The Lost Special (serial)

The Lost Special is a 1932 American Pre-Code Universal movie serial based on the story The Lost Special by Arthur Conan Doyle. This adaptation does not include Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes, and moves events to the American West.

The Lost Special
Directed byHenry MacRae
Produced byHenry MacRae
Written byElla O'Neill
George Morgan
George H. Plympton
Basil Dickey
Arthur Conan Doyle (original story)
StarringFrank Albertson
Ernie Nevers
Cecilia Parker
Caryl Lincoln
CinematographyJohn Hickson
Edited byAlvin Todd
Edward Todd
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • December 5, 1932 (1932-12-05) (U.S.)
Running time
12 chapters (240 minutes)
CountryUnited States

This was the 84th serial (and the 16th serial with sound) to be released by Universal.

Plot overview

A special train carrying gold bullion is hijacked on its way from the Golconda Mine. Laying down portable tracks, the bandits take the train off the main line, hide it in an abandoned mine shaft, steal the gold, and pick up their makeshift tracks, leaving a mystery in their wake. Part owner of the mine, Potter Hood, and the railroad president, Horace Moore, search for the mysteriously disappeared train and gold. They are unaware, however, that the criminals are working secretly for Sam Slater, the other partner in the gold mine, who wants to sabotage mine operations enough that he can take over completely. Potter's son, Tom Hood, arrives home from college and determines to solve the mystery with the aid of his pal Bob Collins. They board the gold-shipment special train on its next run. Meanwhile, newspaper reporter Betty Moore – who is niece to the railroad president – and her friend Kate Bland begin their own investigation. After the four youths foil an attempt at a second heist, they join forces. The next 11 chapters show the characters' attempts to locate the "Lost Special" train and identify the ringleader.[1]

As is typical in serial films, each episode ends on a cliff-hanger. For example: the two girls are driving in a car along a road that parallels the speeding train, when a henchman's revolver shatters the windshield of Betty's car, blinding her and sending her car toward the on-rushing train. Other cliff-hanger endings include a runaway car sailing off the cliff into a lake and our heroes being trapped by rising water in a dungeon.[1]




The advertising for the serial stated:

"Another BIG-AUTHOR serial from the same studios that gave you Peter B. Kyne's Heroes of the West and Talbot Mundy's Jungle Mystery"

"Terrifically fast, tremendously thrilling, and packed right with the sort of mystery that only the touch of a master writer can give!"[2]

The Lost Special was Universal's 84th serial. In terms of Universal's serials in the sound era, it was the 16th.[4][5] The series was written by veteran Universal serial writers, including Basil Dickey, George Morgan, and George Plympton.[1] The director was Henry MacRae. By the time he directed The Lost Special, MacRae had directed more than 100 short films and feature films.[6]

Chapter titles

  1. The Lost Special
  2. Racing Death
  3. The Red Lantern
  4. Devouring Flames
  5. The Lighting Strikes
  6. The House of Mystery
  7. The Tank Room Terror
  8. The Fatal Race
  9. Into the Depths
  10. The Jaws of Death
  11. The Flaming Forest
  12. Retribution


Each of the 12 chapters ran 20 minutes, for a total series screen time of 240 minutes.[5]

See also


  1. Blake, Jerry. "The Lost Special". The Files of Jerry Blake, Operator 99. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  2. Harmon, Jim; Donald F. Glut (1973). "5. Real Life Heroes "Just Strangle the Lion in Your Usual Way"". The Great Movie Serials: Their Sound and Fury. Routledge. p. 115. ISBN 978-0-7130-0097-9.
  3. "Taglines for The Lost Special (1932)". the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  4. "Watch The Lost Special Free Online". Online Video Guide. OVGuide. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  5. "The Lost Special (1932)". the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  6. "Henry MacRae (1876–1944)". the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved September 7, 2012.
  7. Cline, William C. (1984). "Filmography". In the Nick of Time. McFarland & Company, Inc. pp. 207. ISBN 0-7864-0471-X.
Preceded by
Jungle Mystery (1932)
Universal Serial
The Lost Special (1932)
Succeeded by
Clancy of the Mounted (1933)

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