwrecked crew is. He helps them capture Big Sammy, the fiercest lion on the Island, so that they might go out and search for Livingston.
Meanwhile, Sharkey (boo hiss) stumbles upon the Lost City of Kamor and the dying Livingston ("Water! Water!"), who tells him of the great treasure (pointing toward a pit full of crocs).
Sharkey (boo hiss) then appears at the encampment. I don't know why maybe because he realizes that he needs a weapon to deal with the crocs. Maybe it was the smell of the cook's dinner. Who knows. Nevertheless, he sneaks into a camp, releases a tiger, and while Beatty tames the tiger (who he stares down into submission), Sharkey (boo hiss) steals a rifle and attempts to tip-toe away but not before Big Sammy the Lion enjoys a nice meal out of him. Fortunately, Sammy is rewarded for his deed by being offered a spot in Beatty's Greatest Show on Earth, room and three meals a day, no hunting necessary, see the world.
At the end, Beatty finally "gets it" and in the last moment we find him kissing his girl.
Zontar: The Thing from Venus (1966)
Venus.FM now available on subscription radio ....
SPOILERS ------------------------------- I have a lot of respect for John Agar who was a real decent "B" movie actor but even he couldn't save this stinker. Instead of seeing a decent SciFi flick I saw a history lesson as I warped back to a typical 1960s house, ice bucket (for the bar), plastic furniture, open shelving and all. Shudder.
In a nutshell, Zontar (the Venetian alien) hops a ride on one of our satellites back to earth. Even though he/it claims that Venus is incredibly advanced, I guess all of the Venus-to-Earth gondolas were unavailable. Even funnier is the fact that we spent 50 million dollars to send up a satellite only to call it back to earth to check on its systems. Taxpayers revolt!!! Zontar, who is communicating with a Frankie Valle look-alike via hyperspace hypnotism, is out to take over Earth and to "save us from ourselves," and give us perfection. Zontar lands our satellite in a cave. All power stops. Cars, faucets, radios, watches, iPods just like "War of the Worlds." We next see scores of people running every which way in a small Opie-like town, but not John Agar, our hero (again, think "War of the Worlds remix), who fights against the human traffic to see what's up. Zontar, sends out little bat-birds (a.k.a. Injectapods, the ORIGINAL 'iPods') that sting humans in the back of the neck and take over their emotions. There's only one bat-bird per human, so if the bat-bird fails then that human must be killed via more traditional and human methods a handgun. Anyway, it's up to John Agar to save humanity, and it's up to you to see how he does it. Or does he? Booohahahahaha. The real hero of the movie was the misguided human's wife who goes after Zontar with a pistol.
Blooper: There was supposed to be no power anywhere but when the lady scientist woke up from a nap she asked the others if there was any coffee. When they indicated that it was gone, she was going to make some. Sigh. She didn't reach the kitchen. It's amazing how much one can scream through strangulation.
Motto of the story: Perfection can only be obtained from within ourselves, and it comes from learning, which is why many filmmakers learned to make better Scifi movies after seeing this one.