Two Lost Worlds (1951)

“Only as the dark sky began to grey with the approach of morning were they able to number the disastrous hours that had passed…”


Director:  Norman Dawn

Starring:  James Arness, Laura Elliot, Bill Kennedy, Gloria Petroff, Tom Hubbard, Tom Monroe, Jane Harlan, Pierre Watkin, Tim Graham, Fred Kohler Jr, Robert Carson

Screenplay:  Tom Hubbard, Phyllis Parker and Bill Shaw




Synopsis:  In 1830, the clipper ship Hamilton Queen sails from Salem on its way to the East Indies. The voyage is to prove the worth of the clipper’s design, which was the work of first mate Kirk Hamilton (James Arness). In order to cut a week off their journey, Kirk suggests a detour through the New Hebrides, a proposition that Captain Tallman (Tom Monroe) finally agrees to. However, the Hamilton Queen soon encounters another ship, which proves to be manned by pirates. The clipper easily outruns its attackers, but not before it is fired upon and Kirk is injured. Captain Tallman insists on seeking medical attention for Kirk, and the Hamilton Queen docks near a sheep-farming settlement in the far north-east of Queensland. Kirk learns that he needs ongoing treatment, and insists that the Queen sail on without him. Tallman reluctantly agrees, leaving two men, Salty (Tim Graham) and Nat (Fred Kohler Jr), to care for Kirk. The settlers are disturbed by the news of the pirates, who raided their colony once before, and who threaten their exported goods. Martin Shannon (Bill Kennedy), the owner of the largest ranch, tells his agitated workers that Magistrate Jeffries (Pierre Watkin) will soon be back from Brisbane with word of his meeting with the Governor. Martin visits his fiancée, Elaine Jeffries (Laura Elliot), and promises to take her to Brisbane with him when he goes there on business. Word comes that Magistrate Jeffries’ ship has docked, and Elaine and her young sister, Janice (Gloria Petroff), prepare to meet their father. Later that evening, Jeffries tells a gathered assembly that the Governor has promised to investigate their situation, and perhaps set up a garrison. The next day, puzzled by Janice’s secretive behaviour, Elaine follows her to the cottage in which the sailors are living. Elaine and Kirk are immediately smitten with one another. That evening, Kirk walks Elaine and Janice home. Elaine invites Kirk in, offering to introduce him to her father. However, the two find another meeting going on. Asked to contribute, Kirk suggests that the settlers organise their own militia, and offers to help. As Kirk leads the other men out, Shannon stays with Elaine, telling her he wants to announce their engagement. Confused by her feelings for Kirk, Elaine refuses Shannon’s request. Over the following days, Elaine and Kirk fall in love. At a dance, Kirk asks Elaine to go with him when the Hamilton Queen picks him up. Elaine tells him that she cannot leave her family. Shannon breaks in on them, punching Kirk. Elaine flees, distressed. Later, deciding that her feelings for Kirk are merely infatuation, Elaine goes to Shannon and asks him to take her away. The two are interrupted by the sounds of gunfire: the pirates have attacked. Shannon tries to get Elaine to safety, but the invaders kidnap her. The small settlement is burned, and many people are killed or injured, including Magistrate Jeffries. Kirk gathers the survivors, demanding that Captain Allison (Robert Carson), the commander of the sloop on which Jeffries travelled, go after the pirates, who have both Elaine and her friend, Nancy (Jane Harlan). Allison agrees. While they are hunting the pirates, the men discover that Janice is hidden on board the sloop. The sloop catches the pirate ship, and a desperate battle ensues, with both ships catching fire and burning. Kirk rescues Elaine and Nancy, and they make it into a lifeboat with Janice, Shannon, who is injured, and John Hartley (Tom Hubbard), Shannon’s foreman. After two nights adrift, the party finds itself on a mysterious and dangerous island…

Comments:  Okay, so I made a mistake. It happens. You pick a film based on its title, or its cover art, and then when it’s too late, you discover that the damn thing isn’t anything like what you expected it to be like.

I’ll be honest, I’d never even heard of Two Lost Worlds. I just picked up the DVD because (i) it was cheap; and (ii) the cover promised me it was about “PREHISTORIC TIME’S MOST AWESOME SPECTACLE…AS MADDENED MASTODONS WAGE WARFARE TO THE DEATH!” – not to mention “dangerous dinosaurs, maddened mastodons, giant sloths, poisonous lizards and venom-spewing vultures*”. That’s two lots of maddened mastodons! – count ’em, two! So how was I to know it was a crappy little film about pirates!?

(*Any relation to the projectile vomiting duck?)

Oh, well. Chalk it up to experience. I would, however, like to apologise for the inordinate length of my ‘synopsis’, which is intended chiefly as assurance that something does finally happen in this film…albeit not very much.

On the other hand, almost everything that does happen here is cribbed from some other movie—and I mean the actual footage, not just the plot. Parts of One Million B.C. I could recognise for myself; while the good folk at Scifist have identified the other main sources as Captain Fury and Captain Caution, made in 1939 and 1940, respectively (and the former of which I should have seen, as it is set in Australia).

Be that as it may, you may imagine my surprise and delight when I discovered that Two Lost Worlds is actually a searing exposé of a mysteriously little-known period of Australian history, when “sheep ranchers” in far north Queensland found themselves at the mercy of desperate bands of marauding pirates—and American pirates, at that.


Our story proper, however, opens in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1830, as the clipper Hamilton Queen leaves on its fateful journey. As the Queen sets out, our narrator tells us that she carries “the fortunes of the young American republic”, and that when she returns she will carry back, “The treasured produce of the Orient” – whoa! Some ship, hey?

By the way, it is to be hoped that any prospective viewer of Two Lost Worlds likes listening to great chunks of voice-over narration, as the dulcet tones of Mr Don Riss will be our constant companions for the next hour or so.

At this point, Mr Riss chooses to laud men like “young Kirk Hamilton” (who according to the opening credits is played by “Jim Aurness”) who “ignore the dangers” and “see only the dream”. Kirk, we learn, was the designer of the Hamilton Queen, and the voyage to and from “the Indies” is to prove the superiority of his ship—and, incidentally, to keep his father, who has “every penny” tied up in his son’s enterprise, from going bust. Looking for ways of saving time, Kirk proposes a shortcut through “the New Hebrides” – i.e. Vanuatu. Captain Tallman is hesitant, as the area is known for its pirate activity (!), but finally agrees that it is worth the risk.

At this point, there is a slight pause in the action as the Captain discovers that his cigars have been stolen. We are then introduced to someone called “Salty”, who – ooh, look! – is smoking a cigar. If you have intuited that we have just encountered this film’s Odious Comedy Relief, give yourself two points. As Salty serves coffee, the Captain mentions casually that he is missing some cigars which (chuckle, chuckle) were poisoned. Salty is, of course, immediately overcome by illness, and must dash from the cabin. Oh, Salty! What shenanigans will you get up to next?

But enough of this riotous comedy! For danger lurks just across the waves, where the leader of a band of pirates is telling his men to, “Raise the American flag!” Dastard!

It has mastodons, you say?

(An interjection: as far as I can determine, the New Hebrides were not “known for their pirate activity”. But even if we allow the existence of one such ship, it seems unlikely that a region first charted by the Portuguese, then the French, then the British, and which was later [inevitably] squabbled over by the latter two, would be plagued by pirates sporting broad American accents.)

Too late, the men of the Hamilton Queen discover their danger; and before the speedy clipper can escape the pirate ship, it is fired upon, leaving Kirk with a surprisingly neat tear in the leg of his pants. Hilariously, at the height of an exchange of cannon-fire, not only is Kirk’s split seam treated like a matter of urgency, but Captain Tallman leaves the deck to go and check on it!

This brutal injury obviously requiring immediate medical attention (and apparently with no ship’s surgeon on board, still less a tailor), Captain Tallman insists on putting ashore at one of the “colonies” in far north Queensland where, we learn, sheep farming – sorry, sheep ranching – is the standard way of life.

I will now put on my killjoy cap, and point out some slight factual errors that have cropped up in the screenplay:

  1. “Queensland”, as such, did not come into existence until 1859; before that, the area was part of New South Wales.
  2. In 1830, the only settlement in what would become Queensland was around what is now Brisbane, at that time a poorly run penal colony of about a thousand inmates.
  3. General farming did not begin in Queensland until after 1839, when the land was opened up to free settlement.
  4. The far north of the state was not settled until the 1870s, when gold was discovered; Cairns, founded in 1876, became a major port as a consequence.
  5. The area indicated on Kirk Hamilton’s map is a region of tropical rainforest, not undulating pasture land.


But why split hairs? Captain Tallman negotiates the Great Barrier Reef without difficulty (thus proving himself more skilful than either James Cook, who hit a reef off Cape Tribulation, and the captains of the various oil tankers who for God knows what reason are allowed to get TOO GODDAMN CLOSE to the Reef and run aground with monotonous regularity), and lands at the dock of a “village” in north-east “Queensland”.

News of the pirate attack causes some disturbance there, as the settlement was once attacked by the same band of cutthroats. Nevertheless, the “Yankees” are welcomed by the “villagers”. (Villagers? Really?) Kirk is treated by a doctor, and learns that he must undergo further treatment over the ensuing weeks. Gallantly, Kirk insists that Tallman go on without him. In turn, Tallman insists that two of the ship’s crew stay to care for Kirk—taking the opportunity to rid himself of the dreaded Salty.

Mr Don Riss now interjects again, introducing us to Martin Shannon, a sheep rancher, who is concerned about the pirates, as their activities must necessarily disrupt the running of his ranch (?). Mr Riss then begins to wax lyrical about the settling of the Australian continent, and how the land is being forced to “yield to the rancher and the farmer” – not to mention the concomitant “yielding” of the indigenous population – which, in fact, they don’t mention.

(At this point, they push a few kangaroos and emus across what is conspicuously not north-east Queensland.)

In one of the shearing sheds on Shannon’s property, the men are huddled together to discuss the pirates, worried about the threat to their homes and families (how many pirates are there?). At this point we realise that, by some mysterious process of convergent evolution, these Australian shearers are dressed exactly like the inhabitants of a small town in the American west at the equivalent time in history.

“Tell me the truth, doc: will you have to amputate?”

Shannon interrupts the cowardly gathering, telling the men that Magistrate Jeffries has gone to see the Governor in Brisbane (pronounced correctly!) about their problem. Unconvinced, some of the men threaten to quit and “move back to the city”. Uh, which city, exactly?

Shannon then visits his fiancée, Elaine Jeffries, the eldest daughter of the local magistrate.

(Elaine is played by Laura Elliot, who finished her acting life playing Louise Tate in Bewitched, under the name “Kasey Rogers”. A year after Two Lost Worlds, Ms Elliot would reach the pinnacle of her career playing Farley Granger’s doomed wife in Strangers On A Train.)

The excuse for Shannon’s visit is to give a pet lamb to Elaine’s whiny brat of a younger sister, Janice, whose nasally American-ese is even more pronounced than that of the pirates. His real purpose, however, is to invite Elaine to go to Brisbane with him. “Brisbane! How wonderful!” gasps Elaine, with a starry-eyed enthusiasm that suggests that she knows even less about the Brisbane of 1830 than the film’s writers.

Word then comes that the government sloop has docked. Realising that this means that her father is home, Elaine rushes inside to dress herself and Janice for the occasion. She is then joined by her friend, Nancy. Note, I call Nancy Elaine’s “friend”, but the fact of the matter is I haven’t a clue who she might be. She contributes nothing to the story, with the reason for her continued presence becoming clear only in the film’s last few minutes.


Anyway, Nancy begins sighing over the handsome Yankee sailor, praising everything from “the way he smokes” to “the way he limps” (!).

The arrival of Magistrate Jeffries interrupts this little love-fest. Janice rushes out to greet her father, and trips over as she enters the room. (A nice save here by both actors, I must say: Pierre Watkin exclaims, “Baby, have you hurt yourself?”, and then he and Gloria Petroff carry on as if nothing untoward had happened.) We next see the Magistrate telling the gathered ranchers that the Governor has promised to investigate their situation, and to set up a garrison of troops if necessary. The men are still not happy, and there is more muttering of returning to “the cities”, unspecified.

The next day, Elaine becomes suspicious of Janice’s behaviour, and follows her to the sailors’ cottage, where the child presents Kirk with a birthday cake. Pressed into describing her sister, the little brat tells the men they wouldn’t like her, because she’s, “Big, and fat, and knock-kneed, and bow-legged”. Naturally, this causes Elaine to burst indignantly into the room, thus providing Kirk and herself with the essential cute-meet.

Sure enough, the two immediately start making goo-goo eyes at each other, and before long Kirk is making comparisons between “a real ship” and “a real lady”. “You sound like you’d like to marry a ship!” observes Elaine coyly. “Until five minutes ago, I would have!” responds Kirk.

That evening, Kirk walks Elaine and Janice home, and is invited inside to meet the Magistrate. He, however, is addressing yet another gathering of landowners (or the same one?), in which it is not at all difficult to guess the location of the boom mike: while most of the ranchers simply rhubarb-rhubarb softly, as you’d expect, one speaks his lines with deafening clarity: “THAT’S RIGHT! IT COULD HAPPEN AGAIN!!”


Elaine introduces Kirk, who apologises for interrupting and makes to withdraw. Jeffries asks him to stay, however, so they might have the benefit of his experience. (Hell, yes! How are these cowardly and disorganised Australians ever going to get anything done if they don’t have an American to take charge?) Nothing loath, Kirk immediately suggests organising a private militia – “That’s what we do in America!” In a moment irresistibly reminiscent of the immortal town meeting scene in Blazing Saddles, this suggestion is met with a loud chorus of approval: “The Yankee’s right! Mr Hamilton’s right!”

At the back of the room, Elaine gazes at Kirk with astonished pride, tears welling in her eyes. Shannon notices, and his brow darkens ominously. Kirk then leads the newly enthused landowners out to inspect the surrounding terrain, while Shannon stays behind with Elaine, telling her that he wants to announce their engagement before they go to Brisbane. (Hmm….perhaps “going to Brisbane” is a euphemism I haven’t heard before…?) Elaine, of course, stalls, saying she sees no reason they should change their plans. Shannon isn’t fooled. “You’ve changed since this Mr Hamilton came into our lives,” he says accusingly – which was, what? – three hours ago? – “I hardly know you!” Elaine denies that anything has changed. “Maybe you’ll feel differently at the dance,” adds Shannon hopefully.

But, as Don Riss assures us, springtime in Queensland is like springtime anywhere—this piece of wisdom being accompanied by scenes of Kirk and Elaine strolling hand in hand through the countryside, laughing at insert kookaburras, and finally kissing. At the dance, Kirk and Elaine sneak off to declare their love for one another. Feeling the need for some explanation, Elaine tells Kirk that, “I’m very fond of Martin.” (Poor Martin!) Kirk then asks Elaine to leave with him when the Hamilton Queen returns, but she baulks at the thought of never seeing her family again. In return, Kirk tells her that other people’s futures are bound up in him, and that he cannot stay.

You’re not fooling anyone, you know.

At that moment Shannon, who has been eavesdropping, flings himself into the scene and embarrasses himself by throwing what may be the softest punch in screen history. Instantly, Elaine pushes herself between the two men. “Stop it! You’re behaving like children!” she cries, which is a bit unfair on Kirk, isn’t it? She runs off in tears.

We then spend some time gazing at Elaine’s face while she mentally replays the last five minutes of the film’s dialogue (sans the bit about “springtime”, thankfully). Concluding that Shannon is right, and that it isn’t going to work out between her and Kirk, she decides to patch things up with her fiancé.

But the best laid plans, yada-yada. Unbeknownst to the settlers – and apparently unnoticed by Kirk’s militia; so much for doing things the American way – the dreaded pirates have come ashore, driven to land because, “We haven’t boarded a vessel in some time!” Which might be because – oh, I don’t know – they’re not hanging out in any shipping lanes!?

Elaine, meanwhile, has tracked down Shannon. “You were right!” she tells him. “Take me to Brisbane with you!” Ooh, you brazen hussy! Shannon promises to take her there next week, but she insists on going right away. “All right – tomorrow!” says Shannon, obviously not one to look a gift hussy in the mouth.

And speaking of which, Shannon has just planted one on Elaine when—BLAMMO! The pirates attack! Two of Shannon’s men rush into the shack with the news. Worried about his—I mean, Elaine’s safety, Shannon realises he needs a diversion. “Wilson, go out and draw their fire!” he orders, and incredibly, Wilson does. But sadly, this heroism is to no avail, as the pirates knock Shannon down and ride off with Elaine, who pretty much just sits there and lets them do it.

Elaine felt like a kid in a candy store…

Meanwhile, this desperate band (all eight of them) are burning and pillaging the rest of the settlement, and committing other vile deeds such as knocking over someone’s wash-tub. Magistrate Jeffries makes a run for it on horseback, whereupon we see that not only does the Queensland outback bear as astonishing resemblance to parts of California, but that the pirates have mysteriously doubled in number. Cornered, Jeffries can think of nothing better to do than walk his horse over a waterfall.

An injured survivor tells Kirk that the pirates have taken Elaine and Nancy (remember Nancy?) on board their ship. Naturally, Kirk takes charge of the situation, demanding that Captain Allison, the commander of the government sloop, allow the ship to be used to pursue the pirates. “We’ve got to go after them!” he argues forcefully, and inevitably, someone pipes up, “He’s right!”

A little comedy relief then leavens this high drama, as Salty and Nat debate the eating arrangements on the naval vessel.

This hilarious scene is interrupted by the sudden appearance of Janice, who explains that her father told her to hide. “Where’s my Daddy?” she naturally inquires. Kirk and Shannon try to distract her with food, but Janice starts to sob, either because she has intuited the truth, or because the men’s acting is so lame.

Meanwhile, Elaine is denouncing the leader of the pirates. (Nancy stands by silently.) And a very thin-skinned and sensitive pirate he must be, too, for Elaine calls him nothing worse than, “A man like you!” before he slaps her face and orders his men to put ashore wherever they can, just so they can, “Get them off my ship!” So-oo-oo….why were they brought on board in the first place?

“I think women and seamen don’t mix!”
“We know what you think!”

The sloop, manned by Our Heroes, then catches up with the pirate ship, and Kirk warns the crew of the desperate fight ahead: “They’ve got no rules!” What follows is your standard pirate film fight scene: much swinging on rigging, flashing cutlasses, the occasional pistol shot. In the midst of this, we cut to a bewildering shot of John Hartley, Shannon’s right hand man, rescuing Janice – who as you might recall was on the government ship – while Elaine and Nancy escape onto the deck of the pirate ship. Shannon takes a bullet saving Kirk, and somehow both ships end up going up in flames.

Kirk, the injured Shannon, Elaine, Nancy, Hartley and Janice escape in a row-boat (not bothering to wait and see if there are any other survivors, mind you!), after which, Don Riss informs us, they “rowed and drifted aimlessly” for two days. Ah—and why was that, exactly? I mean, how far from land were they when they caught the pirates? And why would they “drift aimlessly” rather than, oh, I don’t know, navigating?

Anyway, on the second day the survivors look up to see a volcanic island before them. They land the boat and stagger ashore through what Mr Riss assures us is “the turbulent surf”, and which looks amazingly like two inches of dead flat water at low tide.

At this point we see that Elaine’s dress, which was immaculate when she escaped the pirates, has developed a series of interesting tears. The square one at the hemline may perhaps be explained by her tearing out a bandage for Shannon’s wound; the neat round peek-a-boo one over the top of her left thigh, however, remains a mystery.

The survivors then collapse in an exhausted sleep, during which the “turbulent surf” takes its revenge by wrecking the boat—which, incredibly, Our Heroes failed to secure.

Yyyeah, I’m still not seeing any mastodons…

The terrible dangers awaiting our brave band begin to manifest themselves with the appearance of a pair of vultures. Tragically, despite what the synopsis on the DVD case promises us, they do not “spew venom” at all; nor do they appear to be vultures per se, but rather condors. Convergent evolution strikes again.

Meanwhile, Our Heroes have discovered to their horror that before them lies a deadly stretch of “shimmering, burning desert”. This, Kirk assures us, is typical of islands in the Dutch East Indies (!).

“What are we going to do?” shrieks Nancy suddenly, possibly realising that she hasn’t had a single line of dialogue in twenty-eight minutes. “Nancy!” says Elaine sternly, quelling this unseemly outburst.

Elaine’s dress, I should mention, has somehow undergone more ripping during the night, and is now missing most of its sleeves.

Out scouting, John Hartley sees trees in the distance, then water. He hurries back to the others, who begin the long walk towards their salvation. By now, Elaine’s various rips have joined up to turn her dress into a snazzy frontless number, exposing both of her legs and a very un-1830s pair of knickers. And Nancy’s dress, too, has begun to undergo some interesting alterations…

Eventually finding water, the intrepid band slakes its thirst. Janice, her spirits restored, runs off to play with “a tiny desert hop-toad”. I didn’t realise there were “tiny desert hop-toads” in the Dutch East Indies. But then, I didn’t realise there were “shimmering, burning deserts” there either, so what do I know?

Somehow they survived the perils of the turbulent surf…

Janice then gets a little more than she expected when she rounds a corner and sees—

Okay, so here we are at The Big Scene; the one that almost qualifies Two Lost Worlds as Science Fiction; the one that the DVD case promised us, with, “Maddened mastodons waging warfare to the death”. Just one problem…

mas·to·don /ˈmastədɒn / noun a large extinct elephant-like mammal of the Miocene to Pleistocene epochs, having teeth of a relatively primitive form and number. [NL, from Gk, from mast- MAST- + odoús tooth]

And what does Janice actually see?


In fact, it’s the notorious “nose-wrestling” scene from the 1940 version of One Million Years B.C., wherein a baby crocodile with a fin glued to its back and a monitor lizard are thrown together and encouraged to attack each other.

And I’m afraid that at this point, Two Lost Worlds became seriously distasteful to me. The notion of animals being killed or injured for our alleged entertainment is utterly abhorrent to me, and the fact that it’s “just lizards” doesn’t make it any better; they aren’t “just lizards” to me. At the end of the sequence, when we’re supposed to be worrying about the human characters, all I could see was the monitor that lost the fight, left lying on its back and so badly injured that it was hardly able to breathe, let alone turn over.

“So we’re east of Java, then?”

I suppose it’s better that the film-makers recycled the earlier footage rather than re-staging the whole scene, but all the same, this sequence leaves a very nasty taste in the mouth.

After this, the others continue on their way, eventually finding that the “gaunt and cruel terrain” is giving way to low vegetation, then forest. The presence of more animals indicates that Kirk’s instinct about which way to walk was correct. And in the absence of anyone else to do it, Don Riss intones, “Kirk’s judgement was right!”

Supposedly Our Heroes are now in a tropical jungle offering an abundance of fruit, although the increasing presence of unconvincing back-projection suggests that wherever Two Lost Worlds was shot, desert was more readily available. No sooner have our wanderers taken the edge off their hunger than their personal issues begin to make themselves felt again, with Kirk and Elaine gripped with “secret thoughts of one another”, and Shannon consumed by “dark and jealous” emotions.

Meanwhile, the Hamilton Queen has returned to Queensland, and Captain Tallman is hearing the whole tragic story from Captain Allison, who is one of the few to have survived the burning of the ships (and who, you’ll notice, is in no particular hurry to get back to Brisbane and report his loss to The Authorities). Although Allison thinks no-one but himself and the others in his lifeboat – including, of course, the wretched Salty – survived, Tallman decides that the proximity of the tragedy to the Dutch East Indies means that someone might have reached land; and he decides to search a little before turning for home.

Back on the island, the survivors have built a raft. Kirk has a daring plan to propose, and supports his argument with the use of a hand-drawn map of their destination that could charitably be described as “abstract”: he insists that their best hope is to travel by raft to the northernmost tip of Queensland, after which they will walk down the coast to the settlement.


Ahhh…excuse me, will you? I just have to step outside for a moment…


Whew! That’s better!

In this scene, we see that Nancy has managed to outdo Elaine: her originally fairly elaborate dress has (for reasons that will become clear in a minute) been reduced to thigh length, with a single strap draped over one shoulder.

In response to Kirk’s plan, the loquacious Nancy says suddenly, “Home! Oh, I can’t believe it!” In view of the imminent raft trip across the Timor Sea and the 2000 kilometre walk to follow, neither can I.

But seeing no alternative, the group begins to gather food for the dangerous crossing. Shannon demands a straight answer from Kirk regarding their chances, and Kirk says through gritted teeth, “Don’t worry—I’ll see that you and Elaine get back!” Shannon nods in a satisfied way, apparently pleased at the implication that they’ll be losing Janice somewhere along the way.

Before the perilous journey can begin, however, the volcano in the middle of the island suddenly belches into life. Bet you didn’t see that coming!

The entire film now explodes into Stock Footage Overload, as the eruption footage from One Million Years B.C. also makes an appearance. Nancy, who escaped a falling rock wall despite standing stock still and screaming as it fell towards her, now has her date with destiny as she is engulfed by the surging lava.


And here, my friends, we see the entire raison d’être for Nancy’s presence in the film; worse yet, for the way her dress is progressively torn off her: they wanted to re-use the footage from the earlier film where a cave girl is engulfed by lava! You heard me: an entirely superfluous character was written into Two Lost Worlds just so they could insert that clip.

Meanwhile, everyone’s favourite bit of movie science, Lava isn’t hot unless you touch it, puts in an appearance, with Kirk, Elaine and Janice unhurt and unbothered despite standing only feet from the white-hot material.

Aaaaand…then it’s time for more cruelty to lizards, sigh: an iguana has rocks and dirt dumped all over it to simulate getting caught in an eruption; while another monitor bucks and “roars” in the face of burning vegetation and crumbling earth. One of this poor animal’s feet has clearly been pinned to the ground so that it can’t run away. Bastards.

Kirk, the girls and Hartley make it back to camp, where the already weakened Shannon is struck by a flying rock and further injured. Throughout the night, the survivors cringe and huddle as burning debris sails over them, missing by inches. Me, I’d’ve moved further away—but like I said, what do I know?

The dawn finds the eruption stopping, although the volcano continues to send clouds of smoke into the atmosphere. Martin Shannon lies at death’s door. He lasts only long enough to tell Kirk to, “Look after Elaine” before breathing his last. Elaine, who has coped with her friend [sic.] Nancy’s fiery death without batting an eyelid, does manage to squeeze out a tear or two at the passing of her erstwhile fiancé.

Nancy.……………………………………………………………Not Nancy.
(Note that after all that, they got the strap of her dress over the wrong shoulder!)

Meanwhile, Janice, a practical girl, has her eye on the horizon, and sees—a ship! Yes, it’s the Hamilton Queen! But what’s this!? Captain Tallman thinks no-one could have survived the eruption, and orders his men to turn for home!!

But, phew! At the very last moment, one of the crew spots something on the beach. Tallman grabs the telescope—and sees Kirk, Elaine and Janice, all grouped together in a charming family portrait.

And so Our Heroes are rescued. Elaine, relieved of the “obligations” that were keeping her in Queensland (aka her dead father and her dead fiancé), is happy to sail off into the sunset with Kirk; and the last shot in the film is a sketch of the two of them at the wheel of the Hamilton Queen, striking the kind of pose later found on the cover of any number of romance novels, and usually involving Fabio. The End.

Except for one thing: okay, the island is one of the “lost worlds” of the title, but what’s the other? I can only assume that the writers were referring to the state of Queensland—and that’s just bloody rude…

“Ehh, they look like they’re doing all right. Turn the ship around!”

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9 Responses to Two Lost Worlds (1951)

  1. dawn says:

    It took some creativity to turn Nancy’s prim, high-neckline dress, with ruffles, into that cave-girl tunic. I’ve done some tailoring to my clothes, but I don’t think I could have done it that easily.


    • lyzmadness says:

      It’s a little known fact that 19th century women’s dresses came in breakaway variants…

      Also, neither of them seem to have been wearing petticoats. Hussies!


      • dawn says:

        It reminds me of an episode of Living Single, where Regine designs an evening gown for a character on the soap opera she works for. Maxine steals it to wear to an event, unaware that it’s actually designed for a cat-fight for the character, and will fall apart at the slightest tug.


  2. GeniusLemur says:

    You know what happens on long, risky ventures for those who “ignore the dangers” and “see only the dream?” They tend to die. You know, because they ignored the dangers.


  3. RogerBW says:

    Not just the lost world, but two lost worlds. Twice as good!

    1830, Vanuatu, you say. Well, you’ve got some whaling ships, and sandalwood harvesters until it runs out a few decades later. Not exactly the sort of high-value low-bulk goods a pirate is after.

    GeniusLemur: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll die in pitiless vacuum hundreds of thousands of miles from home.”


  4. Kent says:

    Way back when I was about 12 or 13 (which is well-nigh 50 years ago …) one of the local channels had a “midnight monster movie” on Friday nights, which I would stay up and watch. My father worked the swing-shift and got home a little after midnight, so we’d generally watch the movie together. One night, the feature was “Two Lost Worlds”. When it ended, we looked at each other and basically said, “What the heck did we just watch?”


    • lyzmadness says:

      That seems like the only reasonable reaction. Other than Australians with a sufficient grasp of their own history, I can’t imagine who would get anything out of this.


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