The Land That Time Forgot (1974)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 6/27/15
Director: Kevin Connor
Writer: Edgar Rice Burroughs
Special Effects: Derek Meddings
Cast: Doug McClure, John McEnery, Susan Penhaligon

A German submarine sinks a British merchant vessel during World War I. A handful of survivors make it aboard the sub, which wanders off course to the South Atlantic. Out of fuel, water, and supplies, the sub miraculously encounters a fabled continent called Caprona, which is populated by prehistoric dinosaurs and primitive cavemen. Calling for a truce, the Germans and the British work together to survive and figure out a way back home, but the unstable geological activity of Caprona may make that impossible.

Despite the terrible matte paintings, unconvincing rear projection, and crude puppetry, the film is quite charming and the action is riveting. Doug McClure is a strong, sensible, and likable hero, and while there's a certain American brashness about him, it's tempered with tolerance and humility. John McEnery steals the show as the German U-boat captain, and imbues his character with sympathy, compassion, intelligence, cunning, and respect. Even though they represent different sides and ideals, McClure and McEnery respect each other and make an excellent team. Susan Penhaligon plays McClure's wife, who happens to be a biologist and takes part in McEnery's intellectual pursuits. She's surprisingly treated with a lot of respect, and even though she's often a damsel in distress, there are no sexist currents in the presentation. A nice variety of dinosaurs are represented, and even though the puppets look crude by modern standards, they are still entertaining to watch. The film benefits from a brisk and steady pace, and the action rarely lets up long enough for you to question or criticize what's going on. Good stuff.