One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing
Release year: 1975
Director: Robert Stevenson
Screenwriter: Bill Walsh, David Forrest (novel)
Starring: Peter Ustinov, Bernard Bresslaw, Helen Hayes, Joan Sims, Derek Nimmo, Clive Revill, Hugh Burden, Molly Weir, Natasha Pyne
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #241, week 5 2019
Lord Southmere (Nimmo) manage to smuggle a microfilm with the formula for the mysterious ‘Lotus X’. Once back in Britain, Chinese spies capture him, but not before he hides the microfilm on one of the dinosaurs at the National History Museum and informs so to his old nanny (Hayes), whom he happens to run into. No it is up to the nannies to outmaneuver the Chinese spies and save the microfilm from falling into their hands, and British nannies are not someone you mess with!
The Walt Disney classic is a adaptation of the novel ‘The Great Dinosaur Robbery’ with the title changed to spoof the movie ‘One of Our Aircraft Is Missing’ (1942), which also starred Peter Ustinov and Hugh Burden. Though the novel is aimed at an adult audience, the movie’s humour is clearly aimed at a much younger audience making it a family friendly afternoon movie. You would have to lay politic correctness aside and find charm in the stereo typing of the age to enjoy this movie where the Asians are played by white actors made up to look Chinese. But if it offends to see the jokes made out of the Asians, rest assured that they make the same amount of jokes about the habits of the tea-drinking Brits. The story is simple with a very long car chase, where every change at a joke is taken advantage of to its fullest. Nimmo (Casino Royale, 1967) is perfectly posh as Lord Southmere and Ustinov (Death on the Nile, 1978) and Revill (Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back, 1980) fun as the main spies, but this movie belongs to the ladies. A terrific Hayes (A Farewell to Arms, 1932) and Sims (Don’t Loose Your Head, 1967) lifts the movie to new comic heights with their wonderful capable, strong-willed and very British nannies while Pyne (The Taming of the Shrew, 1967) manage to make you laugh by simply talking about her excitement with a bright smile. It is a charming espionage comedy typical for the 1970s and with great performances all around.
The source novel – “The Great Dinosaur Robbery” by Robert Forrest Webb and David Eliades under the pseudonym David Forrest – was written with an adult audience in mind. It was also set in New York. Both authors researched the location and time period thoroughly with a lot of help from the American Museum of Natural History. They were highly disappointed with the Disney Studios’ decision to make a children’s movie from the material.
Several of the cast members were familiar with comedy from starring in Carry On series of films.
Hnup Wan’s hideout is called The Reluctant Dragon, a reference to Disney’s 1941 feature film of the same name.
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Picture copyrights: Disney