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One Million B.C. (AD 1940)
Topic Started: Apr 1 2013, 09:27 AM (634 Views)
Laughing Gravy
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Groundbreaking special effects used for years and years as stock footage; prehistoric adventure directed by Hal Roach and Hal Roach, Jr. I really like this movie, which isn't on DVD but I've had the old Nostalgia Merchant VHS for about 25 years. It still plays fine. Ain't it funny how time slips away?

As our saga opens, a group of hikers seek shelter from a storm, and the sight of Victor Mature in lederhosen probably made anybody watching this think they were about to see a comedy, but NO. Conrad Nagel is an expert on prehistoric life, and he's in the cave studying the drawings on the wall, so he tells our little short-pantsed troupe the story the pictures tell... many, many years ago... *key wayback machine*

Vic is the son of Lon Chaney, Jr. (Lon was actually only 7 years older, but hey, makeup is a family tradition), and they are part of a tribe called the Rock People, who smash up hotel rooms and... okay, okay, I'll be serious. They live in the rocks, and kill stuff, and fight over carcasses, and don't share, and when somebody gets hurt they walk off and leave him to die. Well, Vic pisses off daddy by demanding a second helping at dinner (or something like that, nobody speaks English in this movie, and I don't mean the way Bela Lugosi or Maria Montez didn't speak English, I mean they say things like "Barak! Barak Tigmama!" when they point to something, and we're supposed to either figure out what they're saying or not care). Victor wanders from the land of rocks and boulders to the land of plants and flowers and pretty girls, where the Shell Tribe lives. They share things, have good manners, sing songs after supper, and generally lead clean, upstanding, wholesome lives. He falls for pretty Carole Landis, and she him, so when he tries to steal a spear and ends up banished (what, AGAIN!?!?) she goes with him. A volcano erupts, and only by the two peoples, Rock and Shell, working together can mankind hope to survive long enough to invent the spork.

Okay, enough of that nonsense. We're here to see DINOSAURS, and plenty of 'em. (I know what you're thinkin', but if Conrad Nagel says dinosaurs and Victor Mature lived in the same time period, that's good enough for me). Here, the two Roaches (so to speak) really pulled out the stops, as we have alligators with fins glued to their backs, guys in rubber suits, pigs wearing triceratops masks, optically-enlarged iguanas and armadillos, and of course elephants wearing shaggy coats. This film played on TCM recently and I got a complaining text from a friend about the mistreatment of these poor lizards, and I can't disagree that they seem to have been pretty roughly handled during all this, but that aside, this is a massively entertaining spectacle and there's much to admire here.

The senior Roach hired D.W. Griffith to serve as Executive Producer of the film, and supposedly Griffith directed the screen tests. The two men had a falling out over something or other, and Griffith had his name removed from the film.

It's too bad WW2 was going on (for a lot of reasons, obviously) because this film would've no doubt been a huge hit overseas, with Mr. Nagel dubbed for the first scene into whatever language the natives were speaking. As it was, it was a sizeable hit for the Roach studio and as mentioned, they got a lot of mileage out of renting stock footage for many years. One Million B.C. got two Oscar nominations, one for the impressive musical score (by Werner R. Heymann); with all the nonsense-dialog going on, a good score was needed. The film was remade in 1966 as One Million Years B.C., with Raquel Welch and Ray Harryhausen special effects.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Frank Hale
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I had this on laser, and it’s surprising that it was never released on DVD.

Everyone’s seen it , and I can’t think of anything new or interesting to say, other than it always reminds of the very sad story of Carole Landis.

Geez, so what’s goin’ on, Gravy? You’ve been watching and reviewing about 4 films a day!
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Laughing Gravy
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I'm working on some writing and keeping films I haven't watched before going on the TV set over there *points over there* while I work. If you call this work. I have been running down my categories on this here message board, just posted a jungle picture, so I guess a war movie is next. Taking a break while I work on the DVD Calendar and listen to the new Stereophonics album.

I had seen One Million B.C. before, but it's been about 20 years, so I figured what the hell, I still have the VHS tape. I had forgotten the whole lederhosen thing. Anyway, the movie was on my mind because of the text I got when TCM showed it the other day. (I get texts a lot from people watching TCM. A LOT. I have no TV service, so I'm never watching what they're watching, but I can answer questions, give opinions, and sympathize.)

As for it not being on DVD, well, United Artists films are all over the map, particularly the ones Hal Roach produced. Who knows who owns the damn thing these days?

Thank you for noticing my efforts to keep you entertained, Mr. H.

As for Miss Landis, for those of you who don't know, she was, to say the least, unlucky in love and killed herself at the age of 29 when her current flame, Rex Harrison, refused to leave his wife and marry her.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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Laughing Gravy
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One Million B.C. (April 1940) Dir. Roach & Roach Jr.

Watched this again as part of my monster movie retrospective. I really liked the sets and the special effects (such as they were, I'm not in favor of gluing fins on live lizards and then poking them with a little spear) and the hairdo on Miss Landis, which looks really cute considering it's prehysterical times.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Somebody to somebody else: "Picasso!" "Picasso?" "Picasso! Picasso!" "Picasso."

No idea, but when it was all over, Tumak pointed to his mom and Luana nodded her head vigorously.

Lost out for its Special Effects on Oscar night to Thief of Baghdad, in case you're wondering. I followed this thing up with two Charley Chase shorts from 1934, I'll Take Vanilla and Fate's Fathead. Good times.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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panzer the great & terrible
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There's an old rumor that D. W. Griffith had something to do with this movie. Hard to believe he would work for Hal Roach after his troubles with Paramount. Anyway, he's uncredited.
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Laughing Gravy
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Yeah, Richard Lewis Ward in his "History of Hal Roach Studios" tells the whole story; basically, Roach wanted Griffith as a consultant for Of Mice and Men and One Million B.C. and perhaps additional pictures; a letter is quoted, "I need help from the production side to select the proper writers, cast, etc., and to help me generally in the supervision of these pictures."

Griffith did some preliminary work, shot some tests, etc., but then left the project pretty much in a huff. Roach then tried to bill One Million B.C. as a "D.W. Griffith Production" but Mr. Griffith was having none of that.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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panzer the great & terrible
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Imagine if Griffith had been involved in "Of Mice and Men!" It would have been a different picture. For one thing, he probably wouldn't have cast Chaney as Lenny.
Life is just a bowl of cherries, it's too mysterious, don't take it serious...
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Laughing Gravy
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I updated my review for In The Balcony, and in case y'all haven't seen it: the new Blu-ray is absolutely beautiful, way more than I'd hoped for. If the future Hal Roach library looks this good, we all will want to live a long, long time to enjoy these things.

http://inthebalcony.com/onemillionbc.html
Edited by Laughing Gravy, Sep 16 2017, 04:14 PM.
"I'm glad that this question came up, because there are so many ways to answer it that one of them is bound to be right." - Robert Benchley
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