I recently discovered a film from 1987 that I had not known previously existed, and once I had done so I just had to track it down and watch it! Directed and co-written by Terry Marcel (“Hawk The Slayer”, “The Last Seduction II”) it is called “Jane And The Lost City”.
Back in the early 80s I have vague, but fond, memories of a comic strip adaptation that ran on BBC 2 in the early evenings. Based on the Daily Mirror strip created by Norman Pett that ran from 1932 until 1959 chronicling the adventures of a young lady named Jane whose outer clothes had a habit of falling off with alarming regularity, leaving her in her underwear for much of the time.
The TV series, simply called “Jane”, starred Glynis Barber as the heroine, as was a mix of live action and animation to give the appearance of a comic strip literally coming to life. Naturally the TV version of Jane also spent a great deal of time in lingerie – great stuff for a teenage boy as I was back then, bearing in mind that there was no internet and no lads’ mags then either!
So to “Jane And The Lost City”. The film opens in Africa in 1940 where some Englishmen have discovered a lost city complete with hoard of diamonds. Two of them are killed by local tribesman and the third falls into the hands of two Nazis whilst making his escape.
The Nazis lose the Englishman but take the diamond and news of the discovery of the lost city back to S.S. headquarters, where they report to Lola Pagola (Maud Adams – “Octopussy”, “The Man With The Golden Gun”) and her right hand man Heinrich (Jasper Carrott – “The Detectives”, “All About Me”).
Meanwhile, back at London Docks, The Colonel (Robin Bailey – “If You Go Down In The Woods Today”, “Commuter Husbands”) and his assistant Jane (Kirsten Hughes – “The Enid Blyton Adventure Series”, “The Kitchen Toto”) are heading to a meeting with the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. Jane’s need to retrieve her dog from a crate gives the first opportunity for The Colonel, and of course the viewer, to be treated to a flash of her stockings and suspenders.
Churchill sends The Colonel, his manservant Tombs (Graham Stark – “The Return Of The Pink Panther”, “Let’s Get Laid”) and Jane to Africa to track down the lost city and obtain the diamonds to aid the British war effort. Once they arrive ashore in Africa it seems to be quite windy, as Jane’s dress continually gets caught in the breeze.
After a run in with some locals the following morning they are rescued by Jungle Jack Buck (Sam Jones – “Flash Gordon, “Da Vinci’s War”), who takes them on a river short cut that ends up with the foursome staying at the same hotel as Lola, Heinrich and Lola’s muscle, Carl (Ian Roberts – “King Solomon’s Mines”, “Red Dust”).
The allies are in a race against time to beat the Nazis in finding the lost city and the diamonds. Amidst all this they have to try to avoid assassination attempts from Heinrich, Carl and from Heinrich’s two brothers Herman and Hans (both played by Carrott).
Another diversion comes in the form of the Leopard Queen (Elsa O’Toole – “Pretorius”, “Company Business”), who may not be what she first appears to be…
This is all light-hearted stuff with a very undemanding plot. Really this would make a great wet Sunday afternoon family movie, I reckon. However, what was acceptable in 1987 may be less so 28 years later for some.
As someone who grew up in an era of TV shows like Benny Hill and films like the Carry On series I have no problem whatsoever with movies like this that essentially have scantily clad young women at their centre. Perhaps it’s my age, perhaps I’m an old out-of-touch sexist, but I see nothing wrong in enjoying the sight of a pretty woman in nice lingerie – and to be fair surely such lingerie is designed, at least in part, to make men want to look at and appreciate the wearer?
Amongst all the adventure in this film there are obviously numerous times when Jane’s lingerie becomes a feature (though in my opinion there could and should have been more), as it did in the original comic strip and the TV series, so what ever your opinion may be on that aspect in 2015 it is at least true to the film’s origins.
Lingerie aside, there’s a nice touch to Adams’ S.S. uniform where the background to her swastika armbands is pink rather than the red that the male characters have. The Nazi accents are stereotypical (lots of words beginning with “z”) and Carrott hams it up manically in his three roles. Jones isn’t a million miles away from reprising his role as Flash Gordon and Hughes portrays Jane very well.