Universal's 16th sound-era serial (following "The Jungle Mystery" and preceding "Clancy of the Mounted", both starring Tom Tyler) was based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story (loosely adapted), and opens with a special train carrying gold bullion from the Golconda Mine, that is stopped by henchmen, working secretly for Sam Slater (J. Frank Glendon), partner of Potter Hood (Francis Ford), in the mine ownership. Laying down portable tracks, the bandits take the train off of the main line, hide it in an abandoned mine shaft, steal the gold, and pick up their make-shift tracks, leaving a mystery in their wake. Potter's son Tom Hood (Frank Albertson), just home from college, determines to solve the mystery with the aid of his pal Bob Collins (football great Ernie Nevers.) They board the gold-shipment special train on its next run. Newspaper reporter Betty Moore (Cecilia Parker)and her friend Kate Bland (Caryl Lincoln)are in a car driving along a road that parallels the train tracks, ...Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CHAPTER TITLES: 1. The Lost Special; 2. Racing Death; 3. The Red Lantern; 4. Devouring Flames; 5. The Lightning Strikes; 6. The House of Mystery; 7. The Tank Room Terror; 8. The Fatal Race; 9. Into the Depths; 10. The Jaws of Death; 11. The Flaming Forest; 12. Retribution. See more »
Researching the origins of the TV serial "Lost", I bought a DVD transcript from a somewhat deteriorated print of this movie serial, now in the public domain. Fans of "Lost" will recognize several scenes and themes from this movie serial which were not in the original story or its other adaptations, which were recreated either literally or at some degree of abstraction in the TV serial. I laughed out loud at that. However, if you're not interested in how one screen production can cutely allude to others, or looking for clues to the mystery (if you even believe there was a mystery) of "Lost", then this adaptation, the loosest by that name that I've researched so far out of many in various media, of "The Lost Special", will probably not hold much interest for you. It does hold a bit of a mystery (albeit somewhat telegraphed for mystery fans) even for those familiar with the original story, and the plot overall is fairly decent, and some of the acting is excellent. However, it does stretch out the story and scenes as typical of a movie serial, and it has the worst stunt fights I could imagine. I've seen serials with excellent stunt fighting that stands up well even to slow-motion scrutiny, but in "The Lost Special" their blows miss by miles, the sound track represents punches by drumrolls, and they're drawn out to boot. There are also the usual far-fetched plot devices to produce silly cliffhangers.
The gimmick casting of Ernie Nevers as a Princeton U. football player works out about as well or badly as you'd expect. However, the other leads are good. The ending moved me to tears, and not only because of my recognizing its relationship to "Lost", so it's not a total loss from 6 hours of viewing.
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