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Cinema: The Yawn of Mankind

2 minute read

One Million Years B.C. is a gaudier and bawdier copy of a prehistoric (1940) Hollywood epic about life at the yawn of prehistoric mankind. This time it is in color by DeLuxe, but once again, the sound track consists of groan-up dialogue that could have been prerecorded at a pet shop. Just as in the original, the special-effects man creates a table-top monster rally that comes to a clumsy climax in a duel between a triceratops and an allosaurus—the least exciting rematch since the second Clay-Liston fight.

The picture follows a plot line more primitive than its subject. In a cavern, in a canyon dwells the Rock tribe, whose idea of a big time is letting a vulture carry on with grandpaw’s carrion. Lowbrow-beaten by his father, and pushed off a cliff by a dribbling sibling, young Tumak (John Richardson) rebels and goes into the caveman business for himself. Eventually, he stumbles across the Shell people, a group in a more advanced state of civilization, as evidenced by their stone-headed spears and the pneumatic uplift of Raquel Welch’s deerskin halter.

Both tribes resent the ensuing romance between Rock boy and Shell girl and promptly start exorcising each other’s civil rites. As in many outdoorsy pictures, the final referee is nature, played this time by an erupting volcano that pours lava all over the screen. Next morning the chastened survivors rise to found a civilization that will culminate in miniskirts and movies that mock themselves.

To its credit, 20th Century-Fox has chosen not to take the film seriously. Instead, the ads luridly announce “Raquel Welch wearing mankind’s first bikini.” That is not a thing to be sneezed at (or in), but worth considerably less than a second Million.

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