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The first time I saw ONE MILLION B.C. (1940) was in the late 1950s on KSBW-TV in Salinas, California.  Thought it was pretty cool, even though the station always was kind of fuzzy.  (The VCI DVD and Blu-ray are exceptionally sharp)  There was never any doubt the “dinosaurs” were anything other than lizards, but that made no difference to me, nor to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences who bestowed an Oscar for its special effects.  Clips of the “dinosaurs” were later used in over a dozen low-rent feature films, including two of mine, “Untamed Women” (1951) and “King Dinosaur” (1955).

The one shot that did stun me was watching the mother of a child being entombed by flowing lava.  60 years later it still kind of gives me the creeps.  I enjoyed the movie enough to buy both Castle Films one-reel silent abridgements, “1 Million B.C.” and “Battle of the Giants.”

Author, Richard Bann, who personally knew Hal Roach for many years, was nice enough to contribute some facts.  Thanks, Dick!

“Who wrote ONE MILLION B.C.? Hal E. Roach did. At one point he was going to (but elected not to) take credit for the original story as “Eugene Roche,” a pseudonym he sometimes (but rarely) used, Eugene being his middle name. Having known him so well, I can state that this direct, blunt, raw movie absolutely reflects his world view, his values, his way of thinking. Yet others received credit for the “original screenplay.” One, Mickell Novak, was his secretary, who I met once. She confirmed that Hal wrote the picture, and others who “helped” in some fashion were given screen credit to pad the production staff. When Hal first entered movies, he was a friend of and hired her mother, Jane Novak, who made Westerns with William S. Hart. And Mickell Novak’s aunt was another silent film actress of note, Eva Novak. And much has been written about the contributions of D.W. Griffith to ONE MILLION B.C. in various capacities. With respect to the story, Griffith wrote several treatments and offered a 76-page screenplay. All were rejected. By 1940, movies made in the teens seemed as antiquated as the setting for ONE MILLION B.C., and unfortunately Griffith had not changed with the times.”

Order ONE MILLION B.C. on DVD or Blu-ray from The Sprocket Vault –

DVD – http://thesprocketvault.com/product/one-million-b-c/

Blu-ray – http://thesprocketvault.com/product/one-million-b-c-blu-ray/

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