One Million Years B.C. (1966)

“This is a story of long, long ago — when the world was just beginning.”

Synopsis:
A caveman (John Richardson) banished from his brutal, dark-haired tribe stumbles upon the peaceful, blonde Shell Tribe, where the daughter (Raquel Welch) of the chief falls in love with him after he protects her from a dinosaur attack.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary accurately labels this “Hammer Studios remake of Hal Roach’s 1940 film … among the silliest, campiest, and dullest of the ludicrous caveman genre” — noting that “the major appeal” is undoubtedly “the scantily clad Raquel Welch, whose poster from this film adorned the walls of teenage boys worldwide back in 1966” (and earned revived notoriety when it played an essential role in The Shawshank Redemption). It’s also enjoyed by fans of the great Ray Harryhausen, whose stop-motion animation of several different dinosaurs — including a scene in which Welch is “carried off by a pterodactyl” — remains the film’s primary legitimate selling point (though it unfortunately [?] simply adds to the film’s ridiculous ahistoricity). It’s astonishing to contemplate the fact that producer Michael Carreras rewrote a script that was “conceived by three writers”, given that there’s no dialogue (other than characters occasionally grunting each other’s names) — what could they possibly have been working on?? Despite its many shortcomings, however, at least this campy remake isn’t quite as deathly dull as its predecessor — though that’s really not meant as an endorsement of any kind.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion effects


Must See?
Yes, I suppose so, simply to see the film that launched a (hundred) thousand bedroom posters — but be forewarned that it’s a campy slog.

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One Response to “One Million Years B.C. (1966)”

  1. A once-must – you just can’t say you haven’t seen this.

    OK, I was 11 years old when I saw it (on release). That more or less proves that I pretty much saw whatever came to our two local theatres.

    I don’t believe I’ve seen it since, til now. I wasn’t all that sure what to expect on a revisit. But, having just done so, I can say I don’t find it silly, campy or dull. Not at all. Yes, the history it purports to describe is bonkers. (More and more, I look for absolute ‘truth’ in cinema less and less.) But since I was, on some level, dreading returning to this film (maybe due to what I’ve read from time to time that was less than praise), imagine my surprise when I found it successful on its own terms.

    I had completely forgotten that this is your basic boy-meets-girl story! ~with prehistoric animals, just for fun.

    Highlights: Harryhausen’s stunning creatures; Mario Nascimbene’s effective score; Don Chaffey’s steady direction for something as tricky as this; a well-matched couple in Richardson and (thankfully, a rather non-verbal) Welch; the girlfight between Welch and Martine Beswick; a surprisingly gripping build to the finish.

    All told, not a bad popcorn flick – and soooo much better than the 1940 version (tho, in a sense, that wouldn’t be all that hard to accomplish).

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