The Land That Time Forgot


Rating 4

Directed by Kevin Connor

Written by Michael Moorcock and James Cawthorn, from the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Starring Doug McClure, John McEnery, Susan Penhaligon, Keith Barron, Anthony Ainley and Declan Mulholland

During the First World War a British merchant ship is torpedoed by a German U-boat, under the command of Captain Von Schoenvorts (John McEnery). The few survivors, including American seaman Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure), Lisa Clayton (Susan Penhaligon) and Captain Bradley (Keith Barron), take to a lifeboat. When the submarine surfaces, they take the crew by surprise and capture it. However, the German crew are able to regain control of their vessel. An uneasy truce is agreed when they become lost in uncharted waters and end up on the legendary island of Caprona, the subject of a seafaring tale and previously believed to be nothing more than a myth. Once there, they are attacked by dinosaurs and primitive humans, discovering that the further north they travel on the island, the more advanced evolution becomes.

Based on a 1918 novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, with a script co-written by the famous British fantasy-sci-fi novelist and Hawkwind associate Michael Moorcock, this was the first of several British-made fantasy-adventure films starring Doug McClure and directed by Kevin Connor. It was a favourite film of mine as a teenager; McClure having previously played Trampas, my favourite character in the old 1960s American TV western series ‘The Virginian’.

Watching it again now after a gap of many years, the film is, in retrospect, undoubtedly somewhat simplistic and rather silly, and the special effects are very primitive (not a bad thing at all) compared to the CGI effects commonplace now, but it still retains a lot of the charm and some of the power I recalled from all those years ago. As a piece of action-adventure entertainment, I still find it much more enjoyable than a lot of hugely expensive blockbusters that have come out of Hollywood in recent years.

Doug McClure, who later achieved a kind of iconic comic status thanks to ‘The Simpsons’, was not the most expressive or versatile of actors, but he was likeable and his screen persona perfectly fitted films like this one. The rest of the cast was made up of reliable actors familiar from British films and television at the time.



whitelabcoat said...

Back in the day, my dad used to take my siblings and I to a cinema in our hometown (needless to say, the cinema is now a nightclub) that almost exclusively showed Disney movies, Carry On films, and 50s/60s/70s sci-fi/fantasy, usually in some sort of double-bill combination. The Land That Time Forgot has been a favourite of mine ever since I saw it there (probably just a year or two after its initial release) - it was my first exposure to on-screen dinosaurs, cheap (but, as you suggest, often far more effective than CGI) special effects, and - probably - actors getting eaten by things. And it still has one of my all-time favourite endings to any movie (honestly, the thought of those characters left behind in that situation haunted me for weeks after - and, indeed, still does). We dutifully went to see the follow-up Burroughs' adaptations (including the sequel), but The Land That Time Forgot was always the standard by which every other B-grade sci-fi or fantasy movie I saw was judged (that and Jason and the Argonauts).


alienlanes said...

I agree about the ending. I suspect it is a big part of the reason why I found the film so memorable.