Friday, January 20, 2017
The Last Dinosaur
Basically a mixture of Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Toho monster movies, and the Jock Mahoney adventure THE LAND UNKNOWN for Universal-International, THE LAST DINOSAUR sends wealthy white hunter Thrust (Richard Boone), journalist Frankie Banks (Joan Van Ark), scientist Kawamoto (Tetsu Nakamura), geologist Chuck Wade (Steven Keats), and tracker Bunta (Lester Rackley) above the Arctic Circle, where they enter a tropical valley populated with dinosaurs beneath a volcano. The party becomes stranded there, and Thrust becomes obsessed with killing a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Boone, a great actor who became a television star on HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL, is fascinating to watch for both the right and wrong reasons. He plays the heck out of the complex character Overgard created on the page, giving the misogynist, rundown, yet somehow heroic Thrust plenty of dimension. He’s also clearly plastered in some scenes — Boone was a notorious alcoholic — is cursed with an outrageous toupee, and fiddles with his false teeth once or twice. His romantic chemistry with the 27-years-younger Van Ark (KNOTS LANDING) is surprisingly effective.
The special effects work by the Japanese crew is, as usual, not terribly believable, but almost always fun and imaginative. The American producers were Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass, well known for animated television specials like RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER and FROSTY THE SNOWMAN. They brought back Boone, Overgard, and co-director Tsugunobu Kotani for THE BUSHIDO BLADE, which turned out to be Boone’s last film (he died before its 1981 release).