Lost City of the Jungle is a 1946 film serial produced by Universal.
The "United Peace Federation" is a private organization, founded by a deceased billionaire, dedicated to the prevention of war and to stopping "warmongers". One of those warmongers is Sir Eric Hazarias (Lionel Atwill), an arms dealer, a friend of fascists, and an all-around bad guy. Sir Eric is in pursuit of "Meteorium-245", a rare element that (somehow) will allow whoever has it to successfully defend themselves against atomic bombs. The UPF is determined to stop Sir Eric, so they send their best man, agent Rod Stanton, in pursuit.
Stanton sees Sir Eric's car go plunging off a cliff, but has suspicions that Sir Eric isn't really dead. He's right, as the man in the car was an impostor. The real Sir Eric, who has adopted the alias of Geoffrey London, is off to the fictional not-Tibet country of Zalabar, north of the Himalayas, to find meteorium. His plot involves the archaeological expedition of one Dr. Elmore, who is searching for an ancient "lost city" believed to be somewhere in Zalabar. Dr. Elmore has no idea that Hazarias is using him and his expedition for an evil plot. Stanton and the UPF for their part have no idea that Sir Eric is not really in charge of the bad guys, and that in fact his "secretary" Malburn is the real boss of the operation.
Rod Stanton goes flying off to the Himalayas in pursuit. Coming with him is Stanton's pretty daughter Marjorie, who also has no idea of Hazarias's evil plot and is simply hitching a ride. Much derring-do and many exciting cliffhangers ensue.
Lost City of the Jungle ran for thirteen half-hour episodes. It was the next-to-last film serial produced by Universal, as the rise of television would soon make film serials obsolete.
- As You Know: A lot of this in the opening in a scene where a vaguely European type is talking with the UPF. Much dialogue establishing that, yes, the United Peace Federation was established by an old billionaire and, yes, Sir Eric is a bad guy.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: The natives concoct a particularly cruel punishment for Rod in which they put him on a very narrow platform atop a tall pole, below which is a pit full of hungry lions. And then they leave, allowing Tal Shan to show up and rescue him.
- Booby Trap:
- In Episode 6 the entrance to the tomb of the Glowing Goddess is protected by a hidden spring in the steps. A Mook puts his foot on the step and triggers a death trap in which poison gas is pumped into the chamber. He dies. Rod Stanton follows and does the same thing, and is himself being overcome by the gas when the episode ends on the cliffhanger-of-the-week.
- In Episode 10, "Booby Trap Rendezvous", instead of lying in wait for Rod Stanton at the expedition headquarters and shooting him In the Back, the bad guys set up a booby trap with a charge of dynamite and a box precariously mounted to fall on the detonator. A brawl ensues when Stanton arrives while the mook's back is turned.
- Born In The Theater: Each episode except for the last one ends with a promo saying that the next episode will be in the same theater next weekend.
- Cliffhanger: As with standard serial format, there is a cliffhanger at the end of every episode. The first episode ends with Rod and Marjorie stuck in the Himalayas after they had to make an emergency landing, as an avalanche rumbles down.
- Complexity Addiction: The bad guys blow up the Pool of Light in the hope that Rod and Tal Shan will be killed in the blast or flood. Instead of, say, ambushing them in an alley and shooting them.
- Dirty Cop: Hammond, the police chief of Pendrang, is in league with Indra and Sir Eric. When Indra starts to shift her allegiance to the good guys, Hammond throws in his lot with Sir Eric, and Indra has him killed.
- Every Car Is a Pinto:
- In Episode 1, the car carrying the fake Sir Eric Hazarias bursts into flame in classic movie fashion after careening off a cliff.
- And in Episode 13 Rod and Tal Shan's car explodes after falling about ten feet off the side of a cliff, but luckily our heroes jumped clear.
- Fake Shemp: A double was used to complete some scenes after the death of Lionel Atwill, sometimes in disguise as Geoffrey London, sometimes shot from behind or from a distance. In Episode 4, an entire scene with Geoffrey London in the casino is done with other characters talking to the double, who is shot from behind, with awkward insertions of the same closeup of Lionel Atwill's face. The conference between Sir Eric's gang and the natives in episode 11 is shot with similarly awkward shots of Atwill in closeup, with his body double carefully hidden by other actors in other shots.
- Faking the Dead: Apparently by accident. The presumed death of the fake Sir Eric Hazarias in a car crash (it was a double) leads to the real Sir Eric Hazarias seizing on this chance to go to the Himalayas under the identity of "Geoffrey London".
- Fictional Country: "Zalabar", a country north of the Himalayas that has a vaguely Bhutan/Nepal/Tibet feel.
- Film Serial: Thirteen episodes. Each episode except for the last one has an announcement that there will be a new episode next week.
- Heroes "R" Us: The United Peace Federation, a privately-funded group of do-gooders working for peace, who chase after bad guys like Sir Eric.
- High-Class Glass: Sir Eric does this when in his "Geoffrey London" persona.
- His Name Is...: The agents of the UPF suspect that "Geoffrey London" is really Sir Eric. Ringo, the pilot who took Sir Eric to Zalabar is actually a UPF agent. His contacts are grilling him about whether or not Sir Eric resembles Geoffrey. Ringo says no, "except for one little thing," and right then he is shot and killed by Sir Eric's agent.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The mook who sets up the booby trap for Rod at the end of Episode 10 winds up in a fistfight with Rod when the latter arrives before the former can leave. The mook punches Rod through the open front door, steps forward, triggers his own trip wire, and blows himself up.
- "If My Calculations Are Correct", says Dr. Elmore, the clues to the location of the Lost City of the Jungle are in a certain cavern. (How do you calculate something like that?)
- Incredibly Obvious Bug: In Episode 8 Marjorie plants a listening device in Sir Eric's headquarters. How does she do this? By taking the bug, which is the size of a large beer can, and simply dropping it on a couch next to a cushion, where it sits in plain view.
- Jungle Drums:
- The Natives Are Restless, so they start beating the jungle drums after the temple of Pendrang is destroyed in Episode 4. Soon, Stanton is captured and thrown to the lions.
- The natives are restless in episode 10 as well, when Sir Eric and the gang show up in their territory, so they start beating the Jungle Drums again. Sir Eric has the sacred tablet so they accept him, but when Rod Stanton shows up with no prize, they stick him in a guillotine trap.
- The Killer Was Left-Handed: Rod suspected from the beginning that the man who died in the car crash was not Sir Eric, because before the car flew off the cliff, he saw that Sir Eric lit a cigar with his left hand while Sir Eric is right-handed.
- Lost World: A legendary lost city somewhere north of the Himalayas. Dr. Elmore is searching for it; the bad guys are using his expedition as a scheme to really find the meteorium.
- MacGuffin: "Meteorium", the fictional element that would allow a country to defend itself from atomic bombs. Sir Eric and Malburn want to sell it to bad guys while the UPF is determined to stop them. It turns out that the meteorium is in an ancient statue of "the Glowing Goddess" in the lost city.
- Made of Explodium: Sir Eric's goons destroy the temples of Pendrang, bringing them crashing to the ground, by—beaming radiation at them. It's even funnier soon after when they refer to "sonic vibrations" as having destroyed the temples.
- The Man Behind the Man: Malburn, the "secretary" to Sir Eric Hazarias, is the real mastermind. He makes it clear to his underlings in Zalabar that when they are reporting to Sir Eric, they are really reporting to him.
- Mighty Whitey: It turns out that Indra, the really sexy white lady who owns the "Light of Asia" casino in Pendrang, is actually the ruler of the whole of Zalabar. Apparently the locals are perfectly willing to let a hot white woman run their country.
- Once an Episode: Every episode starts with the representatives of the United Peace Federation in San Francisco briefly discussing the situation, establishing the premise in the first episode and catching viewers up thereafter. Then the scene cuts to Pendrang and the actual story.
- Opening Scroll: This trope was made famous by Star Wars but it dates back to film serials of this era. In this particular instance the scroll is used only for the opening credits.
- Poke in the Third Eye: In Episode 8, once the bad guys detect the listening device in their headquarters, they stage a conversation in order to misdirect Rod Stanton to the House of the Beggars in pursuit of the kidnapped Dr. Elmore.
- Ragnarök Proofing: God only knows how long the hidden step poison gas trap in Episode 6 was just sitting there, but it works like a charm when a Mook and Rod Stanton enter.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Lionel Atwill (Sir Eric) was very sick with cancer when this serial was being filmed. He died before shooting was finished. The producers, not willing to start over or waste their footage of big star Lionel Atwill, re-jiggered the plot. Malburn, who originally was just supposed to be Sir Eric's assistant, was elevated to The Man Behind the Man and the real leader of the organization. The plot was re-shuffled to move most of the footage with Atwill to the second half of the serial. Also, a Fake Shemp was used, sometimes to be Sir Eric in disguise, sometimes shot behind or from a distance to disguise the fact that it was a double.
- Riddle for the Ages: A dying Gaffron claims that he put an explosive in the plane with the meteorium. This leads to a fight between Sir Eric and Grebb that ends with the plane blowing up. Did Gaffron put a bomb on the plane? As Rod says, "We'll never know."
- Running Gag:
- "System", the one Gambling Addict at the Light of Asia Casino who keeps confidently asserting that this time he has a foolproof system and is guaranteed to win.
- In the last episode it's revealed that System is actually an agent with the United Peace Federation. And he finally found a system, as shown by the huge pile of chips he's won.
- Staging the Eavesdrop: In episode 7, Marjorie and Dr. Elmore stage a conversation about his translation of the inscription from the underground chamber, with the knowledge that Grebb is listening. They deliberately steer him to a fake translation.
- The Starscream: It turns out that Sir Eric Hazarias has tired of playing the public face of the organization while Malburn is The Man Behind the Man. In episode 12 one of Malburn's flunkies shoots him, as part of Sir Eric's takeover.
- Sweater Girl: While Indra the evil sexy female character wears skintight, slinky dresses, Marjorie the good sexy female character settles for skintight sweaters.
- Unobtanium: Meteorium-245, the rare element that is the only defense from nuclear attack. It's in the wilds of Zalabar, maybe.
- World of Ham: A lot of very, very, very hammy acting in this series.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In the last episode Sir Eric kills off his subordinates after finally obtaining the meteorium. This leads Dr. Gaffron to put a bomb in the meteorium crate (maybe?), which leads to the deaths of Sir Eric and Grebb.