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One Million B.C.
Tumak, der Herr des Urwalds / Cave Man / Man and his Mate / Battle of the Giants / The Cave Dwellers

USA 1940
produced by
Hal Roach, D.W. Griffith for Hal Roach Studios/United Artists
directed by Hal Roach, Hal Roach jr
starring Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Lon Chaney jr, Conrad Nagel, John Hubbard, Nigel De Brulier, Mamo Clark, Inez Palange, Edgar Edwards, Jacqueline Dalya, Mary Gale Fisher, Norman Budd, Harry Wilson, John Northpole, Lorraine Rivero, Harold Howard, Ricca Allen, Adda Gleason, Edward Coxen, Ben Hall, Creighton Hale, Audrey Manners, Rosemary Theby, Patricia Pope, Chuck Stubbs
written by Mickell Novak, George Baker, Joseph Frickert, narration written by Grover Jones, music by Werner R. Heymann, visual effects by Roy Seawright, Jack Shaw, Frank Young

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Now: A group of wanderers lose their way in the mountains and stumble upon a cave inhabited by a professor (Conrad Nagel), who soon starts to lecture his unexpected guests on the cavepaintings he has been spending his time deciphering, telling a story of love and dinosaurs and everything else - one million B.C. ...

One million B.C.: Tumak (Victor Mature) is a young warrior of the savage Rock People, who only live on the principle of survival of the fittest, with the strongest hunter of the tribe, Okhoba (Lon Chaney jr) - Tumak's father, incidently -, also being the natural leader. One day, Tumak raises his hand against his father, and is expelled from the tribe for this. After an accident he floats down the river unconscious, until he is finally picked up by Loana (Carole Landis) of the Shell People, a much more civilized and gentle tribe that has also experienced a certain technological progress: The tribe has spears for weapons, the Rock people only wooden clubs. Loana nurses Tumak back to health and teaches him the principles of sharing and caring, and eventually, Tumak does good when he saves a young girl from a dinosaur. And yet, Tumak is fascinated by the tribe's (only) spear, which is owned by his rival for Loana's attention, Ohtao (John Hubbard). Eventually, Tumak steals the spear and is therefore expelled from this tribe as well - but allowed to keep the spear. When he leaves, Loana comes with him.

Tumak returns to the Rock People, where his father has been overthrown as the leader after a hunting accident, but with his spear, Tumak quickly makes himself leader of the tribe - but Loana quickly teaches the tribe love and compassion ... and even agriculture. Soon, the Rock People are as civilized as the Shell People - and then disaster strikes as the next door volcano breaks out ... 

 

This film has a certain reputation since its dinosaur special effects were edited into a gazillion of classic and not-so-classic B-movies for a good two decades after its release - but that doesn't make the film's dinosaur effects good effects. In fact the effects are horrible, just dressed up lizards, iguanas and the like doing their thing in miniature landscapes, which even though well copied into the "human" footage is about as confincing as handpuppets would have been. That said though, special effects-wise the volcano outbreak and its aftermath look pretty cool.

But even apart from the dinosaur effects, One Million B.C. is definitely less than a classic, its a simplistic story told in an overly clichéed way without giving too much regard of pacing, and the film is acted in a way that's more befitting to a silent movie (due to the lack of dialogue) than a film from 1940 - all of which make this so much fun to watch to be sure.

Again, no classic, there's just too much wrong with this one - but it's still a charming nostalgic stone age flick that's sure to entertain those in a right state of mind.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
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Tales to Chill
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