Monday, 26 January 2015

Lost World: Marguerite White and other Lost World heroines

"The plateau!  The plateau!" cried Marguerite White.  She drew her revolver to fire a celebratory shot into the air, turning back to look at the straggling crocodile of men laboring up the dusty path behind her. The lost plateau loomed over them at last.  They had spent weeks getting to this point and she had spent a considerable amount of money.  She would have expected rather more enthusiasm from her male companions at the first sight of their goal.  They trudged upwards, looking at their feet, as they approached her at the top of the ridge.  She could understand the professors not being in the best of shape but Malone was a disappointment.  And as for Lord Roxton!  "Do come along Roxton!  Stiffen up the sinews!  Summon up the blood!  If gossip is believed that seems to be your greatest talent, anyway!" she said.

Roxton muttered under his breath.  There she was, striking a pose as usual, flaunting her stomach like a Circassian dancing girl.  Most unladylike. He felt like putting her over his knee and spanking her.  Except, of course, she was his paymaster.  Or paymistress.  The latter epithet sounded a lot more entertaining, he thought, dropping his pack at the top of the ridge.

"You are a very fit young woman, Marguerite!" said Roxton, gazing at her abdomen.

"You are not the first man to say that!" she smiled.

"Will there really be prehistoric creatures on the plateau?" mused Malone.

"Of course!" cried Challenger.

"Of course not!" said Summerlee.

"More importantly will we find my dear cousin, Veronica?" asked Marguerite.  She gazed at the huge ascent ahead.  How could her cousin possibly have survived for two years up there?

Marguerite White, daughter of Maple White, is my non-literary nod to the various women who have appeared in various screen adaptions of The Lost World.  In Arthur Conan Doyle's original novel the only major female character was the perfidious Gladys Hungerton, who remained at home in England.  However, in every subsequent film or TV adaption an adventurous woman has been included alongside Malone, Challenger, Summerlee, Roxton and (sometimes) Zambo.  The idea being, no doubt, to add glamour (initially) or provide a free spirited female role model (latterly).  I have already painted my main characters but was struggling to find a suitable female to give my team more of a Hollywood, rather than literary feel. However thanks to Mr Gordon Richards, who pointed out that Steve Saleh's Lucid Eye miniatures are now being sold by Arcane Scenery and Models I now have my female explorer.  Properly equipped with various packs she daringly wears trousers but does not have the jodhpurs so many Pulp heroines are sculpted with, as they would not be worn by women until after Coco Chanel adopted them in 1920.  My adventuress is the daughter of Maple White, so she is likely to have picked up some of the appropriate survival skills and not just be a screaming liability.   Here we have a look at her equivalents from film and TV.


Just thirteen years after Conan Doyle's book was published, Hollywood made The Lost World (1925) which was a silent film, of course.  It did, however, feature stop motion dinosaurs by Willis O'Brien, eight years before his creatures in King Kong (1933), although the river scenes were shot in Los Angeles' open sewers. 

Bessie Love in The Lost World (1925)

In this version of the story our leading lady is Paula White who is none other than the daughter of the explorer Maple White, who originally discovered the dinosaur infested plateau.  Incidentally,  I always thought that Maple was an extraordinary choice for a character's first name.  Very curious indeed. Anyway, after their adventure, White's daughter ends up with Malone after he discovers that Gladys has got married in his absence. A common occurrence for the female characters in the screen adaptions.  Paula was played by actress Bessie Love (1898-1986) the daughter of a Texan cowboy who had been discovered by DW Griffith.  Due to her part in The King on Main Street (1925) she became the first woman to be filmed dancing the Charleston.  She set the standard for the masculine-clothed, jodhpurs-wearing, armed adventuress in subsequent films.

I could not call my heroine Paula, however, as I knew someone called Paula White and it would provoke all the wrong thoughts, so I chose Marguerite as her first name because the Steve Saleh figure has something about the character played by Rachel Blakely in the Canadian TV series (see below).


There were a couple of radio adaptions in the forties but the next film wasn't until 1960. When Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (the TV series of which would star David Hedison who appears as Malone) creator Irwin Allen produced the next adaption.  Allen actually employed the 1925 production's Willis O'Brien to produce concept sketches of the dinosaurs but was unable to afford stop motion creatures in the end.  Instead, his team stuck fins on real reptiles and produced footage that appeared in many subsequent productions, including Hammer's cavegirl classic, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970).  The film is set in Venezuela (rather than the book's Bolivia) but is set in the present day (as was the 1925 version) so the explorers arrive on the plateau by helicopter.

Jill St John

The gratuitous female explorer in this was Jennifer Holmes, who was the daughter of the newspaper owner financing the expedition.  Holmes was played by Jill St John (as annoying but picturesque as ever) dressed, for, much of the film, in very unexplorer like pink slacks.


It would be over thirty years until the next version and 1992's Canadian production of The Lost World, starring John Rhys-Davies as Challenger.  This was actually set in 1912 and was closer in plot to the novel.  Relocating the action from South America to Africa it was, at least, shot on location in Zimbabwe.  The film actually had a sequel made at the same time with the same cast, where devious Belgian and Portuguese oil drillers get their comeuppance for trying to ruin the plateau.

Tamara Gorski

Our female adventurer is this is Jenny Nielson a wildlife photographer (in 1912?) whose parents are rich arts benefactors so she funds the expedition herself.  Played by Canadian actress Tamara Gorski, she is an early animal rights activist.  Perhaps this is why she is dressed in white, like an escapee from a Ralph Lauren advert.


There was only a six year wait for the next version and it's another Canadian production. This one takes place in 1939 and is set in Mongolia (filmed in Quebec) with the tropical, Shangri-La like plateau being shot in British Colombia.

Jane Heitmeyer

We have another version of Maple White's daughter, this time named Amanda, who insists on travelling with the men.  She is played by another Canadian actress, Jane Heitmeyer who is best known for her appearance in three seasons of Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict.


Just a year later we were given The Lost World's first TV version which was actually entitled Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World and ran for three series and 66 episodes.  This was also set at the time of the novel and, at least initially, vaguely followed the original story before turning into "lost tribe of the week".  This was a Canadian (they love The Lost World in Canada)/Australian production filmed in the Gold Coast, Australia, close to where I'm a Celebrity get me Out of Here is shot.   Michael Sinelnikoff, who played Summerlee in the 1998 film, returns as Summerlee in this but the rest of the cast is different.

Rachel Blakely

Again our lady explorer, Marguerite Krux, is also the expedition's financier, in the really rather splendid form of Australian actress Rachel Blakely.


The next, and so far final, TV production was the BBC version from 2001, starring Bob Hoskins and filmed in New Zealand.  Also a period piece, it was produced by the team behind Walking with Dinosaurs, so the prehistoric creatures are excellent.

Elaine Cassidy

The obligatory woman in this is Agnes Kerr, the daughter of a priest.  Irish actress Elaine Cassidy portrays Agnes as another modern young lady.


The final version, to date, of the story, The King of the Lost World (2005) is set in the present day and bears very little resemblance to the original story and is more akin to King Kong, of which it was a (very) cheap rip-off, being released just before Peter Jackson's epic effort..

In this film our lady is actually Rita Summerlee a character who replaces the professor and is played by Sarah Lieving.  This is the only one of these films I do not own on DVD so I cannot tell you which one of these ladies is Sarah Lieving and as the reviews are so bad I don't think I will bother to buy it.

As a completist, I should point out the existence of the films Lust World (1999) and Lust World 2 (2001).  In the first, which I do confess to owning (thanks to Sophie!), three people are shipwrecked on an island and discover some of the worst stop-motion dinosaurs ever, cavegirls and primitive tribesmen.

Nikki Andersson

One of the three castaways is a rather well-fed lady called Jill, played by Nikki Andersson, who must be a geologist as she notes that the island is made from strange rock for the region.  However, it soon turns out that it is something else rhyming with rock that she is an expert in.

I do not own Lust World 2 so cannot comment on it but I am sure it is more of the same (albeit with a different cast).  I have seen a trailer and it features some amusing men in a rubber suit dinosaurs very similar to those from the Doug McLure epic The People that Time Forgot.  One key point to make as regards these two films is that they both feature cavegirls so I will have to have a cavegirl or two for my lost world scenarios. The appearance of these in The Lost World is a whole separate post, however.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Lost World Monster Hunters!

I finished another two figures today to complete my initial Lost World force.  From left to right we have Zambo, Edward Malone, Professor Challenger, Professor Summerlee and Lord John Roxton.  They are a mixture of Foundry Darkest Africa and Copplestone Castings High Adventure series.   Challenger was the one I was struggling with but I found I had a spare Foundry John Hanning Speke figure which had an appropriately large beard so after a bit of surgery and the addition of a Greenstuff jacket I had something usable and a little different from the original figure.

Now I may add a defiantly non-literary woman to the plateau-ascending group as a nod to all their cinematic incarnations.  However, finding a good adventuress for 1912 will be tricky.  By 1912 corsets were still worn (they would survive until just after WW1) giving a slimline look with long straight skirts and loose blouses.  Most of the female 28mm figures are either mid-Victorian (crinolines and full skirts), late Victorian, (small bustles, fitted bodices) or nineteen twenties and thirties (mid-calf skirts or jodphurs - first worn by women following Coco Chanel in 1921).  More research needed! 

Back from the Future: Lost World monster hunters for In Her Majesty's Name...

Lord John Roxton tracks something that has escaped the plateau

I've been wondering about putting together my own company for In Her Majesty's Name but every time I think of something someone else has already done it.  Now, however, I have an idea of something that might work and which will also help start me on another project I have had percolating away for some years now.

Neovenator: the Isle of Wight's very own dinosaur

I have been planning a Lost World project for some time and have been steadily collecting model dinosaurs from a variety of sources, including Copplestone Castings, the British Museum shop and various seaside shops on the Isle of Wight which is, of course, officially Dinosaur Island this year.

Copplestone Castings figure from the Dinosaur Hunter's pack

It was just a matter of finding the right figures for the Lost World characters.  Searching through the lead pile I found figures for most of the characters I need from Foundry's Darkest Africa and Copplestone's High Adventure ranges. So here is the first from my Lost World/Monster Hunters company, Lord John Roxton, who I painted over the weekend.  I really like this figure, with his backpack and blanket roll, but the shorts are really wrong for Victorian times.

Conan Doyle's version of the four adventurers

The Lost World project will look at the successor to the Professor Challenger expedition which, at the end of The Lost World novel, was going to include just Roxton and Malone.  I will have both Summerlee and Challenger join the expedition at the last minute.  I found figures for Malone and Summerlee quite quickly but Challenger was, er, a challenge.  I needed someone, ideally, with a very big beard! The problem is now solved and I hope to finish painting all three, plus the usually forgotten character of Zambo, in the next week.

Jill St John in The Lost World (1960)

This also gives me the opportunity to field a suitably feisty female character.  Every film or TV version has added a gratuitous female adventurer to the expedition: Paula White (Bessie Love) in the 1925 version,  Jennifer Holmes (Jill St John) in the 1960 version, Jennie Nielsen (Tamara Gorski) in the two John Rhys-Davies 1992 films, Amanda White (Jayne Heitmeyer) in the 1998 version, Marguerite Krux (Rachel Blakely - rather splendid) in the 1999 Canadian TV series and Agnes Cluny (Elaine Cassidy) in the 2001 BBC version, which is probably my favourite dramatisation even if it does, as do all the versions, play fast and loose with the plot and characters.

A rather gratuitously wet Elaine Cassidy in the BBC's The Lost World from 2001

Conan Doyle was not always very internally consistent with his characters so, while she isn't mentioned in The Lost World, in The Land of Mists (1926) Challenger has an adult daughter, Enid, who Malone takes a shine to and eventually marries.  I have a few feisty females for my Darkest Africa Zambezi project and they would work for the late nineteenth Century setting of IHMN but not so well for the just pre-WW1 setting of The Lost World.  The Copplestone Female archaeologists pack has some good young ladies but the two best ones are wearing jodhpurs, which did not become fashionable wear for women until Coco Chanel wore them in 1921.

She designed her own costumes for the series, you know

I think there is also a place for a plateau-stranded wild beauty, like the potently named (for the Legatus, anyway) Veronica, as played by the lovely Jennifer O'Dell in the Canadian TV series Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (1999-2002).  One of the several not Jane figures will work for her, I think.

There is also the opportunity, as hinted at in some of the later Challenger books, of including German spies out to discover the diamonds of Maple White Land.

So, that's The Lost World project nearly sorted but how do I get characters from around 1910 back to the late nineteenth century?  The answer of course is a time portal.  I did toy with the idea of some kind of stargate but have settled instead on a sparkling anomaly.  This will transfer a plague of prehistoric creatures onto the streets of London followed, fortuitously by the group of experienced dinosaur hunters who ran into a similar anomaly up on the plateau.  It is a London slightly different from the one they experienced in their younger days, however.   In Conan Doyle's books Lord Roxton was a friend of Sherlock Holmes so there is no doubt who the consulting detective would call in to deal with the flocks of feral reptiles terrorising the East End as well as some of the other monstrous creatures abroad in the fog-bound alleys of Whitechapel.  Roxton was a great anti-slaver so it would be quite possible for him to appear in the Zambezi taking on the Arab slavers, who appear to have captured some form of monstrous creature: She-who-must-be fed.

The real problem will be working out statistics for the IHMN company but the authors of the rules have supplied (I think) the means to calculate these. Also others are creating their own, rather excellent, companies which can now be found on the In Her Majesty's Name site.

So, another project!  Hooray!