The Secret of the Loch (1934) Poster

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Strange happenings and danger in the Loch
chris_gaskin12321 March 2005
I believe The Secret of the Loch was the first movie to deal with the Loch Ness Monster. It was made in 1934, just as people started seeing strange creatures in and around Loch Ness. It was also the year "The Surgeon's Photo" was taken, only to be discovered as a hoax many years later. I found this movie quite enjoyable.

A reporter is sent to Loch Ness to investigate strange sightings and disappearances there. After asking the locals about the monster, he decides to go down into the Loch himself and the monster then appears, which is living in caves below the surface. At the end, the monster comes to the surface and swims away.

The monster used in The Secret of the Loch is a photographically enlarged lizard, which I believe doesn't even live underwater and looks nothing like a Plesiosaur, which most of the sightings describe.

The cast includes Seymour Hicks, Nancy O'Neal and Rosamund John.

The Secret of the Loch is worth watching, despite the monster being an unconvincing enlarged lizard.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
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Hoot mon! A braw bricht iguana! Warning: Spoilers
I've seen an advert for a video of 'The Secret of the Loch' which touts this as 'the first sound movie about the Loch Ness Monster' ... implying that there were several *silent* films about Nessie. I'm absolutely certain that not a single movie was made about the Loch Ness creature during the silent-film era ... because the creature was almost totally unknown until the early 1930s, when a new road brought increased traffic along the banks of the loch. Before that time, only the local people had any reason to be near the lochside, and they had better things to do than go monster-hunting.

There is *one* ancient text, purporting to describe an encounter between Saint Columba (not 'Columbia') and a bizarre creature in the River Ness which feeds the loch ... *not* in the loch itself. Except for that one account, there is absolutely no mention of any Loch Ness Monster sighting prior to the 1930s. I can think of at least two movies -- 'Doctor Dolittle' (1967) and 'The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes' (1970) -- which are set in Victorian England, and which *mention* the Loch Ness Monster -- but in both cases the reference is an anachronism. Very few Victorians had ever heard of the creature. Witness that the notorious libertine Aleister Crowley moved to Boleskine (a lodge on the banks of Loch Ness) in 1900; Crowley devotes a substantial portion of his autobiography to his exploits at Loch Ness, yet never once mentions the alleged monster. Nessie simply wasn't well-known until the 1930s.

When I made my own attempt to spot the Loch Ness Monster at Drumnadrochit, I was amused to notice that the local litter bins bore signs reading 'Look for Nessie, but don't be messy', and a snack wagon was selling Nessie Burgers. I saw plenty of tourists, but no plesiosaurs.

SPOILERS COMING. 'The Secret of the Loch' is enjoyable hokum which is full of unintended comedy, largely due to its incredibly small budget. The first shot in the film is the figure of a panic-stricken Scotsman fleeing in terror from some unseen horror ... but it's laughably obvious that this actor is actually jogging in place, in front of a stationary camera.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Gibson Gowland in this film. Born in England, this burly actor appeared in several major Hollywood films -- including 'Greed' and 'Frankenstein' -- so I was astonished that he turned up in this low-budgeter in his native Britain. Here, Gowland ponces about in a kilt and speaks his dialogue with a burr as a Highland ghillie.

Well, there's trouble at t' loch, squire, and the actors spend most of this movie trying to verify the rumours of a monster in Loch Ness while the locals mutter darkly. There is one taut scene in which a diver goes beneath the surface, communicating via radiophone. Something goes wrong down there, and his air-hose comes up without him. Was the diver eaten whole? (I'll mention here that the actual Loch Ness -- being a loch, not a lake -- has a strong current, and its waters are pitch-black. The divers in this film go below the surface with no lights, yet the water is clear and there's no current.) At the climax of the film, we do actually encounter the Loch Ness Monster, and it's a letdown that's doubly laughable. Firstly, the 'monster' is very obviously an iguana with a few extra spiny bits glued on, and photographically enlarged to seem gigantic. Secondly, the scenes depicting the monster are taking place underwater, yet it's hugely obvious that the iguana was filmed in an open-air terrarium, not a water tank. Not only does the creature look unconvincing, it even fails to convince us that it's underwater.

I'll give the makers of this film some points for trying, and some points for ingenuity in making this movie on a tuppenny budget. 'The Secret of the Loch' is enjoyable, but more for its ineptitude than anything else. Still, that scene with the vanished diver is very well done. All in all, 5 points out of 10.
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creaky old curiosity
youroldpaljim10 March 2001
This obscure British made item is a far as I can tell the first film about the loch ness monster. The year this film was made, was when the loch ness monster first began to get international notoriety. The first half deals with the comical attempts of a reporter to get the scoop on the monster from the local scientist who distrusts the press. The reporter also romances the scientists niece. The second half deals more with the search for the monster. There is a credit for underwater photography, but most of the underwater sequences look as though they were shot in a dry tank. The monster itself is played by an iguana. In one sequence the monster eats a diver. The locals also blame the monster for several strange deaths. As far I know, the only threatening encounter with the monster was the one told by Saint Columbia. Some names in credits include David Lean (editor) and Charles Bennet (writer) who wrote many scripts for Hitchcock and later Irwin Allen.
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No secret and not much of a monster either!
JohnHowardReid14 October 2006
Amateurishly inept in all departments, but you keep watching it, hoping it will improve—especially when it's time for the special effects people to finally have their innings. Alas, it gets worse. Mind you, there are one or two redeeming features, namely Rosamund John and Nancy O'Neil. In fact, it's great to see the lovely Australian actress (born in Sydney in 1911) Nancy O'Neil in her prime. Gibson Gowland is also worth our time, but the rest of the players, including hammy Hicks and pallid Peisley, are strictly from hunger. As for the tepid, treated-for-the-most-part-as-a-silly-comedy story and the absolutely woeful special effects, the less said the better.

Film editor David Lean no doubt had an uphill battle trying to give a bit of pace and credence to Milton Rosmer's lethargic direction which misses out on just about every quality that makes a movie worth watching, including believability, atmosphere and pace.

Available on DVD through Sinister Cinema. Quality rating: seven out of ten.
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Mild Entertainment
Michael_Elliott29 February 2008
Secret of the Loch, The (1934)

** (out of 4)

British film about a news reporter going to find out the truth about the Loch Ness Monster and a scientist (Seymore Hicks) who claims it's real. I believe this was the first film to deal with the legendary creature and for the most part it's a real disappointment. There's all sorts of questions asked and discussed so the monster doesn't appear until the final comments. When it does appear the low budget movie just uses some sort of lizard for the special effect. Hicks is madly over the top and keeps the film moving somewhat well.
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NerdBat13 May 2018
One of the first films ever made to really address the issue of the Loch Ness Monster, this film sorta made headway while also taking a few steps back. We do good with the plot, sorta? We have more going on between two people who are crushing on each other than the monster itself. My biggest disappointment though was the fact that they didn't use stop motion models, or even fixed pose heads. They used a green Iguana for the monster. So instead of our general view of the monster being an aquatic flippered Plesiosaur, we have a massive, ACTUAL lizard walking around on the "lake bottom". It had a good concept but it kinda just...doesn't work as good for this kind of movie. It wasn't bad, but it was..well, it will leave you scratching your head.
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