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By John Chard May 7, 2017
The Western fantasy film boosted by some Harryhausen genius.
Shot in Technicolor by Erwin Hillier and in Dynamation, The Valley Of Gwangi sees Tuck Kirby (James Franciscus) and a team of cowboys get more than they bargained for when they enter a hidden valley in Mexico. For here, prehistoric creatures reside and the cowboys come up with the idea of capturing a Tyrannosaurus Rex to become the chief attraction in the circus they work at.
The makers of Gwangi never hid their motivations or homages, from the off they wanted to nod towards King Kong whilst pairing the Western and Fantasy genres in the process. The result of which is an enjoyable if unfulfilled movie that again sees Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion creations save the day. Directed by Jim O'Connolly with a screenplay by William Bast, The Valley Of Gwangi suffers not because of its bonkers plot (this is after all why we watch this type of genre offering), but more because of the slow first half that threatens to put the viewer into torpor. Thankfully the film is saved by the afore mentioned Harryhausen who unleashes prehistoric joys on the B movie cast (tho Laurence Naismith is considerably better than the material given him). While the ending raises the adrenaline sufficiently enough to have made the wait worth while. Jerome Moross lifts from his brilliant score for The Big Country with mixed results; it just feels out of place here, even if it's stirring and pleasing to the ears. And the Almería, Andalucía location work in Spain is at one with the material to hand.
Saturday afternoon monster fun to be enjoyed with either popcorn or something stronger from the drinks cupboard. 6/10
By Potential Kermode February 16, 2017
**Ray Harryhausen's best work**
Forget the patches of swinging sixties dialogue and the questionable acting prowess of Gila Golan and let us instead consider Harryhausen's superb animation, the beauty of Erwin Hillier's Technicolor photography and Jerome Moross' unbeatable western musical score - definitely the best soundtrack for a western ever recorded. Yes, indeed, _even better_ than his score for The Big Country.
James Franciscus (star of Beneath the Planet of the Apes) is the hero here and although two dimensional - the old Franciscus charm saves the day. Franciscus gives us a likeable hero to root for here. Able support comes in the form of Richard Carlson ( Creature from the Black Lagoon) and Laurence Naismith as a wily professor.
A surprisingly violent film with two people ending up screaming and kicking about in the titular Gwangi's jaws - a circus midget and a mouthy Mexican - but both of them had it coming, _so that's okay._
- Potential Kermode
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