One Million B.C.
Even taking into consideration Of Mice and Men, One Million BC was inarguably the most ambitious feature-film project ever undertaken by producer Hal Roach. Told in flashback, this is the highly fanciful tale of the prehistoric feud between the Rock Tribe and Shell People. Tumak (Victor Mature), son of Rock leader Akhoba (Lon Chaney Jr.), defies tradition by falling in love with Shell person Loana (Carole Landis). At first intending to "have his way" with Loana, the rough-hewn Tumak is taught such niceties as moderation and table manners by the girl and her gentle brethren. Any possibility for a permanant détente between the Rocks and the Shells is swept away by a spectacular volcano, which wipes out everyone except the people we really care about. Exercising the usual Hollywood prerogative of suggesting that cavemen and dinosaurs coexisted, One Million BC offers a vast array of awesome dinos, which at closer glance are actually normal-sized lizards going about their business on miniaturized sets; even so, the special effects were considered pretty impressive back in 1940, and still pass muster today despite Ray Harryhausen's slick "dynamation" remake in 1967. In fact, stock footage from One Million BC would be redeployed countless times in the future to enhance the production values of otherwise inexpensive horror films. Though it has since been disproven, rumors still persist that the great D. W. Griffith participated in the direction of One Million BC (it is true, however, that he aided Hal Roach in the casting process, selecting Carole Landis as the heroine because she was the only auditionee who could run properly!)