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Film / Lost Continent

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(The) Lost Continent is a 1951 B-Movie produced by Robert Lippert, starring Cesar Romero and Hugh Beaumont. Starting out as a fairly straight-forward, Cold War era military film, it quickly switches into a "lost in the jungle" romp, then segues into an interminable "rock climbing" sequence before ultimately transmogrifying into a dinosaur film.

Scientists and military men are testing the guidance systems of an experimental atomic rocket; said guidance systems fail and the rocket vanishes somewhere in the South Pacific. An expedition, led by one Major Joe Nolan and including the project's three key scientists, is dispatched to retrieve it before the Russians can get their hands on it.

Whilst scouting for an island or such that the rocket could have crashed on, their plane's engines abruptly fail, dumping them onto a familiar-looking tropical island. The island natives speak of "smoke and flame, burning from sky", clearly referring to the rocket which crashed on the top of the island's plateau, causing no small amount of geological turmoil (hold that thought). The expedition slowly — and we mean slowly — makes its way to the top of the mountain, and drags the hapless audience along for the ride.

Once at the top, they find... an exact duplicate of the jungle set at the mountain base. Except, as one scientist points out, this jungle is flowered by long-extinct plant life. And not just plants; we soon encounter much prehistoric animal life as well. The cast wastes spends much time running from dinosaurs and wandering through the foliage before finally stumbling upon the missing rocket. Examining its guidance computer will help the scientists correct the problem, and so exit stage down. (That's right: that means more rock climbing!)

Um, better get a move on, quick: the entire island is beginning to break up! And so the survivors pile into a tiny rowboat and watch from the ocean as the island explodes like an atom bomb. Fin.

Robert Lippert was also an uncredited producer for the classic The Fly (1958).

For the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version, please go to the episode recap page.

Lost Continent contains examples of:

  • Always a Bigger Fish: The group are trapped by a triceratops and doomed... until a second triceratops comes along and picks a fight.
  • Artistic License Paleontology: Yet another example of flesh-eating brontosaurs.
  • Avengers Assemble: After the rocket test introduces the scientists, the film shows scenes of Major Joe, Lieutenant Wilson, and "Monkey Boy" Tatlow being summoned by Military Police for the recovery mission.
  • The Casanova: Major Joe is introduced during what should have been the (ahem) final stages of a successful date.
  • Cataclysm Climax: Of the "practically out of the blue" variety.
  • Covers Always Lie:
    • The poster shows a Tyrannosaurus rex. No such dinosaur ever appears.
    • Acquanetta's character doesn't even go on the adventure with the main characters; she simply points them in the right direction and then exit, stage left.
  • Dirty Communists: Subverted. Because Rostov is German Russian, Major Joe is suspicious of him from the start. His suspicions turn out to be in error.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?? Monkey Boy's sensual, erotic dreams... about an airplane. "I feel so dirty after watching that!"
  • Funny Background Event: During one of the many rock climbing sequences, Robert is cracking up in the background. As the Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide explains:
    Mike Nelson: There is a wonderful moment in The Lost Continent that we failed to point out in our treatment of it. During the rock climbing sequence, where they are hauling Sid Melton up onto a plateau by the butt, Hugh Beaumont is in the background completely losing it [because Melton's pants get pulled down by accident, exposing his assets directly to the camera]. He's barely trying to cover the fact that he's laughing. Luckily for us, Sam Newfield never did a second take. Look for it, you'll not be disappointed.
  • Idiot Ball: One guy, to escape the (sigh) flesh-eating bronto, climbs up a tall tree.
  • Lampshaded Double Entendre: Major Joe's Girl Of The Movie: "Hurry back, Joe; I'd like to continue our... discussion about 'simulated landings'."
  • Left Hanging: They escape the exploding island in a small boat. The End. So it's the middle of the ocean, who cares?
  • Leg Cling: Acquanetta, in the poster (see above).
  • Lost World: Why, it's right there in the title, even.
  • Musical Spoiler: An ominous, minor-key theme plays whenever Briggs is climbing. Sure enough, it climaxes just as he takes the quick way down the mountain.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Sgt. Willie Tatlow, aka Monkey Boy. Like most of his ilk, there's very little about him that's either comical or relieving. Except maybe his death.
  • Retirony / Fatal Family Photo: Briggs, who shows pictures of his kids to the others.
    Major Joe: You'll have quite a story to tell them when we get back.
    Briggs: Yes... I hope I will.
  • Slurpasaur: Yeah...
    Crow: You mean by that gargantuan lizard?
  • Stock Footage: Special effects footage recycled from/for King Dinosaur, Rocketship X-M and Fire Maidens of Outer Space.
  • Title Drop: When they get to the top of the plateau and find all the prehistoric flora and fauna, they call the place a "lost continent".
  • Wardrobe Malfunction: One part of the "rock climbing" sequence has Sid Melton's pants fall down while Cesar Romero hauls him over a cliffside. You can see the other actors cracking up in the background during the scene.
  • You No Take Candle: Acquanetta as an island girl. (In fact, the actress was American-born and raised [though details are sketchy], but was often cast in roles like this due to her "exotic" appearance.)