Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 17, 2016


ONE MILLION B.C. (1940). Director: Hal Roach; Hal Roach, Jr.

A young couple take refuge in a cave, where they are told the ancient story of two lovers, Tumak (Victor Mature) and Loana (Carole Landis). The two come from different tribes -- the Rock people and the Shell people --  with Tumak's people being the more bestial of the two. Tumak is literally thrown out of their cavern by his own father, then makes his way alone until he encounters Loana. In addition to dealing with assorted human passions and jealousies, there are also a variety of carnivorous monsters to deal with. When an especially large and voracious dinosaur corners a group of Loana's people in their cavern, members of both tribes team up to banish the beast. One Million B.C. ignores the fact that human beings and dinosaurs did not ever co-exist, but tells a lively story anyhow, and there are plenty of monsters. The T-Rex -- actually someone wearing a T Rex outfit -- is laughable, but there are also the giant armadillo, a big gator in a fight with a huge lizard, and the humongous creature that shows up at the finale. The optical work is good for the most part, with an exciting earthquake (featuring a great shot showing a lava stream engulfing a woman as she tries to cross in front of it), and there's a very good score by Werner R. Heymann. The aforementioned lava stream shot, the battling giants, and the creature at the cave all turned up in numerous subsequent movies as stock footage. Mature [Kiss of Death] and Landis [Out of the Blue] give good performances, and Lon Chaney Jr. is effective as Akhoba. Remade by Ray Harryhausen in the seventies. Hal Roach also directed The Devil's Brother with Laurel and Hardy.

Verdict: Stone age lovers versus monsters! ***.


angelman66 said...

I've never seen this one, Bill, looks like I should like this more than the Raquel Welch remake, which I didn't enjoy. Love Victor Mature, and Carole Landis was very talented...did she commit suicide? I seem to remember some tragedy...


William said...

Yes, supposedly she killed herself after she was rejected by Rex Harrison. Pity. In situations like this the remaining person feels bad for about five minutes than goes on with his life.