Michael Delahoyde, PhD

Professor of English

Valley of the Dragons


Notes: Basedon Jules Verne’s Career of a Comet.
Michael Denning: Sean McClory
Hector: Cesare Danova
Deena: Joan Staley
Also starring Danielle de Metz, Gregg Martell,
and the ubiquitous footage from One MillionBC (1940).

Produced: Byron Roberts
Directed: Edward Bernds
Story: Donald Zimbalist
Screenplay: Edward Bernds
Executive Producer: Alfred Zimbalist

Summary: “Jules Verne was an imaginative genius, 100 years ahead ofhis time.” So much of his science fiction has become fact,who’s to say this story won’t, huh? Well?

Algeria 1881 sees “swarms of humanity.” Outside the city Irishman Michael Denning and Frenchman CaptainHector (Servidinc?) duel over a woman. On the count of ten, comet-relatedcataclysms sweep off their seconds while they clutch the ground. When all is calm, they suspend the duel and see that the cityhas been replaced by lush vegetation and a pterodon. They can’tfind the North Star or the moon and decide the earth has changedcourse; perhaps they are the last survivors. Neanderthals attackthem with stone axes, but Hector saves Michael’s life and theyspend their only two bullets. Now the duel is off in favor ofberries and game: “We’ll try to bag some.”

They witness the mongoose/snake battle fromOne Million B.C. (1940) and lose their appetites. Giantlizard footage prompts, “What kind of nightmare world isthis?” “A world of the past–a hundred thousand yearspast.” More cruel footage of lizards fighting follows.

In a cave, a giant spider flops onto Hectorand this time Michael, after extracting himself from the web,saves Hector’s life by spearing the spider. That night, the moonseems gigantic. No, “God help us, it’s the earth!” Yep, one “can see the British Isles, Spain, the coast ofAfrica.” New theory: a comet collided with earth and rippeda chunk into space. It must have done the same “1,000 centuriesago” so that “evolution might conceivably have stoodstill.” They eat prehistoric partridge. They are carefulto put out their campfire, even though a volcano is billowing.

Stock footage of mastodons is uncooperativewith their hopes of getting one alone on which they “couldeat for a long time.” The see cave women who flee and realizethat since they had a guard and they “cook food!” then”Maybe evolution didn’t stand still.” Footage of ablack bear cub distracts us from their thievery of food and clothing. The women come back to the cave with the men of the tribe. Michaeland Hector change into cave clothing, which initially seems irrationallysince it’s cumbersome and awkward, but is necessary in order tomake more stock footage work correctly, for after sighting anotherwar party of shell-people, more One Million B.C. footagehas Hector chased by a mastodon, shaken off a tree into the water,and floating unconscious until washed ashore and discovered bya blond cave-woman. She takes him to her shell-people camp andfends of hostile males and curious females. Hector shaves, thewoman Deena feeds him, and they exchange nouns (food, stone, bird,water, and “cheri”); they kiss.

Meanwhile, Michael saves an old man from therock tribe during a hunting mishap (more stock footage). He isbrought into the tribe, a brunette feeds him, and Anoka is jealous. They fight, but it is halted. Michael makes a sling and whacksAnoka.

Hector and Deena swim. He considers sulphur,knows of charcoal at the campfire, and but for potassium nitratehe might create “Boom.” Scraping some of the last froma cave wall, he hears Deena scream. Weird monsters chase herbut hate sunlight. The two are safe but separated. The rocktribe captures Deena, who, seeing Michael, appeals, “Friend. Friend. Help.” Ah, so Hector is alive. The brunette issad, but Michael explains, “You belong to me, only you.” He takes Deena back with some other cavemen. After a near attackand the reunion of the Europeans, the volcano blows. Stock footageof lava and dying lizards. Afterwards, the rock tribe is trappedby stock footage lizards, especially an iguana, in their caves. Jabbing doesn’t work; rocks from above doesn’t work; dynamitecreating an avalanche does.

The tribes are on the verge of fighting again,but Hector and Michael show “good will” as an example. Hector has been studying the heavens and has decided that they’llbe close to earth again in seven years and can work on planningwhat to do. Smirking at their women, they decide that’s “nottoo long,” “no, not long at all.”

Commentary: This is, I suppose, an impressive job of blenderizing Verne’sidea with stock footage, but hell, just read the book and watchOne Million B.C.! Having seen the footage before (a dozentimes for some of it) makes this pretty tedious viewing. Useof the bloody fighting-lizards footage by now has turned intoobsessive compulsive cruelty.