THE SECRET OF THE LOCH (1934) – So America gave the world King Kong in 1933, eh? Well, the Empire strikes back! Milton Rosmer directed this neglected British film that was co-written by THE Charles Bennett and edited by THE David Lean. The Loch Ness Monster is featured and is found to be responsible for multiple mysterious deaths around the Loch, though only one on-screen instance of the monster devouring a human occurs in the movie.
Seymour Hicks stars as Professor Heggie and seems to think he’s still performing in Silent Movies, given his hilarious overacting. Heggie believes in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster but seems even less credible than modern-day people who claim to have spotted the beastie.
Frederick Peisley costars as London newspaper reporter Jimmy Anderson, who tries to get a story about the Loch Ness Monster. Australia’s Nancy O’Neil portrays Angela Heggie, the professor’s granddaughter with whom Jimmy forges a romance.
The Secret of the Loch may have been made in the U.K. but as that look at our three main characters would indicate, it plays out more like one of Bela Lugosi’s or George Zucco’s old PRC movies.
This film starts out with a Loch Ness local fleeing in terror – actually just jogging in place to pretend he’s running – from some unseen creature he claims to have spotted in the loch. Professor Heggie is among the customers in the tavern where the Scotsman reports his find, and adds his own hysterical insistence about the monster’s existence.
When newspapers descend on the area and the sightings get dismissed as “mass hallucination” the angry (or rabid – it’s hard to tell with him) Professor Heggie travels to London to meet with academics from assorted universities. Heggie presents his case for the existence of a prehistoric monster in Loch Ness but gets laughed out of the building.
The madly gesticulating professor attracts the attention of Daily Sun reporter Jimmy Anderson who decides to follow Heggie back to Loch Ness and try to get the scoop of the decade. Anderson borrows a McKnockle tartan tie from a female coworker to help him “blend in” up in Scotland.
The reporter is jokingly asked to find out what Scotsmen “wear under their kilts” in a stale kind of newsroom joke that further put me in mind of PRC.
When Jimmy arrives at Loch Ness he is crestfallen to see that plenty of other reporters have the same idea he had and want to see if the professor can provide any proof of the existence of a dinosaur in the waters of the loch. The trouble is, Professor Heggie has locked himself away in his home to avoid further ridicule.
The competitive Anderson one-ups the other reporters by breaking into Heggie’s home late at night to try to get an interview. He accidentally finds himself in the bedroom of the professor’s attractive granddaughter Angela. Insert 1930s meet cute nonsense here.
The reporter charms Angela, and her grandfather’s imposing employee Angus, played by Gibson Gowland himself. Angus wears a kilt and is such a Scotsman stereotype that he does everything but say “If it isn’t Scottish – IT’S CRAP!” In a case of “Chekhov’s tartan tie,” Angus puts his trust in Jimmy after spotting him wearing that piece of apparel from earlier in the movie.
At any rate, Professor Heggie decides to prove the existence of the Loch Ness Monster by having a diver plunge into the depths of the loch in search of the beastie. The monster makes the diver his latest victim, causing the professor to be charged with negligence in the case of the man’s death.
SPOILERS AHEAD –
To save the professor from the legal danger brought on by his obsession and to further impress his new babe Angela, Anderson decides to flush out the Loch Ness Monster himself. He succeeds in one of the goofiest parts of the movie.
Rather than a long-necked plesiosaurus, The Secret of the Loch presents an IGUANA as the Loch Ness Monster. This reluctant draftee just walks along the bottom of the loch and is a forerunner of the “dinosaurs” in One Million B.C. (1940) and of countless lizard monsters in 1950s creature features.
The monster ultimately surfaces, leaves the loch and flees to the ocean, thus ending its body count and its reign of terror. The professor is saved and the romance between Jimmy and Angela moves to the next level.
The Secret of the Loch is not as much fun as it sounds, sad to say. If you’re not a fan of old PRC cheapies like The Catman of Paris you probably won’t like this 1934 flick, either.
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