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arts / rec.arts.sf.movies / Re: Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Novel (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)

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* Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle'sMark Leeper
`* Re: Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Novel Paul S Person
 `- Re: Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Novel HenHanna

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Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Novel (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)

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Subject: Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's
Novel (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)
From: mlee...@optonline.net (Mark Leeper)
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 by: Mark Leeper - Sun, 9 Oct 2022 15:25 UTC

Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Novel (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)

[Originally published in Argentus, Number 3, Summer 2003]

Imagine a land so isolated from the world that it was beyond the
reach even of the forces of evolution. On one plateau deep in the
remote Amazon rain forest there is a land that has withstood the
ravages of time. Here dinosaurs and prehistoric ancestors of man
still live.

In 1960 I remember being enthralled with the publicity for the
upcoming film THE LOST WORLD. I was nine years old and anything
that had to do with dinosaurs was okay with me. I had only
recently seen the 1959 version of JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE
EARTH and loved it. But only three sequences in the film had
dinosaurs. (Okay, to be literal, there are no dinosaurs in that
film, but at nine I was not ready to make zoological distinctions.)
The Sunday comics had ads telling a little teasing bit of the
story of an expedition to a plateau with dinosaurs. I was hooked.
I guess I still am.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes series of
stories, also had a science fiction and fantasy series featuring
short, wide, and blustery Professor George Edward Challenger. The
stocky scientist was first introduced in his 1912 novel THE LOST
WORLD. For this tale Doyle saw the dramatic possibilities of
humans interacting with live dinosaurs. He told an irresistible
story of an Amazon plateau so isolated that evolution had passed it
by and where the dragons of the past still reigned supreme. There
are two more novels with the same set of adventurers, though they
are not nearly as interesting or famous. THE POISON BELT is about
the earth traveling through a field of poisonous ether gas. THE
LAND OF MIST is a plea for tolerance for a spiritualist church.
Two shorter stories have Challenger opposing an inventor who has
created a terrible weapon in "The Disintegration Machine," and
discovering the Earth is a living organism in "When the Earth
Screamed." Doyle is said to have preferred writing Challenger
stories to stories about Sherlock Holmes, though the latter
undeniably had greater popularity and perhaps were better written.

The publicity I was seeing in 1960 was for the second of what at
this writing are six screen adaptations of the novel. In this
article I will review each of the six adaptations of Doyle's novel
to the screen. In doing so I face certain problems. First, the
earliest version is incomplete. I will have to review what is
available, a restored version of 92 minutes. A more widespread
problem is that is in my opinion none of the adaptations has been
satisfactorily accurate to the novel. Every one of them takes at
least one woman along and Doyle did not have a woman on the plateau
in the novel. Each adaptation does a lot of inventing as if there
was something wrong with Doyle's story. There really is not. If I
like a version, it really is mostly in comparison to the other
renditions that may not be as good.

THE LOST WORLD (1925)

The 1925 version had the much of the story more faithful to the
novel than any of the later film versions, though some incidents
occur out of order. One revision is that in the book Challenger
brought back only a pterodactyl, and it escapes before it is seen
by more than a roomful of people. The 1925 silent film version
apparently thought it would be more dramatic to have the animal
brought back be a brontosaurus and it does quite a bit of damage
when it escapes. This would show off imaginatively the stop-motion
animation.

The 1925 film version was the first feature-length film to use
stop-motion animation to any great degree. The technician who
created the effects was a young Willis O'Brien, who would later be
in charge of the effects of KING KONG (1933). In fact, though
O'Brien did not contribute the plot to KING KONG, it has strong
similarities to THE LOST WORLD, with the animal brought back to
civilization being a very large ape.

This first and arguably the best version of Doyle's classic was the
first version, a silent film. However, for years it has been
nearly impossible to tell with any assurance much about the 1925
version of THE LOST WORLD. There are four or five different
versions of this film. Until relatively recently only an edited
version a little over an hour has been available. This was much
chopped down from the original film. Recently a 93-minute version
has become available to the general public on DVD. Reportedly the
original release was 104 minutes so only about 11 minutes of the
original theatrical release are still missing. However, that is
the released version.

Sadly, it is impossible to see at this point what the released film
was really like. Production stills shown on the Turner Classic
Movie cable channel seem to indicate that there was a great deal
more of Doyle's plot that was shot than could possibly fit into the
missing eleven minutes. Some sequences that look like they would
have not only lengthened the film but made it more faithful to the
published story. The stills include the "stool of penance" scene
from the novel in which Challenger used as a most politically
incorrect way to punish his wife. Also there is indication that as
with the original novel Challenger was not chosen as one of the
members of the expedition and he uses trickery to join the party
after they are on their way. This plot was in the Doyle and was
apparently filmed for the silent version and then probably edited
out. (Of the adaptations covered in this article only the 1992
television version and the "Alien Voices" audio versions are
faithful to the book in this regard.) So while even the 93-minute
version indicates large liberties taken from the novel, there was
probably sequences shot that could have made for a fairly accurate
version that perhaps never came together.

I personally recommend this 93-minute version as being more
entertaining than the 63-minute version that has been available.
The shorter version has just the minimal story needed to connect up
the special effects shots. The longer editing makes the expedition
seems less slapdash and makes the film feel more like a ripping
adventure story. The shorter editing has the background story be
little more than a frame for the dinosaur sequences. That
audiences would settle for that is a testament to the popularity
that the Willis O'Brien's dinosaur sequences had with audiences.

It is hard to gage the impact that these sequences must have had
since so little like them had been seen on the screen before. Many
of the viewers assumed that the dinosaurs were full-scale
mechanical creations, and a few were naive enough to believe they
were seeing real live dinosaurs. It is hard to believe from the
jerky effects, the best possible at the time, that people took them
for real. But in fact there were some who did. While the film was
in production Marion Fairfax, who wrote the screenplay, thought she
would reassure special effects technician O'Brien and told him that
if the effects did not work out, the dinosaurs could easily be
removed from her screenplay. It is hard to imagine how popular a
film they could a made without the attraction of the dinosaur
effects.

The variations in plot from the novel are relatively small changes
of little consequence until the travelers arrive at the plateau.
Perhaps the biggest change was the addition of a love interest for
Malone to go with him on the expedition. This is Paula White,
daughter of plateau discoverer Maple White, played by Bessie Love.
After the crew gets to the plateau the story diverges somewhat
more. The novel talks of two tribes of humans. One are half-human
Neanderthal sorts, the others are like modern Indians. Doyle
spends much of the plateau story of how the modern Indians beat the
half-men, proving the superiority of modern man. Frankly, for me
this plot is not as interesting as the dinosaur-related plotting.
In this 1925 version of the film the two tribes are reduced to one
ape man, played by a man with the unlikely name Bull Montana.
Montana specialized in playing apes and half-men in the movies.
Without particularly good looks he had found his niche playing
ape-men. The filmmakers had only one half-man actor so the story
more concentrates on dinosaurs. Probably that is not a bad thing.
Even at the time the dinosaurs were more intriguing to audiences
than a man in an ape costume, however lurid.

Some additional liberties are taken. The zoological meeting takes
place before Malone visits Challenger's home. The escape route
from the plateau is destroyed by a dinosaur rather than by Gomez.
The most memorable variation, and one that would inspire other
films, is that instead of bringing back a pterodactyl, Challenger
returns with a brontosaurus who then escapes and wreaks havoc in
London. This popular sequence probably inspired films like KING
KONG; THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS; and BEHEMOTH, THE SEA MONSTER
(a.k.a. THE GIANT BEHEMOTH).


Click here to read the complete article
Re: Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Novel (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)

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Subject: Re: Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Novel (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)
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 by: Paul S Person - Sun, 9 Oct 2022 16:29 UTC

On Sun, 9 Oct 2022 08:25:11 -0700 (PDT), Mark Leeper
<mleeper@optonline.net> wrote:

>Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Novel (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)
>
>[Originally published in Argentus, Number 3, Summer 2003]

<snippo; I have a few remarks on the first two>

The silent 1925 version is, indeed, much closer to the book than the
1960 version, including the outer wrapper: the protagonist's going on
the expedition to impress his sweetie, only to find on his return that
she has married a bank clerk and her desire for a man of adventure was
merely a "girlish whim". And in other ways as well, as you noted.

It is marred by the dialog it assigns to Zambo, the comic relief, an
African-American from the Deep South who is heavily stereotyped and,
for unexplained reasons, is somehow working in the Amazon.

But the stop-motion is, for its time, fantastic.

The 1960 version has a few problems. Unlike the 1925 version, where
the obligatory (in a movie) female member of the expedition is a
trained explorer herself, the female /here/ is very much a fluff-head.
The dinosaur action is, however, first-rate -- because (as you noted)
they are not stop-motion dinosaurs but lizards wearing costumes. I
don't recall if the film was monitored by an SPCA. Had they ditched
the costumes and modified the script to talk about "giant lizards"
instead of "dinosaurs", they would have avoided a lot of the
criticism. (I have read a suggestion that this happened because CB
DeMille was sucking all the special effects money out of the studio to
make /Cleopatra/, leaving O'Brien with few options.)

OTOH, the comic relief here is the storekeeper, and he is just a
greedy, grubby opportunist.

Incidentally, the DVD I purchased for /The Lost World/ contains both
versions. The 1925 version is 75 minutes long and claims to have been
restored from the original 35mm negative. In addition to telling you
this when the disc starts up, starting the movie tells it to you in
more detail before the actual film starts. The people who did this are
clearly proud of their work. This leaves it, what, 18 minutes short
(Maltin gives 93 minutes)? The disk also has 9 minutes of "Outtakes".
--
"In this connexion, unquestionably the most significant
development was the disintegration, under Christian
influence, of classical conceptions of the family and
of family right."

Re: Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Novel (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)

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Date: Sun, 3 Mar 2024 21:43:56 +0000
Subject: Re: Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's
Novel (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)
From: HenHa...@dev.null (HenHanna)
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 by: HenHanna - Sun, 3 Mar 2024 21:43 UTC

Paul S Person wrote:

> On Sun, 9 Oct 2022 08:25:11 -0700 (PDT), Mark Leeper wrote:

>>Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Novel (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)
>>
>>[Originally published in Argentus, Number 3, Summer 2003]

> <snippo; I have a few remarks on the first two>

> The silent 1925 version is, indeed, much closer to the book than the
> 1960 version, including the outer wrapper: the protagonist's going on
> the expedition to impress his sweetie, only to find on his return that
> she has married a bank clerk and her desire for a man of adventure was
> merely a "girlish whim". And in other ways as well, as you noted. ................
> But the stop-motion is, for its time, fantastic.

> The dinosaur action is, however, first-rate -- because (as you noted)
> they are not stop-motion dinosaurs but lizards wearing costumes. ...........

"In this connexion, unquestionably the most significant
development was the disintegration, under Christian
influence, of classical conceptions of the family and of family right."

---------------- an interesting quote.

Wow. both of you guys know what you're talking about!!!

i think .... Most younger folks today (say, under 40 y.o.) have trouble
being interested in the Older Sci.Fi. films

i remember watching Disney's original 1954 [20000 Leagues Under the Sea]
and was blown-away by the quality not found in the recent Sci.Fi. films

_________________20000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954 film) https://en.wikipedia.org

It stars Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas, and Peter Lorre. Photographed in Technicolor, the film was one of the first feature-length motion pictures to be ...


arts / rec.arts.sf.movies / Re: Six Lost Worlds: The Dramatic Adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Novel (film comments by Mark R. Leeper)

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