Last weekend I watched some dinosaur movies and figured they needed a thread of their own.
The Lost World (1960) Somehow this film eluded me in my youth so this was the first time I'd seen this version. Like many films directed by Irwin Allen, there is quite the "cheese factor" at play, and unfortunately here, it ain't gouda. With the exception of Claude Rains (in full red beard, stash and hair) the entire (too) large cast over act, many of them embarrassingly so. Jill St. John delivers every line like she's trying to reach the cheap seats and Fernando Lamas (who looks "marvelous"), plays the helicopter pilot who always has his guitar with him (which only has four strings) and can't keep from breaking out into song.
However, who really cares about the acting or even the plot in a dinosaur movie, right? What about the dinosaurs? Ugh. Even as a kid I hated when the dinosaurs were just photo-enlarged lizards, and that's what Allen gives us here. To make matters worse, the poor lizards are adorned with accoutrements like horns and plates, which are glued-on and make them look ridiculous. Allen actually has two of these lizards fight each other which, knowing they are real live creatures, is not only not entertaining, but I would have thought even in 1960, it would have been outlawed. That he actually has Raines (Professor Challenger) identify one of these iguanas with glued-on plates on its back as a "brontosaurus" would have had this nine-year old yelling questionable things at the screen. (Clearly, if it resembled any known dinosaur at all, those plates would have made it a "stegosaurus".) The film ends with another of these atrocities. Challenger drops an egg and out hops a real and little iguana. He shouts, "A Tyrannosaurus Rex!"……….Professor my eye.
The good news is that the DVD includes a bonus DVD which contains the 1925 version of The Lost World. Now here's a movie. As a kid my public library had a three-reel 8mm version of this and I took it out every chance I could get. Great plot, cast (Bessie Love and Wallace Beery as Challenger ) and dinosaurs, dinosaurs, dinosaurs. My hero, Willis (King Kong) O'Brien did the animation and it's terrific. The allosaurus-triceratops fight is great (and one I reenacted a lot with my plastic dinosaurs), and best of all is the brontosaurus, especially when he wrecks havoc in the streets of London. (It's still difficult for me to believe that there's no longer such a thing as a brontosaurus. I still remember the detailed drawings in my "How and Why Book on Dinosaurs". Then again, my "How and Why Book on the Planets" had some cool pictures of Pluto, too….). The silent version of The Lost World is really a great film and the version included in this DVD is one of the most complete I've seen.
Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) Windsor McCay's delightful animated film has the real McCay making a bet with a friend that he can make a dinosaur live again. Six months and 10,000 drawings later and Gertie does live, emerging form her cave and doing some tricks and lots of eating (of stumps and things, but not people...unfortunately). A real treat.
"Let's be independent together." Dr. Hermey DDS