Raising the Eyebrow to an Art

If one were to compile a list of the major stars of the pre-Code era, the name William Powell would have to be at the forefront.  True, he excelled in many post-Code pics, and, indeed, made memorable appearances during the silent era.  But it’s his pre-C titles that we legions of early Thirties fans relish…and worship.  Thus, it is with great satisfaction to broadcast the release of the DVD-R 4-disc ensemble of WILLIAM POWELL AT WARNER BROS., available from the folks at The Warner Archive Collection/Warner Home Video.

Granted, the four titles here do not represent the star at his zenith, but they do contain two top-line pictures from his brief Warners days, plus two fascinating obscurites that, combined, make this set a worthy addition to any pre-Code/Powell buff’s library shelf.

Powell’s career was a varied and diverse one, spanning thirty years and nearly one hundred movies (and three Oscar nominations) in which the actor wore both white and black hats, yet NEVER gave a less than terrific performance.  Powell’s sleepy eyes (and ‘stash) seemed to doom him to villainous roles (parts he essayed during most of his 1920s period), but his love affair with the camera and his undeniable likeability aided by a natural flair for comedy soon gave rise to an ascension up the star ladder.  By the late 1920s, he was a key player at Paramount; the part-talkie The Canary Murder Case assured his foothold in the transition to sound.  This piqued the boys Warner, out to snare any and every attraction Vitaphone could accommodate.  Jack Warner’s simple strategy was to, frankly, offer up more money than actors and actresses with excellent speaking voices were worth.  And, during the years 1928-1932, it seemed to pay off.  Sweetheart long-term contracts were given to Al Jolson and Powell Paramount contemporary Kay Francis.  Bill Powell’s Philo Vance turn made him a logical Warner possibility, and soon he was lassoed over to Burbank.

The teaming of the two Paramount luminaries (Powell and Francis) proved a goldmine for Warners, especially with the release of their greatest pic, 1932’s One Way Passage.  Other more salacious offerings (Jewel Robbery, also 1932) reaped more box-office gold, and each star seemed to be proving that Jack Warner had made the right decision (this would eventually prove disastrous for the studio as the 1930s dragged on, particularly with both Jolson and Francis).  Powell was smoothly at ease with such risqué productions as Lawyer Man and especially The Kennel Murder Case, which returned him to his (up to then) most famous role (Vance).  But Powell was becoming increasingly unhappy with the types of vehicles Warners was serving up; more importantly, MGM was dangling an impressive carrot in front of him; and, professionally, the Culver City outfit was where he felt he should be.  The WB Powell musical Fashions of 1934 seemed to indicate he was right, and he eventually secured his release and bolted to Metro, where, during that same year he appeared in Manhattan Melodrama and The Thin Man.  Need we say more?  The popular actor overnight became a superstar.

But that doesn’t mean the quartet of titles in WILLIAM POWELL AT WARNER BROS. are to be sneezed at.  Au contraire.  In whole or in part, they’re quite entertaining and frequently wonderful (with outstanding participation from folks in front of and behind the camera).

So, let’s take a gander.

 

1931’s THE ROAD TO SINGAPORE is the creakiest of the Powell foursome, making less discriminating viewers likely wish for the presence of the more famous name’s-the-same 1940 pic, costarring Hope and Crosby.  Yet, the sex in the tropics movie does have its moments, nearly all due to its lead.  There are some pre-Code gems dropped between the overall stodginess in J. Grubb Alexander’s screen adaptation of Roland Pertwee’s play Heatwave (a way better title, which was actually based upon a novel by Denise Robins).  In a coconut shell, the plot concerns the return to the islands of well-oiled rake Hugh Dawltry (Powell), whose credo is that it “isn’t against the law to make love to other men’s wives.”  His latest target is recently transplanted Dr. March’s (creepy and dull Louis Calhern) classically beautiful spouse Philippa (Doris Kenyon), whom he first spies on the cross-over voyage (in between romancing a variety of shipboard (and bored) females.

At first the lady rebuffs him, but, after seeing her husband’s true colors (he’s a brutal racist, and, it’s implied, a lousy lover), she amorously gravitates toward the far more desirable Dawltry (“Dinner at eight is never more compromising as breakfast at seven,” they logically conclude…and collude).  A follow-up hard kiss on the veranda is pre-C moment to savor, as it’s obvious the lady is having an orgasm.

Alas, Philippa isn’t the only interested woman, not a surprise as the entire male populace seems to be a bunch of brittle, antiquated bigots with sticks rigidly in place up their arse.  The second best performance is the flick is in fact Marian Marsh as Rene, Calhern’s young, horny teenage sibling, determined to have Powell make her a woman.  She and her sister-in-law bond by sitting around in their lingerie, talking sex and smoking cigarettes while copies of The Hungry Wife get passed around more often than a box of Crackerjack.

SINGAPORE is surprisingly stiffly directed by the usually slick and fast-moving Alfred E. Green (remember Baby Face?).  The photography by Robert Kurrie is a definite plus, as are the Anton Grot sets and excellent supporting cast (Alison Skipworth, Lumsden Hare, Tyrell Davis, Ethel Griffies, Charles Lane and Snub Pollard).  But there are far better things in store for purchasers of this 4-disc set.

 

In contrast, 1932’s HIGH PRESSURE, directed by Mervyn LeRoy, is one of the best pictures Powell ever made for Warner Bros.  And it’s a textbook template for Pre-Code 101, full of sexy situations, slimy double-crosses, drinking, whoring, and more great lines than a Jaguar showroom.

Powell plays Gar Evans, the king of the PR world, out on a womanizing toot(sie) du jour.  His ex-peeps are desperate to find him, as there’s a million-dollar op in the works, if they can get the right promoter to promote.  Gar is the guy, but he’s more tight than right, so, after a sobering reunion (“finding a needle in a haystack is nothin’ like looking for a guy in a gin mill!”), Evans zooms back on the (non-Jim) beam and struts his stuff.

Based on a play by Aben Kandel, the mile-a-minute screenplay by Joseph Jackson and S.J. Peters is a never-disappointing hoot.  Powell’s in good company with the ladies, flanked by two hard-candy Say Girls, Evelyn Brent and Evalyn Knapp; with them around no butt is safe from a kicking.  And if that’s not enough, there’s Polly Walters literally bringing up the rear, superbly telling Guy Kibbee where to shove his wreath.  Furthermore, there’s the always-welcome splendid participation of Frank McHugh, George Sidney, Ben Alexander, Charles Middleton, Oscar Apfel, Harry Beresford and Henry Armetta.

The dialog is priceless, with Powell self-described as an excellent night worker, especially when it comes to dictation.  Sidney, a worried investor, is nevertheless impressed by this and Knapp’s eagerness to work into the wee hours.  “I’m very ambitious,” she purrs with enough heat to melt an iceberg.  Powell’s revolutionary ideas really are ahead of their time, coming up with the concept for the informercial.  With technical expertise from d.p. Robert Kurrie, art direction by Anton Grot, and Earl Luick’s panting-friendly pre-C ladies wear, HIGH PRESSURE is high pleasure.  Plus, there’s the trailer, featuring a scene not in the movie of Kibbee “auditioning” babes.

 

In 1933’s PRIVATE DETECTIVE 62, Powell plays an undesirable in Paris, deported for playing a part in an espionage plot, then, recruited back to France to ply his smarmy talents.  But Powell (as Donald Free), wants no part of it.  He jumps ship and ends up in Depression-era New York, where jobs are scarcer than integrity in D.C.  He hooks up with a sleazeball private eye (Arthur Hohl), and, with the help of a gangster client (Gordon Westcott), mushrooms the agency into a mega-successful concern, where the phrase “bedroom dick” is a compliment.  Oh, yeah, and all this happens within the first ten minutes of this rapid-paced 66 minute pre-Code lulu.

Hogan, the unsavory Hohl, is the lowest of the low.  He’ll stoop to no less than murder, deception and robbery to keep his detecting on an even keel (in one sequence, he hires date-rapists in order to blackmail a female client).  Powell/Free finds he’s finally had enough, although it’s not due to being sideswiped by decency, but rather the shapely charms of Margaret Lindsay, an affluent gangland victim whose Jones for plunging rivals her Orry-Kelly necklines.

Some masterful dialog by Rian James (ranging from “Who ever heard of a man going to Atlantic City with his wife?!” to warning cokehead James Bell to “lay off the da snow”) makes this adaptation of Raoul Whitfield’s story a celluloid wow.  The shimmering photography is by Tony Gaudio, the smooth-as-silk direction by the great Michael Curtiz and the overall enjoyment is had by all.

 

Curtiz and Powell team up again for the interesting but problematic THE KEY, a 1934 barely-made it pre-Code (it was released on June 9, 1934).  It’s a low-rent yet intriguing version of the Irish “troubles,” way better realized the following year by John Ford’s The Informer.  This take, as scripted by Laird Doyle (from a play by R. Gore Brown and J.L Handy), differs from Ford’s, as it’s from the British point of view, with personal relationships overpowering the politics.  Powell is Captain Bill Tennant, once again a rake by any other name, a notorious womanizer who nonetheless is an ace undercover man (in many ways) for the British.  Assigned to Dublin in 1920, he is pleasantly surprised to find himself neighbors with Captain and Mrs. Kerr, as portrayed by Colin Clive and Edna Best.  Clive delivers yet another self-loathing, tortured portrayal as a top officer, haunted by his killing a traitorous rebel, who was also his friend.  Powell doesn’t make it easier; he’s another pal from the past – whose earlier days with Clive’s wife Best were far more rousing.

Lots of subterfuge, deceit, self-sacrificing and soul-searching before this drama concludes with able support from Hobart Cavanagh, Halliwell Hobbes, Donald Crisp, J.M. Kerrigan, Henry O’Neill, Arthur Treacher and, a particularly nifty turn by Anne Shirley (still Dawn O’Day), as a young Irish flower-seller, smitten with Powell.  The excellent photography is by Ernest Haller, with music supervision by Warner’s reliable Leo F. Forbstein.

THE KEY, Powell’s last Warners release, proves a decent send-off for the busy actor, a nevertheless quickly forgotten entry that was overshadowed by the suave thesp’s new arrangement over at Metro.

That said, WILLIAM POWELL AT WARNER BROS. is a worthy acquisition for any WP (or WB) aficionado.

WILLIAM POWELL AT WARNER BROS. Black and White.  Full frame [1.37:1]; Mono audio. Made-to-order DVD-Rs from The Warner Archive Collection/Warner Home Video.  CAT# 1000428690 .  SRP: $39.99.

Available from the Warner Archive Collection:  http://www.wbshop.com/warnerarchive or online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays® are sold.

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Pulp Friction

Film noir fans need to momentarily stop running down those nocturnal rain-swept streets, catch their breath and rejoice for the Blu-Ray release of Don Siegel’s vastly underrated 1954 crime thriller PRIVATE HELL 36, now available through Olive Films/Paramount Home Video.

An Allied Artists special, HELL contains what is likely the perfect noir cast.  In the four leads are Ida Lupino, Steve Cochran, Howard Duff and Dorothy Malone, with Dean Jagger, Dabbs Greer, James Anderson, Richard Deacon and King Donovan admirably shouldering their always-appreciated support.

The plot (by costar/producer Lupino and her then-husband Collier Young, for their Filmmaker’s Presentation company) is a peach.  I’ve-got-your-back no-nonsense official City of L.A. gumshoes Cal Bruner and Jack Farnham (Cochran and Duff) genuinely enjoy their work, and its middle-class rewards (along with Scott Brady and Charles MacGraw, they are the perfect plainclothes candidates for a fantasy version of James McElroy’s Black Dahlia).  This includes the violent part (a right-off-the-bat lethal skirmish in a convenience store is jaw-dropping and serves as splendid precursor to director Siegel’s “Do ya feel lucky, punk?!” sequence in Dirty Harry).  The schism between them is that Farnham can shrug it off after-hours, enjoying suburban living with his curvy, loving spouse Francey (Malone).  Bruner, on the other hand, when not barbecuing with the Farnhams, contemplates a larger-than-life existence – one he feels he truly deserves, being better than most everybody (he’d never admit it, but he’s kinda a perfect Nazi).  Not surprisingly unmarried, Cal haunts watering holes, eventually hooking up with barfly/singer/whore Lilli Marlowe (Lupino), who, despite her circumstances, is a pretty decent person, striving for something better.

PRIVATE HELL 36 (the “36” being a secret locker) would never progress further than the interesting level, if it weren’t for the dark, talon-fingered hand of fate.  A wild car chase with a mob figure on the run results in his demise.  Calling in the fatality along a deserted, rural road, Bruner and Farnham discover a suitcase with $300,000.00 in stolen mob money.  Jack is all for turning it in; Cal has other plans, and suggests an alternative.  NOTE to all noiristas:  NEVER take advice from Steve Cochran.  Farnham is reluctantly convinced, and from here on their troubles escalate, notably when Bruner’s increasingly overt psychopathic tendencies, veering frighteningly toward paranoia, go full Fred C. Dobbs on Farnham’s ass.  Plus, we have the police (led by narrator Jagger), already suspicious, and anxious to vanquish the force of dirty cops.  PLUS, that pesky mob isn’t about to write off their losses either.  Jack and Francey thus become the archetypical genre poster couple for the hopelessness walls-closing-in scenario that, as we all know, cannot completely EVER end well.  And it doesn’t.

PRIVATE HELL 36 is one of my all-time favorite noirs, and, in my opinion, one of Don Siegel’s greatest pics.  Siegel, as recounted in his superb 1993 autobiography, A Siegel Film, considered it a mess. The reason being that producer-writer Lupino tried to also become director Lupino; it additionally didn’t help that, aside from Dean Jagger and himself, the four leads were mostly drunk throughout the shoot. Ultimately Siegel, who called it a “family film” (Lupino and Collier Young had been husband and wife) concluded “I liked Ida personally, and admired her talent.  We just couldn’t communicate.” Siegel’s “family” comment had on an ulterior, cynical meaning, as three years previously Lupino divorced husband Young (who still remained her business partner), marrying Duff.

Off-camera keg-party hijinks aside, I still love this movie.  The snarky, gritty script is peppered with quotable lines, many reflecting the then-current mainstream culture (“I’ve seen all this on Dragnet,” spouts one cynical denizen about the daft, ferocious chain of events).  Cochran takes the honors for the best lines, specifically when offering his personal exoneration to his far-more reputable-partner for their murderous deeds (“Stop taking it so hard.  He wasn’t your brother.”).  And watching all these scene stealers interact with one another is pure mean street joy.

All of the above is compounded by the downright brilliant black-and-white widescreen cinematography of Burnett Guffey.  Ditto the ominous score by Leith Stevens.

The Olive Films Blu-Ray does this unfairly ignored freak show justice, with a spiffy-looking platter, that, apart from slight grain, is a monochrome winner.

Tough, rough and oozing with guilt, PRIVATE HELL 36 rates a key spot on your crazy-ass cop noir sidebar shelf, alongside On Dangerous Ground, The Prowler, Kansas City Confidential and the rest.  Don’t miss it.

PRIVATE HELL 36.  Black and white.  Widescreen [1.78:1; 1080p High Definition]; 1.0 DTS-HD MA.  Olive Films/Paramount Home Entertainment.  CAT# OF456.  SRP:  $29.95.

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Mighty Hammersaurus vs. a Twentieth Century Fox

Aggressively coming behind the recent Blu-Ray release of the 1940 original One Million B.C. is the far-more celebrated 1966 remake, a piece de resistance of Sixties sex, violence and state-of-the-art special effects.  One need not read any further to discover that this is the ultimate edition of the psychotronic Hammer Films classic, a triumph for the great Ray Harryhausen and a fantasy flesh fest for everyone else.  It all comes to your home-vid media room via a magnificent two-disc Blu-Ray, courtesy of Kino-Lorber Studio Classics and 20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment.

The birth of this Jurassic joyride began as a seed in the generally goth head of Hammer producer/writer/director Michael Carreras (a key suit, although I’ll avoid using the term Hammer head), who saw the project as an ideal vehicle primed for a high-tech redux.  It was a way to bring the great Harryhausen into the Hammer fold, plus reveal much bodacious dollygirl skin, draped in scanty animal skins.  Sort of dinos meet beach party antics that tipped more toward a Bond world than a Frankie and Annette sojourn.

Indeed, Carreras was faithful to the source work, creating a straight adaptation of the original Mickell Novack Roach script, but, as Joel McCrea’s employers demanded in Sullivan’s Travels, “…with a little sex.”

Actually, more than a little.

Working with 7-Arts, in conjunction with 20th Century-Fox in the States, Hammer had gleaned a major human acquisition – the studio’s newest successor to Faye/Tierney/Darnell/Monroe/Mansfield: Raquel Welch (although the starlet/actress had yet to show much of herself, save swimming through a diseased bloodstream in the sci-fi hit Fantastic Voyage).  More on her later.

Another major coup besides Welch and the aforementioned Harryhausen was the master SFX artist’s previous director Don Chaffey, who guided the mythic narrative of 1963’s Jason and the Argonauts, arguably the finest work either of these two men had ever been involved with.  Ditto was the acquiring the services of Jason’s outstanding d.p. Wilkie Cooper, (who likewise shot Harryhausen’s 1964 Victorian space travel epic First Men in the Moon).

The picture was to be shot in the Canary Islands, a perfect weird environ that blossomed with strange, haunting (yet vacation-friendly looking) beauty.

The remaining cast of humans, aka the Rock and Shell folk, included some high-octane Brits, comprising Robert Brown (as Akhoba, the Lon Chaney role in the 1940 tale), and the wonderful Percy Herbert as Sakana, evil, lustful son of Brown.  For Tumak, the Victor Mature character, Hammer did for its female audience what it had so masterfully achieved for its male contingent.  Part-time actor/photographer John Richardson was cast as the exiled Rock man who learns about love, brotherhood and hygiene (not necessarily in that order) from the ga-ga gorgeous Loana (or woo-woo Welch).  Richardson succeeded in bringing many girls into the theaters with this pic, and gave the formidable beauteous ladies on the shoot quite a series of pre-menopausal hot flashes. The prime (or primal) recipient of this hormonal upheaval was Bond girl/movie bad babe Martine Beswick, who, as Nupondi, a ravishing Rock (or Rockette), desires Tumak but is “taken” by Sakana.

The “dialog” (so to speak) is identical to that of the Hal Roach version.  Pressbooks even hyped a caveman/modern man Neanderthal/English dictionary.  Movies used to be so much fun!

Harryhausen’s work, of course, is fabulous – among his best – but, initially, 1966 viewers/fans were aghast (me included).  The first monsters we see are of the old blown-up lizard variety (that much of a faithful remake we didn’t need).  I recall shouting out at the Heights Theater, “No, Ray, what have you done?!”  I figured this was Fox interference, as this is what passed for dinosaurs in two of their previous outings, 1959’s Journey to the Center of the Earth (which I loved) and 1960’s The Lost World (which I didn’t).  Mercifully, the big lizards are onscreen for a short time only, and the next time prehistoric beasts appear they are Harryhausen stop-motion gems.  Apparently, the lizard idea was Ray’s himself, a backfire that he thought would more realistically segue into his work; Harryhausen reasoned that audiences would react to the wonder more if the debut monsters were actual living creatures (in regard to the living, breathing dragons, the same problems prevailed as in the 1940 pic, being that the lizards didn’t move in the heat and had to be cooled down to perform – at least this time they were cared for by reptile wranglers, with no resulting fatalities).

Raquel Welch, was, naturally, the big promotional linchpin of ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. as the remake was now called (both for the obvious physical reasons and the fact that she was a Fox star).  It all paid off handsomely.  ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. became one of the top-grossing pictures of 1966, and Hammer’s biggest box-office champ to (that) date.

Release strategy divided the movie into two separate directions.  In the States, B.C. was geared toward the mass kiddie crowd, while an elongated, graphic cut was unveiled for a more adult audience in the UK (a similar ploy was used in their inferior follow-up When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, featuring a ridiculous American version as opposed to a full-nudity international edition).

The differences between the two versions of ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. (in running time, about nine minutes, or a split reel), is rather extensive.  Okay, big surprise, we’re talking sex and violence.  For the latter, this is illustrated via a sequence (rather two sequences) where Tumak (and later, Tumak and Loana) come across a cave of hybrid humans, half homo-sapien, half cannibalistic beasts, who literally rip the head off of one of their own, devouring the juicy parts, and using a head as an ornament.  The sex part is a segment wherein a now pent-up, horny Nupondi (Tumak has been banished) is about to become the property of salivating Sakana.  To prepare for this rather unpleasant event, the woman is used in a ceremonial dance where she has obviously been given some potent hallucinogens (what the B-westerns used to refer to as “loco weed”).  In a scene that surpasses anything Welch contributes to the scenario, Beswick, oiled-up and breathing heavily, gyrates like an Amsterdam hooker on an oyster binge.  It’s likely that this supreme moment gave Carreras the impetus to star the actress in her own entry, Prehistoric Women, released later that year.

It should be happily noted that BOTH versions are included in the Kino set (a big relief, as the pick-and-choose options of yore meant buying the edited U.S. Fox anamorphic DVD or a non-anamorphic UK Warner-Pathe platter).

As indicated earlier, Harryhausen’s efforts in ONE MILLION YEARS, B.C. are iconic.  There are fights with an Allosaurus (the apple-tree shaking part in the Mature opus), a battle between a Tyrannosaurus and a Triceratops (the alligator/lizard scene in the original), a beach frolic invasion by an aircraft carrier-sized turtle, and, most famously, the cleavage-heaving Welch being spirited away by a Pterodactyl as food for her young ‘uns.

All-in-all this is an amazing Blu-Ray set that Hammer fans, Harryhausen/SFX buffs, 1960s cinema aficionados and Welch-Watchers cannot afford to be without.  The images and colors in 1080p High Definition are incredible, and the soundtrack, featuring the music of Mario Nascimbene (who uses riffs reminiscent from his previous acclaimed scores for The Vikings and Barabbas) is glorious.

But the beat goes on.  There are a number of enticing, vastly entertaining extras, including two archival (2002) interviews with Welch and Harryhausen.

The Welch piece is, sadly, just what one would expect.  For nearly fifty years, she has bitched about this movie (“…took me years to live it down!”), much like Burt Reynolds’ condemnation of his great spaghetti western Navajo Joe.  She continues to do that now, but in a kinder, warmer and fuzzier back-handed way.  Still, she goes on about how she never wanted to do it, fought with Fox (after only one picture), and was terrified that she’d be typed as a sci-fi queen, due to B.C. and Fantastic Voyage.  Ironically, it’s these two movies (along with a guest appearance in Bedazzled and her genuine comic flair in the Richard Lester Musketeer flicks) that remain the best works in the actress’s career (nevertheless, her grunting and giggling, considered inadequate, was dubbed in post). Welch claimed she only agreed to the UK’s Hammer B.C. deal because she wanted to be part of the Swinging London scene that was then going on.  More probable is the fact that Fox threatened to suspend her if she didn’t go.  Welch also states that she came close to death on the shoot, running around in those skimpy skins during an unprecedented blizzard in the Canary Islands.  That, too, is unlikely.  Welch does concede that the movie “made” her, especially when the famous cavegirl poster was distributed before the official release date.  She also begrudgingly acknowledges the brilliant artistry of Harryhausen, to say nothing of the pecs of Richardson that kept her in sweaty mode (apparently even in those Way Down East non-existent snowdrifts).  Finally, she talks about her getting on so well with Beswick, whom she admits was quite a knockout.

The Harryhausen interview is far more reliable, as he describes shooting in the Canary Islands with the cast and crew.  Most relevantly, he humorously comments on chasing and pointing giant sticks at the actors, instructing them to run, cower, scream, fall, etc.  He also addresses the critics who called the picture a farce of history.  No one, says Ray, ever stated that we were making a documentary.  He also mentions that budgetary problems put the kibosh on a final dino attack at a cave (mirroring the climax of the 1940 Roach flick), and that they wrote in the volcanic eruption instead.  This seems to be at least half correct, as both those sequences appeared in the original, and that the eruption HAD to be the final capper to the remake.  He also displays the remnants of the dinosaurs used in the production.

The third and best of the filmed interviews is a recent discussion with Beswick, who, it turns out, is not the mean girl she often portrayed, but a savvy, funny and totally neat-o person whom anyone would be thrilled to hang out with.  She likewise recounts the shoot (not a word of snow, but does mention some torrential rainy days), the genius of Harryhausen (so enamored of his work was she that the actress asked if she could watch him do the stop-motion in his studio, which he agreed to).  She also discusses her almost being sued by Hammer for wanting to drop out of the production early-on.  Unlike Welch, it wasn’t for “artistic” reasons, but rather personal ones.  Once she saw Richardson, she knew her career would take a backseat to lust.  Threatened with legal action, she sighed and agreed, becoming fast friends with Carreras and “doomed” at a press junket prior to filming.  Richardson and Beswick were on opposite sides of the room, but, as soon as their eyes met, the bond of sexuality became so strong you could, as they say, cut if with a knife.  “Oh, no!,” she groaned.  She knew she’d give in, and did.  Carreras told her he’d never seen such physical attraction in all his life.  The thesps married in 1967 (divorcing in 1973).  As to she and Welch being best buds, Beswick is diplomatic, and leaves it at “we got on.”

I always believed whatever Hammer Films outlined in their one-sheets. So when the poster of Welch, in her fur bikini, amidst an array of dinosaurs and a belching volcano, contained the byline herald “THIS IS THE WAY IT WAS!,” I thoroughly wanted to think it so.  And, admittedly, for me, in 1966, it was.

ONE MILLION YEARS, B.C. Color. Widescreen [1.85:1; 1080p High Definition]; 2.0 DTS-HD MA.  Kino Lorber Studio Classics/20th Century-Fox Home Entertainment.  CAT # K20726. SRP: $29.95.

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