Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Mole People (1956)

The next film is called The Mole People, but it's not really about them. It's about some archaeologists doing field research in the remote village of "Asia". When they learn of ancient artifacts found high up on a mountain plateau, they climb to the top and find the ruins of a long lost Sumerian civilization.

When one in their group falls into a deep hole, they repel down to take a look. After a predictable cave in, they find themselves trapped and at the mercy of ... ancient Sumerians. There are mole people, but they play a much smaller role than what the title would imply. They are simple mushroom farmers fully content with their lot in life. Fully.

The ancient Sumerians mistake the archaeologists for prophets of Ishtar because they they harness the secret power of the "flashlight". They would have been heralded as gods had they also known the power of the "cigarette lighter".

So, our fearless heroes remain a house guests of the ancients while spending time searching for an exit and pondering what to do with this hot slave girl they gave him. I had a few hints. Alfred the Butler becomes suspicious and plots to steal flashy.

A few things struck me about this movie. First, the dramatic underground fight scenes would have been much more dramatic if I could actually see them. I don't thing the blame lies with my copy. The overall quality was very good. Another was that the movie would have benefited from a slightly faster pace.

On the plus side, it was cool to see Hugh Beaumont as one of the archaeologists. He would later star in The Curse of the Beaver Child (1957). Also interesting is that two actors from Tarantula return. John Agar is once again our star, and Nestor Paiva is his sidekick. Now, I'm no technical climbing expert, but the technique displayed did look about right. And while all B movies that deal with science or history get beaten up for all of the stuff they get wrong, I felt Mole People failed less than I expected. Say what you will about low expectations, but I was quite impressed.

It held my interest and I'm glad I watched it. Well acted, well written, and excepting the sometimes painfully slow pace, well made. One additional thing to quibble about: the final scene was absolutely stupid. AMRU 3.

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