Screens of the Stone Age: 1,000,000 B.C.

Twenty-six years before One Million Years B.C., when Raquel Welch was still in fur diapers, came 1940’s 1,000,000 BC. This slice of cinematic prehistory follows much the same story as its remake, with a clean shave cave man (Victor Mature) from the Rock tribe losing his way and encountering a remarkably conservatively clad woman (Carole Landis) of the Shell tribe, to learn the value of sharing, like a primeval Sesame Street.


Where Alpha used photo-realistic CGI and One Million Years B.C. (1966) used state-of-the-art stop motion, 1,000,000 B.C. employs the long lost art of dressing animals up in costumes. The word ‘dinosaur’ means terrible lizard, and there are some pretty terrible lizards in this so it’s quite accurate when you think about it.


Lost art

It’s always interesting to see how effects were achieved in the past, and while some bits may as well have been scrawled on a cave wall (including a T-rex less convincing than those T-rex costumes) there are also brilliantly executed sequences of humans interacting with the giant monsters and running from a volcano. Unfortunately it appears at least one animal was executed too in a lizard vs alligator fight sequence which makes for uncomfortable viewing (although did lead to a ban on this kind of cruelty in films).

While the films follow similar paths, this version uses the ludicrous plot device of having a present-day archeologist read the story from cave paintings he’s discovered, presumably embellishing (or wildly speculating) his way to a detailed story. But crackpot historian aside it’s largely dialogue free, effectively a silent film with sound effects (and a rather lackluster score), telling the story in a highly visual way. However it’s worth watching in the original black and white if you can find it – the YouTube version is horribly colourised to give the Shell tribe purple tunics. I don’t Adam and Eve it.

Yabba dabba do.