Review: ‘One Million B.C.’

One Million B.C. looks something like A.D.1910; it's that corny. Except for the strange-sounding grunts and monosyllabic dialog, it is also another silent. Hal Roach, who spent a lifetime making comedies, goes to the other extreme as producer of the prehistoric spectacle, filmed in Nevada. D.W. Griffith was associated with Roach in production of the film at the beginning but withdrew following dissension concerning casting and other angles. His name does not appear in the credits.

One Million B.C. looks something like A.D.1910; it’s that corny. Except for the strange-sounding grunts and monosyllabic dialog, it is also another silent. Hal Roach, who spent a lifetime making comedies, goes to the other extreme as producer of the prehistoric spectacle, filmed in Nevada. D.W. Griffith was associated with Roach in production of the film at the beginning but withdrew following dissension concerning casting and other angles. His name does not appear in the credits.

There isn’t much sense to the action nor much interest in the characters. Majority of the animals fail to impress but the fight between a couple of lizards, magnified into great size, is exciting and well photographed. The ease with which some of the monsters are destroyed by man is a big laugh, notably the way one is subdued with a fishing spear. Knocking off a giant iguana is another audience snicker.

On occasion, also, the actions of the characters, including Victor Mature, bring a guffaw. He plays the part ox-like and the romantic interest, with Carole Landis on the other end, fails to ignite. Chaney Jr carves a fine characterization from the role of a tribal chieftain.

The story, pretty thin, relates to the way common dangers serve to wash up hostilities between the Rock and Shell clans, with a note of culture developed by the heroine (Landis) who astonishes the lads of the stone age when she sees to it that the women are to be served first, and the roast dinosaur (or whatever it is) is cut off in hunks with a rock knife, instead of torn off by the hands.

1940: Nominations: Best Original Score, Special Effects

One Million B.C.

Production

Roach/United Artists. Director Hal Roach, Hal Roach Jr; Producer Hal Roach; Screenplay Mickell Novak, George Baker, Joseph Frickert, Grover Jones; Camera Norbert Brodine; Editor Ray Snyder; Music Werner R. Heymann; Art Director Charles D. Hall, Nicolai Remisoff

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1940. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Victor Mature Carole Landis Lon Chaney Jr John Hubbard Mamo Clark Nigel de Brulier
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