Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

One Million B.C. (1940)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

One Million B.C. (1940)

In director Hal Roach's (of Hal Roach Studios) sci-fi adventure fantasy, with only grunting and mono-syllabic dialogue, and some scenes considered controversial by anti-animal abuse advocates:

  • the framing narrative, told by a paleontologist/Narrator (Conrad Nagel) in a cave, who described or interpreted a story (a saga of tribal, prehistoric people) to mountain climbers and their guide (Robert Kent), from his readings of primitive cave/rock paintings hidden for many centuries, while they waited for a storm to pass: ("These strange figures and forms were carved here many years ago - before any record of our present civilization. They speak the message of an intelligent man...Intelligence, my friend, is inherent. Education and culture are acquired. Civilization, of course, has brought complications. But here are the same thoughts, the same emotions, the same struggles with the problems of life and death that we have today experienced")
  • the story began with the narrator's words: "The story concerns a young hunter of one tribe and the young girl of another" - he pointed to two of the climbers (played also by Carole Landis and Victor Mature, actors in the story) - he then continued: "The saga concerns two tribes. To avoid confusion, suppose we say the boy belonged to the Rock People, and the girl the Shell People. Our story opens with the Rock Tribe and a young hunter we'll call Tumak. His was a cruel tribe. Pity and compassion played little part in the existence of those people, who ate only what they could kill; they depended solely on their ability to kill for sustenance. They despised weakness, worshipped strength. They ruled by the power of might...Animals were abundant; none of them had learned to fear man, which made the hunter's life most hazardous....Here life lived hand in hand with death. And compensation came only to the strong. They hunted as primitively as they lived, knowing no weapons except a crude staff and responding only to brute strength"
Paleontologist/Narrator (Conrad Nagel)
"Young girl"/Climber (Carole Landis)
Young hunter"/Climber (Victor Mature)
  • in the opening boar-hunting scene, hunkish Tumak (Victor Mature), a member of the savage, meat-eating and primitive Rock People tribe living among rock cliffs (the son of the brutish tribal chieftain Akhoba (Lon Chaney, Jr.) who was "the mightiest hunter of them all") had killed a wild boar during his first kill; however, his father contended with him over meat rights and ownership; for defying his father when Tumak wished to claim the boar as his own, he struck his father with his staff, they fought for seniority, and Tumak was pushed over a cliff ledge outside the cave entrance
  • banished and outcast from his tribe, Tumak was then chased by a large mastodon (disguised elephant) up a tree trunk, butted off the tree into a body of water below, and he floated unconscious to the encampment of the pacifist, vegetarian, spear-fishing, well-mannered Shell People tribe living in a lush valley, where he was rescued by pretty blonde Loana (Carole Landis); they taught each other their names through sign language and grunting; Tumak was skeptical and fearful of the new tribe, and piggishly ate the food or stashed food offered to him; Loana attempted to teach Tumak to not gobble his food, to not steal other's food, and to share
Teaching Tumak Table Manners and Sharing
  • the scene of Tumak's saving of a young child in a tree from a rampaging dinosaur (an Allosaurus), by spearing it to death
  • the development of a love triangle between Loana, Tumak, and another male Shell Tribe member - a rivalry that eventually forced Tumak to be ejected or banished (with Loana) from the tribe when he stole the man's spear and the two fought over it
  • the special effects and trick enlargement photography (and the use of dressed-up lizards and magnification) to depict dinosaurs and other wild creatures, including a gigantic bear-like mongoose battling a snake wrapped in a tree, an armadillo chasing them up a tree, and the climactic scene of a giant Tegudon lizard (a large Gila Monster) losing a bloody fight against a Gatorsaurus (an alligator with a fin affixed to its back)
  • the scene of Tumak fighting off one of the Rock People who threatened Loana with harm
Tumak Defending Loana From Harm by Rock Tribe member
Loana Teaching Peace-Keeping
Loana Cutting BBQ'd Meat into Slabs to Serve on Plates
  • the scene of Loana setting an example by teaching peace-keeping behavior to the primitive Rock People (and the women), and proper table-eating manners: women went first, and meat had to be carved into slices, not grabbed in pieces and torn off the carcass
  • the climactic volcanic eruption that occurred as a group of the tribes-people (including Loana) were cornered and trapped in a cave; the fast-moving lava flow covered some of the people and other giant lizards, and many were swallowed up by fissures; the two tribes under Tumak's leadership were reunited as they worked together to combat a giant, menacing iguana guarding the cave's exit; when spearing the creature didn't work, they caused a rock avalanche that buried it under immense boulders to free them
  • the storybook ending with Loana, Tumak, and a young child (not their own) walking off into the sunset
Volcanic Eruption
Giant Iguana Menacing Tribespeople in Cave
Storybook Ending

Akhoba (Lon Chaney, Jr.) with Son Tumak During Boar-Hunting Expedition

Fight Between Father and Son Before Tumak's Banishment

Tumak Discovered and Rescued by Loana of the Shell People

Tumak's Shaking of Tree to Provide Fruit for Shell People

Tumak Saving a Child in Tree From Allosaurus (Dinosaur)

Love Triangle Rivalry

Tumak Ejected From Shell People (with Loana)

Bear-Mongoose vs. Snake

Giant Armadillo

Battle of Gatorsaurus and Giant Gila Monster


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