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JEFFREY LYNN STRANDED IN 'LOST LAGOON' WITH LEILA BARRY

LOST LAGOON officially released in 1958
Of the three World War I returning veterans in Raoul Walsh's prohibition-era gangster classic THE ROARING TWENTIES, two roared like lions while one purred like a kitten...

The latter being Jeffrey Lynn, who played the third banana that James Cagney liked (even after snaking his dame) and Humphrey Bogart despised: Of course these two became huge stars and eventually legends while Lynn remained a lanky, sophisticated character-actor who never reached genuine leading man status...

Though decades later he'd make an attempt in a very low-budget, Bahamas set, Calypso-exploitation romance centering on an unhappily married middle-aged father of two, Lynn's Charlie Walker, and for the record: Neither Bogart or Cagney had a calypso song named after and sung about any of their characters: one of a small handful of natives on a small Bahamas island provides a sporadic Roman Chorus, just in case we get lost within the extremely simple plot...

A completely gorgeous Leila Barry in LOST LAGOON
That we're quickly thrown into as Lynn's Charlie takes a boat ride with his cynical brother-in-law when a big storm hits...

Charlie grabs a wad of cash as the boat's about to crunch beneath the superimposed tempest waves. And although wearing a life jacket, he doesn't get to the liferaft in time. Meanwhile, all three (including a crewman) survive...

But what matters is the not-so-deserted island Charlie gets washed up on, and especially who's on it. And you might wonder why the young and gorgeous Leila Barry didn't appear in any other films — or anything else for that matter. She's a good enough actress with a sleek and natural dream girl/girl-next-door quality — and LOST LAGOON is a middle-aged man's fantasy. Not just for Charlie, but the target audience: When she gives him a back rub, you can almost feel it...

Jeffrey Lynn and Leila Barry in LOST LAGOON
As a matter of fact, the entire picture — while no classic and without even a cult following to back up its almost deafening obscurity — has a palpable vibe throughout: the island's as real as the couple's chemistry that, while seemingly remote, safe and sublime, has enough obstacles to provide a little suspense and a few twists so LAGOON doesn't feel like what it actually is deep down — an hour-long short story, or what this kind of vehicle's actually called, a programmer — as well as a guilty pleasure...

Which doesn't always refer to a bad film someone feels guilty about liking. Co-written by Lynn, who resembles an awkward and flopppy David Niven, LAGOON delivers in deliberately light entertainment. Especially the second half, flowing beyond a somewhat clunky, far-fetched setup when Charlie gets a second wind after his already uncaring family thinks he's dead. And with the company he's got, who needs anyone else?

Leila Barry in LOST LAGOON Score: ***1//2
Leila Barry's docile yet independent character, Elizabeth Moore, who wound up on the island after her semi-rich grandfather died, or something, has more going on than a backstory of being screwed over by an ex-boyfriend back in England...

Enter an 11th hour square-jawed Peter Donat, showing up right when our hero has fallen head-over-heels in love, which is mutual but not equal. And since the plot was headed into Harlequin paperback territory, it's good that her beau and his wife (and brother-in-law along with an insurance investigator) show up. Bad timing for him is great for us: Making LOST LAGOON the opposite of a missed opportunity as it mostly avoids the guilty and revels in lightweight, time-filling, intentionally soap operatic, May-December romantic pleasure.
Leila Barry LOST LAGOON with Jeffrey Lynn
Leila Barry LOST LAGOON with Jeffrey Lynn
Leila Barry LOST LAGOON with Jeffrey Lynn
Leila Barry LOST LAGOON with Jeffrey Lynn
Leila Barry LOST LAGOON with Jeffrey Lynn
Leila Barry LOST LAGOON with Jeffrey Lynn
LOST LAGOON with Jeffrey Lynn
Hubert Smith as himself, a Calypso singing redheaded black dude
Leila Barry LOST LAGOON with Jeffrey Lynn
What kind of bar is that, Jeffrey???
Leila Barry LOST LAGOON Leila Barry
Leila Barry LOST LAGOON with Jeffrey Lynn at THAT bar again
Leila Barry LOST LAGOON with Jeffrey Lynn
Leila Barry LOST LAGOON with Jeffrey Lynn
Peter Donat in LOST LAGOON
Leila Barry LOST LAGOON with Jeffrey Lynn
The DVD cover is, strangely enough, everyone but the star helping the bro-in-law back to the boat?!?
Strangest cover ever: Helping the movie's jerk into a boat without either of the two leads shown!
Nineteen-years earlier, Jeffrey Lynn with Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney in The Roaring Twenties
Back to the older Jeffrey Lynn with wife Jane Hartley and in-law Roger Clark in LOST LAGOON
Jeffrey Lynn with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart again in THE ROARING TWENTIES
Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney with Jeffrey Lynn in THE ROARING TWENTIES
Jeffrey Lynn co-writes and stars in LOST LAGOON reviewed by James M. Tate
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