Notes: Opening credits announce "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Stupendous Story of Adventure and Romance": "by arrangement with Watterson R. Rothacker. The film, in other words is based on the 1912 adventure novel by Doyle, who initially sold an option to a British film producer. Watterson R. Rothacker, Chicago promoter, purchased the option in 1922 (now that Willis O'Brien had come to work for him) and negotiated an eight-year deal with Doyle.

Professor Challenger: Wallace Beery
Edward Malone: Lloyd Hughes
Paula White (the name of my first college English teacher!): Bessie Love (a box office attraction, for a character not in Doyle's book)
Sir John Roxton: Lewis Stone
Summerlee: Arthur Hoyt
Mrs. Challenger: Margaret McWade
Austin the Butler: Finch Smiles
Zambo: Jules Cowles
Apeman: Bull Montana
Colin McArdle: George Bunny
Major Hibbard: Charles Wellesley
Gladys Hungerford: Alma Bennett

Director: Harry O. Hoyt
Screenplay: Marion Fairfax
Camera: Arthur Edeson

Technical Background: 18"-tall scale models with metal skeletons and rubber skins were filmed frame by frame after a fraction of an inch movement on 75' x 150' miniature landscapes. Willis O'Brien, former cowboy and sports cartoonist, had developed the technique in short subjects like Prehistoric Poultry and several other shorts listed in Dinofilms. A full day in the studio would yield about 20 seconds of moving pictures. Two negatives were combined onto the same piece of film for stop-motion animation and live action together. [Director Harry O. Hoyt and O'Brien in 1930 planned Creation in which a submarine cruise finds a prehistoric world. Dinosaur models were fashioned by O'Brien's associate Marcel Delgato. They refined the effects process by projecting images onto a transparent screen, so actors seem to interact with filmed footage of models. Backgrounds were printed on sheets of glass, layered to provide illusion of depth. So ultimately they combined smoothly sketches, diagrams, sound effects, score, and dialogue. RKO dropped the project as too expensive, but see King Kong.]

At the office of the London Record Journal, news circulates of Professor Challenger's lawsuit over doubt about his assertion concerning live dinosaurs. The editors question his sanity, since, in a rage, Challenger nearly killed three reporters.

In stumbles a bumbling Edward Malone, asking McArdle for a dangerous assignment. [In Doyle's book, Gladys Hungerford serves to inspire Malone towards this. Apparently Doyle's "Gladys" frame was part of this film but this material was part of the lost footage; Gladys appears as a character in the credits, but we never see her.]

Malone goes to the Zoological Hall to hear Challenger speak. Sir John Roxton, "famous hunter and explorer," stands before a dinosaur skeleton and greets Malone before the talk. Roxton is openminded: "The back country of the Amazon contains over fifty thousand miles of unexplored water-ways."

At the gathering, Professor Summerlee, "coleopterist," introduces Challenger. The boisterous crowd shouts, "Bring on your mastodons! Bring on your mammoths!" Challenger calls them "sineless worms," not brave enough to trek back to where they live, too cowardly "to go back to the Lost World with me." Summerlee agrees to go in order to prove Challenger "a liar and a fraud." Roxton signs on. Malone volunteers, but when Challenger asks twice, "Occupation?" and Malone admits he's a reporter, Challenger lunges at him and chases him out of the hall.

Challenger returns home to 11 Enmore Park, Kensington West where Malone has climbed in the window to plead his case. Challenger attacks again and the two roll out the door and down the steps in front of the house. When Malone blames himself in front of a bobby, and it turns out that he is a freind of Roxton, Challenger agrees to have him in. Roxton arrives, followed by Paula White, daughter of Maple White, the explorer whose book records the sightings of dinosaurs and who was lost on the plateau.

The sketchbook shows "Carnivorous Beast Allosaurus" and we scan up to "a Living Brontosaurus" (interestingly unparallel wording). Maple White "actually saw descendents of these monsters," "tremendous in size and ferocity . . . those beasts." Paula feels faint at recounting her journey with her father. Malone is suddenly fired up and announces, irrationally, "Why, this is a great human interest story!" The scene closes with a moment between Paula and Roxton.

We next see the explorers canoeing past a leopard, a snake (at which Paula's pet monkey Jocko freaks), and sloths. At camp, Malone's typing indicates three weeks have passed. An apeman and his chimp sidekick drop a boulder on the camp, but hit no one. The explorers see a pterodactyl fly to the pinnacle across from the plateau and decide to fell the remaining tree in order to cross over. At dawn, a bronto hears the chopping sounds, as does the apeman. Once across, the explorers see "A Brontosaurus--feeding merely on leaves. Perfectly harmless--unless it happens to step on us." [At least we still found a contorted way to make it our enemy.] Their tree falls into the ravine so that they become "prisoners!" and Malone and Paula chat deeply.

The explorers encounter "An allosaurus--a meat-eater--the most vicious pest of the ancient world" which fights another dinosaur until it falls into a bog. It harasses a triceratops family but the two adults succeed in protecting the young one (did the triceratops form protective family bonds?). The allosaur goes after the humans at night, eyes aglow. They shoot it in the snoot but it runs away only when they throw a torch in its mouth. Later, it has another fight with a triceratops, and the latter wins, but another allosaur in turn kills the triceratops and a pterodactyl. Ah, life.

Zambo (a white man in blackface) prepares a catapult below the plateau. [Part 4.] Above, Malone and Paula grow close: "Now that we've found these caves we could live here the rest of our lives--if we had some weapon capable of making a dent in a dinosaur!" Meanwhile, Roxton finds the skeletal remains of Maple White and a passage out to the sheer cliff wall on the side of the plateau.

Malone and Paula kiss, supposedly cut off from obligations of home (like Malone's fiance, Gladys). When Roxton returns, Malone declares, "I'm going to ask Professor Summerlee to marry us. . . . He used to be a minister!"

Challenger meanwhile is studying a bronto: "A lovely specimen. We'll stalk it and observe its habits." While it eats leaves, an allosaur arrives. The bronto chews on the neck of the allosaur, but is backed off a cliff and falls.

A volcano erupts and animals run in panic. Fire spreads, but no human is killed. Afterwards, baby dinos eat corpses. Jocko climbs with a rope while the fallen bronto wallows. The explorers climb down a rope ladder. The last one down is almost pulled up again by the apeman, but a bullet makes him drop the ladder.

With the help of a steel cage and a raft, they transport the brontosaur back to London. Challenger reports before a crowd the "unloading of the monster," but Malone calls and says that cables broke: "It's running wild--the streets are in an uproar!" The bronto knocks people down with its swiping tail, knocks over a statue, burns its snoot on a streetlamp and busts up a building. Tower Bridge is not sturdy enough for it. The bronto falls through and into the water, and swims out to sea.

Malone and Paula take off; Roxton is dignified but alone; Challenger sits exhausted on the bridge.

This business of transporting a prehistoric creature back home is a recurring screw-up in dinosaur movies: not because of the inevitable escapes and property damage, but in terms of plot dynamics and anticlimax, because the films seldom follow through with transporting the right thing back in the first place. In this film, all along, we're trained to regard the Allosaurus with fear and awe. But we cart back a cheesy bronto? In Doyle's book, interest in dinosaurs is superseded when tribes of humanoids are discovered on the plateau; but after the genocide, the explorers bring back only a baby pterodactyl. Even the Jurassic Park sequel, The Lost World (1997), in which they finally bring back the right creature--a T-rex--not much happens on the short rampage. The dynamics in King Kong are on the mark: alleluia.