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The Valley of Gwangi (1969).

September 9, 2008

The Scoop:
One of the most endearing traits (among many) a B-movie can have is a brash spirit of experimentation. With lower expectations, filmmakers can try new things, throw mismatched genres together, take chances — it can be fascinating to watch, whether it works or not. “The Valley of Gwangi” has just this sort of playful spirit. While it doesn’t quite work, it is fun to watch anyway.

Want a western? Want a dinosaur flick? Want a turgid love story? Well, they’re all here.

In this twist on the “King Kong” story James Franciscus stars as an American rodeo showman who discovers a hidden prehistoric valley in Mexico and wants to round up the dinosaurs for his traveling show. Gina Golan (Miss Israel 1961) and Richard Carlson are along for the ride, as are the always charming special effects of Rey Harryhausen, who brings Gwangi (a cranky T. Rex) and all his ancient playmates to life. It’s one of those head-scratching, “What the hell were they thinking?” concepts that you just have to love, no matter much the execution might come up short.

Best Bit:
Dino fights!

Side Note:
The film was originally conceived as a follow-up to “King Kong,” and there was even some footage shot before the project was scrapped. Some of that footage was recycled for “Mighty Joe Young” (1949).

Companion Viewing:
“The Land Unknown” (1957) and “King Kong” (1933).

Bad Movie Planet.
The Seventh Voyage.
Stomp Tokyo.

Take a Look:
The trailer:

The complete film is available in installments on YouTube, beginning here:

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