June 30th, 2013: Dinosaurus! (1960)


Cast and Crew:  Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr. (Director); Jack H. Harris (Original Idea)

What It’s About:  Bart Thompson (Ward Ramsey) is constructing a port for an unnamed Caribbean island’s governor. The governor’s “head man”, Mike Hacker (Fred Engelberg), wants a pay off for keeping the islanders from working for Bart.  Hacker’s Kennito Julio wants to play with the big construction equipment and charms Dumpy, Bart’s mustachioed komic relief. Bart’s girl, Betty (Kristina Hanson) is astoundingly clueless and domestic, (even by the standards of a 1960 monster movie aimed squarely at 12 year olds), shows up when the guys are doing underwater blasting. This leads to Betty getting mad (even though she ignored warning signs, flags and the shouts of the men doing the blasting) because her cooler full of lunch fell off her boat! When she goes underwater to fetch it she sees a dinosaur head-and faints, underwater!

Bart brings her up, refuses to believe her story, but then right-hand-man Chuck (Paul Lukather) jumps in and confirms it-there are two dinosaurs down there! Strangely, all that Bart gets from this is that there is another obstacle to digging and so he pulls the dino’s up and just leaves them on the beach to rot! (The dinos were preserved by “a cold underwater spring” ).  Julio helpfully informs us that the dinosaurs are a Brontosaurus and a T-Rex. Unseen by anyone but Mike Hacker is the body of a Neanderthal (Gregg Martell), which he hides with the plan of selling it. He also doesn’t send the telegram to the governor that Bart asks him to, but instead gets his two Komedic henchmen, and the three of them plan to remove the Neanderthal to the mainland.

Meanwhile, Bart leaves his “komedic” Irish drunk employee T.J. O’Leary (James Logan) to watch over the dinosaurs. Unfortunately luck isn’t with this particular Irish-stereotype, as lightning strikes both dinosaurs, waking them. Drunky tries to blow up the T-Rex with dynamite, but only succeeds in getting himself eaten and then blown up by his own dynamite! The Brontosaurus runs off into the jungle-and strangely, so does the Neanderthal, who apparently was also hit by lightning.

Bart and his men quickly sauce out what happened to O’Boozy, and together a quick plan-Chuck will take the men’s construction equipment to the ruins up on the hills of the island, dig out the old moat, and fill it with gasoline to form a barrier. Bart will go to Betty’s parents to use her father’s ham radio to contact the outside world (the storm has taken out the power and the telegraph lines) while Betty and Dumpy go into town and tell everyone to head for the hills. Mike gets sent off to look for Julio, who ran into the jungle, but of course he’s really looking for the Neanderthal.  Naturally none of these plans will go exactly as planned….

Why Watch it Today?: The word Dinosaur was first used publicly on this date in 1841.  What better way to honor this august moment than with a movie which can’t even use the word correctly, postulates Neanderthal and dinosaur interactions, and generally is terrible at science.  Thankfully, it’s also hilariously wrong headed and goofy.

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