Sunday Matinee: The Valley Of Gwangi

So I seem to still be on a Lost World kick and I realize I’ve never written about the entertaining 1969 movie The Valley of Gwangi. Let’s fix that. 

Set in the early 1900s, The Valley of Gwangi follows a travelling cowboy show run by T.J. Breckenridge (Gila Golan) that performs in Mexico. T.J.’s ex-boyfriend, Tuck Kirby (James Franciscus), has come back to buy her out. T.J. refuses—she’s got a new attraction that will be bring in the money: a miniature horse. But when Tuck shows Professor Bromley (Laurence Naismith) the tiny thing, Bromley claims it’s an extinct Eohippus. Whoa. Could there be other prehistoric wonders out there?

The horse came from an area called, naturally, the Forbidden Valley. Because old movies are racist, we meet a group of gypsies who insist the animal is cursed and demand it be returned. At night, they sneak in and free the horse. Tuck sees this and chases after them. One of T.J.’s men see Tuck leaving with the horse and tells T.J. that Tuck stole it. T.J., and her men, give chase.

Soon, everyone is in the Forbidden Valley and there’s bigger things to worry about than the tiny horse. Here be dinosaurs.

After several attacks and confrontations the group manages to capture a live allosaurus. Naturally, they take “Gwangi” back to show off in the circus, and naturally, things go the way all these movies go. Gwangi escapes and runs amok.

Famed effects master Willis O’Brien, who did the stop motion for films like King Kong, came up with the story but died before it got made. Ray Harryhausen, O`Brien`s former student, produced it and did the effects. It’s one of Harryhausen`s last dinosaur stop motion films and it looks great, if scientifically incorrect.

Warner Bros released the film on DVD several years ago, then moved it to the burn-on-demand Warner Archive DVD. They are about to finally release the film on Blu-ray but, again, on their burn on demand service.

Still a pretty entertaining movie despite having the same plot as The Lost World and King Kong. Hey, it’s a good plot!

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