One Million B.C. (1940)

“Pity and compassion played little part in the existence of those people– They despised weakness, worshipped strength!”

During the prehistoric era, an outcast member of the brutal Rock Tribe (Victor Mature) falls in love with a woman from the gentler Shell Tribe (Carole Landis).


This “historical epic” by producer/director Hal Roach — infamously remade in 1966 with Raquel Welch — was the top-grossing film of 1940, and marked the debut of big-chested Victor Mature as a leading man. It received good reviews upon its release (with the New York Times referring to it as a “masterpiece of imaginative fiction”), and still has a devoted set of fans clamoring for its release on DVD. For my part, however, I don’t understand what all the fuss is about, given that this “Land of the Lost” precursor is utterly lacking in historical veracity (dinosaurs and humans co-exist, to name just the most egregious error) and possesses an insipid storyline. At least it’s partially redeemed by some impressive action sequences and special effects.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Some exciting, well-done action sequences — particularly the erupting volcano

Must See?
No. While it holds historical interest as the most profitable film of 1940, this movie is really only a “must-see” for fans of cavemen flicks.


One Response to “One Million B.C. (1940)”

  1. Completely agree; not a must. This movie is an example of what can make Peary’s book frustrating at times: it’s a film that took me a loooong time to track down and, when I finally saw it, I went “Wha-???” Although I’m sure Peary includes it for some reasons stated in the overview here (particularly its place in cinema history), it sure is a chore to get through – except for the noted redeeming qualities, which still don’t really make it worth viewing. It fails to engage even on a silly level. But if TCM shows it, and you’re one who has trouble sleeping, DO tape it for your collection so you can have it handy when insomnia hits – it should ‘work’ within minutes!

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