Dinosaurs were box office gold back in the late 60s and early 70s. The thrill seeking cinema goers of the time liked nothing better than a snarling T Rex, a cave girl in a fur bikini and Doug McClure scoffing a Stegosaurus steak straight off the campfire. It was a genre that spawned much loved classics such as The Land That Time Forgot, Valley Of The Gwangi and Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
In 1968 veteran British director Rex Lumb took the triceratops by the horns and made a film that combined his love of dramatic action sequences and pedantic officialdom - MCC Million Years BC. As well as directing the film Lumb also wrote the screenplay and was instrumental in making the radical decision not to cast actors in the lead roles - but to bring a touch of reality to his epic by employing the MCC men to play themselves.
|A blood thirsty Umpireosarus signals a 'wide' after Lord Griffith's wild attempt to hit it with a coconut.|
The story is a simple one. An unexpected earthquake occurs in St John's Wood just as a special dinner is being held at Lord's in honour of the surviving former Presidents of the MCC. The chaps have just sat down to enjoy the soup course when the earthquake splits Lord's in two; sending members, presidents and waiting staff scurrying for cover. Confused and angry, the former presidents flee the confines of the Long Room only to find they are sucked into a vortex of swirling energy that drags them into a time tunnel - which has appeared as a giant crack in the wicket - and deposits them in a strange prehistoric land where dinosaurs are king.
Not everyone survives the trip. Hubert Doggart is instantly eaten by a Giganotosaurus and a terrifying carnivorous flightless bird - attracted by his colourful egg and bacon jacket - chases and kills Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. The remaining MCC presidents suddenly realise the enormity of their predicament: they are inquorate and, as such, an important meeting of the finance sub-committee cannot go ahead.
Things take a turn for the worse when the former presidents discover that they are not alone in the unforgiving wilderness of prehistoric NW8. A savage breed of cave people soon make themselves known and these hairy, club wielding Neanderthals quickly enrage the MCC presidents by their brutish behaviour, lack of manners and refusal to wear ties.
|"Get her out - she's a woman!" Cave girl Flint is politely asked to leave in accordance with Regulation 43.2 (d).|
The film is best known for its action scenes. Most memorable, perhaps, is the part where Plum Warner and Arthur Gilligan fight off a trio of hungry pterodactyls whilst drafting a letter to the Times about parking restrictions in St John's Wood High Street.
But there are sensitive moments amongst the cut and thrust. There is a heartwarming sub plot where the Right Hon. Sir Alec Douglas Home falls madly in love with simple cave girl 'Flint'. Although handicapped by language difficulties the couple's relationship blossoms until the fateful moment when a rabid Tyrannosaurus Rex attacks the member's makeshift pavilion and, with no women allowed inside, poor Flint perishes at the hands of the prehistoric predator.
The film did well enough at the box office but its lack of star names meant that it was quickly forgotten. Lumb tried to resurrect the formula in 1973 with his mafia influenced The Chairman, about an aging MCC official who is also head of an organised crime dynasty. But the public refused to believe that one man could successfully combine chairing the Arts and Libraries Committee whilst fighting running battles with some of Italy's most vicious drug barons and the film flopped.