Thursday, April 23, 2009

One Million B.C. (1940)

"One Million B.C." is the story about how prehistoric men lived.  It is basically a Romeo and Juliet story that takes place with cavemen.  One caveman belongs to a group of barbarians.  When his leader tries to kill him, he leaves and joins a group of more civilized, calm cavemen.  There he falls in love with a cave woman and he learns how to be civilized.  He then returns to his barbarian group with the woman and teach their civilized ways.  Both groups, barbarians and civilized ones, come together when dinosaurs and volcanoes attack.  When the threat is gone, they learn to all live together peacefully.

Watching this movie is sort of like watching a silent movie.  The cave people rarely speak and when they do, it is in a prehistoric language that no one can understand.  I thought it was an interesting way to shoot the picture, but I'm not quite sure if it worked.  

The acting in the movie is ok, except for one performance by Lon Chaney, Jr.  Chaney is amazing in the role of the barbarian leader.  Because he has no dialogue, he has to express emotions of strength, fear, and weakness through his actions.  He does a great job with these emotions.  He was reminiscent of his famous father.  This is one of Chaney, Jr.'s best performances.

The special effects in this film were good.  When the volcano erupts, it is very exciting.  It looks very realistic, especially when a cave woman is swallowed by a river of lava.  

The biggest problem with this movie was the dinosaurs.  The filmmakers used real lizards with phony rubber horns in their heads.  They even had a small crocodile, which they glued a plastic fin onto.  It just didn't look very good.  The worst was the T-Rex however.  It was a man in a terrible costume.  They knew it looked bad, so every shot has the T-Rex behind a tree.  This doesn't work when the main caveman fights the T-Rex with his spear.  Throughout the entire fight, there is a tree in between them.  The caveman just pokes his spear through the tree.  It was a horrible sequence.

Overall, the movie is not great.  It is slow, long, and predictable.  The only thing that makes the film worth while is the climactic ending and the great performance from Lon Chaney, Jr.


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