The Valley of Gwangi (1969)

Article 3455 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 12-21-2010
Posting Date: 1-29-2011
Directed by Jim O’Connolly
Featuring James Franciscus, Gila Golan, Richard Carlson
Country: USA
What it is: Dinosaur/cowboy movie

A wild west show discovers a hidden valley with prehistoric creatures which could prove to have great attractions for their show… if they live to capture one.

The concept for Gwangi originated with Willis O’Brien, but it never got made in his lifetime, though MIGHTY JOE YOUNG used some of the ideas and the concept did get some use in THE BEAST OF HOLLOW MOUNTAIN. Seeing this Ray Harryhausen movie certainly makes you understand why the idea of pitting cowboys against dinosaurs was so attractive; it’s seems a bit far-fetched until you see it in action, but then it works just fine. The plot is nothing special; it’s merely a reworking of THE LOST WORLD, though in some ways it should be pointed that this could also be said about KING KONG. But then, the plot is pretty secondary here; it’s the action setpieces that make the movie. It’s worst problem is that it takes too long to get to the action; the opening half of the movie spends too much time of relationships and characterizations that are neither novel in and of themselves or of any importance when the action gets underway. Once it gets going, it’s engrossing, with the ending sequence particularly striking. It’s not a great movie overall, but it is more than satisfying for dinosaur fans.

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