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Flight of the Lost Balloon Reviews

A quickie rip-off of the popular AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS (1956) with a low-cost cast, this period piece features Thompson in the unflappable David Niven role. Theater patrons were advised upon entering the lobby that the wild, erratic flight of the title balloon, as depicted on the screen, might require them to consume antinausea pills. The thought was a sound one, but for reasons other than those stated by the promoters. Playing the comic villain is Lanphier, in what is basically the Cantinflas part--an acquisitive Hindu who journeys to Victorian London to persuade the directors of the Geographic Society to mount a rescue mission to save famed explorer Kennedy, a captive in a secret dungeon on the Nile River. It is all part of a diabolical plot; Lanphier is, in truth, Kennedy's captor, hoping to force him to reveal the location of Cleopatra's entombed treasures. Thompson elects to lead the rescue team, joined by Lanphier and Kennedy's fiancee, Powers. Setting out in a balloon, the intrepid adventurers are beset by peril with every gust of wind, the top-hatted Thompson meeting every challenge with phlegmatic British imperturbability. Upon the ultimate arrival of the trio at the dungeon, the curvaceous Powers is the victim of unspeakable tortures, Lanphier's method of wringing Kennedy's secret from his hitherto mute mouth. Kennedy, as greedy as his captor, keeps his own counsel even as the callipygian cutie is stretched on the rack. But wait! As the horrible Hindu savors Powers' suffering, our hero loosens his bonds and saves Powers and himself. Hoist by his own petard, Kennedy dies attempting to cram the treasure into the balloon's basket. The noble Thompson and the nubile Powers take off for home, jettisoning the jewels to lighten the load save for one diamond, to be fitted into an engagement ring for Powers. With decent dialog and effects, and a dash of real wit, this adventure romp, with some location sequences in Puerto Rico, might have been in a class with the later "Indiana Jones" series. Alas, it lacks any of the elements that might have saved it.