Notes: A made-for-TV movie by Rankin-Bass (yes, the same people who brought us Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer).
On the videocassette box: "A Land Where Time Was Forgotten! . . .

Masten Thrust: Richard Boone
Francesca "Frankie" Banks: Joan Van Ark
Charles "Chuck" Wade: Steven Keats
Bunta: Luther Rackley
Dr. Kawamoto: Tatsu Nakamura
With Carl Hansen.

Summary/Commentary: We see film of an elephant charging. "Did you really shoot that?" asks a woman. Masten Thrust says, in world-weary fashion, "Yeah, I shot it." "Oh, what an ugly alligator! Did you shoot that too?" "It's not an alligator; it's a crocodile. And yes, I shot it." He chuckles. "See that ram? They say that that was an endangered species. You know they're gonna put cows on the list next?" He mentions the "Loch Ness monster. They haven't found it yet, but it's already on that endangered species list." "You've done everything!" "No, maybe not everything." He tosses her a scrapbook, saying, "Look at that. It might amuse you." We see his decor: mounted heads of his kills and fur rugs. (Cp. Doyle's description of Lord John Roxton's bachelor pad in The Lost World.)

Credits roll with "The Last Dinosaur" sung by Nancy Wilson: "Most men have failed where he's prevailed. . . . The world holds nothing new in store for him. . . . His time has passed; there are no more. He is the last dinosaur." Meanwhile, we see scrapbook material as viewed by the woman (who owns a poodle -- what is a poodle doing in a dinosaur movie like this?! Answer this question and you've got the key!) Pictures show Thrust as victorious over Nazis and in various other manly triumphs. Later, the Port City News headline reads: "Animal Lovers Take Aim at Thrust." The last picture in the book show an aged but rugged Thrust "thrusting" his fist at the camera.

He leaves the woman at an airport with a solid gold bullet: "A token of my appreciation. . . . When times get really tough, you can bite on it." Kiss-off.

At Thrust Industries, Thrust mistakes Francesca Banks, press representative and photographer, for a groupie. Dr. Kawamoto insists on being assured "that this effort will go forward in the interest of science. . . . I've seen those mounted animals like herds around your gameroom walls." He receives Thrust's word.

At the press conference, he explains that Thrust Industries was "drilling for oil successfully under the polar cap" with their "Polar-Borer V." Geologist and only survivor Chuck Wade babbles, "Everything was A-okay until 5-8-0 level. . . . cast off a 0700 . . . received an affirmative that we had an abort situation but before we could activate. . . . something moving above the trees in the haze, an enormous animal." Ultimately, the other four crew members "didn't see it until it was too late, and then, then they were gone." The press ask frantically what he means. Thrust says, "They were eaten." "By what, Mr. Thrust?" "As far as we know, it was Tyrannosaurus Rex, the largest carnivore that ever lived, the king of the dinosaurs. That film was taken in the New York Museum of Natural History. You can see from the skeleton how large that animal is. It's 20 feet high and 40 feet long. It weighs 8 tons. Yes, prehistoric, and we are gonna find it. We are going to find that animal. . . . No, I don't intend to kill that animal. It will not be hunted; it will not be harmed. It will be studied, observed, and photographed. It will be treated exactly as Dr. Kawamoto has prescribed" The exploration team will consist of Thrust, Kawamoto, Wade, a press representative, and Thrust's "Masai tracker," Bunta.

At a Japanese dinner, Thrust toasts with: "Here's to a giant step backward for mankind." [Note the trappings associated with Japanese dinner in Japanese surroundings -- the politeness, the swans in the artificially formed pond, the carefully placed rocks and trimmed hedges of the gardens, the sushi (raw fish but so ritualized and formalized that one is robbed of the essence of sticking one's face into a river and chewing on a live one).] Frankie, the press photographer, wins Thrust over by talking guns. "You are a hunter?!" She describes the .22 single-shot Wesson her father gave her (and its walnut stock, nickel plating, double trigger guards, 7 or 8 pounds), and Thrust has the same gun in his collection (adjustable front site). Quelle romance! She takes him to bed to show him war photos.

Before the expedition, Thrust insists, "I will not risk one more man--one more life."

In this "land that time forgot," a volcano heats the water (as Dr. K. determines), it's 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and we see pine trees and pterodactyls. "Utterly beautiful," says Frankie. Thrust: "Glaciers, forests, like the beginning of time." "It's a little frightening. Everything seems kind of suspended," says Frankie. What Chuck identifies as "one of the ceratopceans" rambles along and threatens to run down Frankie who takes photos. Tensions between Wade and Thrust begin.

Bunta polished his sword; "Bunta means the owner of 100 wives and 1000 head of cattle." A pterodactyl swoops low overhead.

Thrust takes his gun the next day: "I said the animal would not be hunted, but if we get in a jam. . . ." They trek. Chuck describes the place as a "botanist's dream," but Frankie says, "to me it's more like walking in the bottom of a salad bowl." "Imagine: we're the first humans to ever break a path here." They discover enormous tracks of the T. Rex. Says Wade: "Paleontologists have called them the crown of creation, the king of the super-tyrant lizards." Thrust: "Well, that sure sounds poetic. The tracks lead straight down that way." Frankie encounters a giant turtle and giant leeches. Finally, faced with a tyrannosaur, other dinosaurs prove of no interest or value. The animals slathers and gives out Godzilla-like noises, and slowly pursues the humans. Thrust and Bunta try to shoot and spear it, Thrust insisting he try to "stop it here." "What do you mean stop it?" "Stop it: I mean kill it." Thrust's gun jams. Wade take Thrust to task: "We were only supposed to take film and study it. . . . Oh, I see; I see it very clearly now. You intended to kill that dinosaur all along, to add it to your collection of stuffed animals." "Oh, shut up."

The T. Rex, perhaps annoyed that Bunta did spear it in the chest, after eating a fish, discovers the campsite, steps on Dr. Kawamoto, wrecks the camp, and flings the Polar-Borer to a cave, where he partially buries the capsule. (Do lizards play? Do they act out plans of vengeance?) He then has a motiveless fight with a triceratops.

On discovering the destroyed campsite, Thrust speechifies: "That's it. This animal, this eight-ton animal is a carnivore. It eats meat. Us! This 40-foot monster, with a brain the size of a dried pea has just destroyed a man with one of the great minds of this century. That is its fifth victim and I tell you this: it is the last. I will hunt that thing down and I will kill it." "With what?" laughs Frankie, "All our equipment, everything is ruined." "Then I will have to make a weapon. And, by God, I will not leave here until I have destroyed that thing!"

They discover the Polar-Borer gone. "I suppose it must have been curious because it was shiny" and so sunk it. There will be no rescue mission.

After four months, we find out that the natives are learning: "sharpening the ends of 'em [their sticks] probably on rocks, imitating our spears." "They're learning."

"Well there it is: second straight day and no game." "We've hunted the area out. We gotta move on." [They depleted the area where a 40-foot carnivore lives?] "Chuck, if we leave the sanctuary of that cave at night, that tribe out there is gonna pick us off like that! We've gotta find some way to drive them out for good." "Oh yeah, how? There's gotta be easily 20 or 30 of 'em." "We gotta have a weapon of some kind." "Oh, sure; why don't we get ourselves a bazooka and uh maybe a minuteman missile." "No, no; but maybe I've got something almost as good." Thrust has been "messin' around with some of that debris that was left over after Kawamoto was killed."

Frankie crabs: "I hope you've got something." Chuck: "Are you kidding? We're lucky we got back ourselves." "Then you didn't?! What happened?" "How long have we been here, huh? Two months? Three?" "No, more like four." "Do you remember in the beginning how, how those savages . . . were afraid of us. I mean they wouldn't even come near us. Remember? We started leaving parts of the kill that we didn't want. That's where we made our mistake. Now they fight us for the game. It's like having a pack of jackals constantly at your feet." "Well, if they're human why can't you make contact with them--try to be friendly instead of fighting?" "Sweetheart, they're some spin-off of Robustus, earliest known man." "Yeah, well you can tame wild animals; why not them?" "Yeah. Have you ever heard of anybody attempting to tame a uh an adult male baboon? They're naturally vicious. We're lucky we--lucky all they got was just the rabbit. . . . No, no. We have to move on and find more game. They've been constantly harassing us. It's too dangerous to travel far." "What do you mean? You've got weapons. You've got knives and spears." "We need a rifle, a pistol." "Do you realize what we're doing. We are sitting here and we're calmly discussing murder?" "Well, I'm afraid that it's come down to that. Because if we don't break out of here and get something to eat, we are gonna get weaker and weaker; and one morning we're gonna wake up to the sound of heads being cracked open. Ours." "Well, I think it's horrible having to kill each other to survive." "Would you just knock it off? If we don't kill, we don't survive. You're the one who's always complaining all the time when we come back from the hunt without any fresh meat. . . ." "Maybe it's because I'm the one that has to butcher all your bloody kills and I'm the one who does all the cooking and I'm the one who. . . ." Aggression turns to romance again, interrupted by Thrust.

"They've never come that close before," warns Frankie, regarding the natives. Thrust has a crossbow made "from the bits and pieces of Dr. Kawamoto's stuff." He shoots a native. Wade: "They don't understand it, but one thing is clear: we can make them dead."

Triumphant is the jubilee when they carry back a dead fowl including jokes about gourmet meals from "Hazel," the native woman who becomes Frankie's "first domestic servant, the first lady's maid." "That stinking damn thing got in my bed!" shouts Thrust before he realizes, "She brought me the site of my rifle." [Again, associations with guns win him over.]

The two women are grooming when the T. Rex appears, and Frankie runs through its legs and into a cave. The men shout insults and aggressive taunting to attract the attention of the dinosaur: "C'mon, birdbrain!" "C'mon, let's see what you can do!" "C'mon you big dragon!" "You pea-brain nothing!" A dislodged boulder tied to its tail drags it down the hill.

Thrust wants to go after the dinosaur. Chuck whines, "Leave it alone." "It will not leave us alone. It will continue to plague us until we are chewed, and swallowed, and dissolved; and I am not ready for that. I'm gonna take it first." He builds a catapult. "What happens if he doesn't show up?" "Oh, he'll show up alright. We've got the best bait in the world." "Really? What's that?" "Us."

Chuck to Frankie: "Maybe if he can kill the damn thing and get it over with, he'll come around. It's become an obsession with him." But Chuck finds the Polar-Borer. Thrust: "First we get the dinosaur; then we think about leaving." Chuck: "To hell with Masten; he likes this life. He is more primitive than that Robustus tribe." Frankie: "After all we've been through, I'd like to think that we're still civilized enough to be compassionate."

Bunta is killed. Frankie and Thrust talk. "I want you to come back with us." "I got a better idea. You stay here with me. I like that idea. Adam and Eve. Now you tell me the truth; what's back there for you? Confusion, frustration. Here's where life is--pure, simple. We could make love; we could hunt. And what the hell else is there, huh?" "You don't belong here. You come back with me now and I'll gladly be your Eve anywhere in the world." "I believe you would, crazy lady." Their kiss is interrupted by an attack. The boulder is catapulted onto the head of the dinosaur. But it lives. Masten throws explosives to no avail. They hide.

Later, Frankie pleads: "Masten, please. You've done all anyone could and you were just magnificent; but please, let the dinosaur go. Let it be. It's the last one." "So am I." Frankie and Chuck run off. After a final wave, Thrust walks off alone, trailed gradually by the native woman. After the closing theme song, we hear the roar of the dinosaur. (Oooo!)

[Post"script": I have to admit, I love this dorky movie. Richard Boone is trés cool, and I had like this totally major crush on Joan Van Ark when I was whatever and before she grew so obsessed with trying not to age.]