One Million B.C.
Hal Roach Jr. and Hal Roach
Victor Mature, Carole Landis, Lon Chaney Jr.
Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan was a hit, but he wasn’t the only buff jungle swinger in Hollywood. Hal Roach Studios took a late swing on the vine in this dialog free action adventure flick. Showcasing pre-war morès, action, and decent special effects, it’s a surprisingly effective nearly silent film. We enter this rocks and lizard world as alpine mountaineers in lederhosen and hunting caps seek shelter from a storm. They meet professor Conrad Nagel; he dumps exposition as he decodes the ancient cave paintings to the damp mountaineers. Soon we are in a wordless world where images covey all the emotions.
Tumak (Mature) lives among the Rock People tribe; he hooks up with Loana (Landis) of the Shell people when he gets conked on the head and washed away by a river. They make a great 1940’s film couple; she’s gorgeous and under-dressed, he’s boorish and treats her like crap and she loves it. The tribes live in that pseudo-biblical Jesus riding T-Rex world of man and saurian coexisting in a world of Star Trek rocks. Gila monsters attack, armadillos with extra spikes fight back, lizards with prosthetics get lost in the dry ice fog. The film aims for atmosphere and mostly gets it right. Then the volcano blows up. It’s a great volcano; it went on to a better film career than the actors here. Dripping with early mid-century effects, awkward costumes, and leggy women with oddly permed hair styles this old film remains great fun.