Valley of the Dragons (1961 film)

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Valley of the Dragons
Valley of the dragons poster.jpg
Theatrical Poster.
Directed byEdward Bernds
Produced byByron Roberts
Al Zimbalist
Written byEdward Bernds
Story byDonald Zimbalist
Based onthe novel Career of a Comet by Jules Verne
StarringCesare Danova, Sean McClory, Joan Staley and Danielle De Metz
Music byRuby Raskin
CinematographyBrydon Baker
Edited byEdwin H. Bryant
Zimbalist-Roberts-Bernds Productions[1]
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • November 1961 (1961-11)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States

Valley of the Dragons (UK title: Prehistoric Valley) is a black and white 1961 American science fiction film loosely based on Jules Verne's Off on a Comet and heavily dependent on stock footage from the movies One Million B.C., King Dinosaur, Cat-Women of the Moon and Rodan.[3] Director Edward Bernds says the film was built around stock footage from One Million B.C.[2]


Two men preparing for a duel in 1881 Algiers, Irishman Michael Denning and Frenchman Hector Servadac, are swept from the face of the Earth by a passing comet and find themselves on another world with cavemen and prehistoric animals. They try to find a way back to Earth. (Servadac is the only one of 36 characters retained from the original novel.)

The men are separated after an attack from a mammoth. Servadac finds refuge with the River People and falls for a beautiful blonde, Deena. Denning falls in with the brunette Cave People, where he falls in love with Nateeta.

The two men are reunited rescuing the Cave People from attacking dragons with an avalanche. They persuade the River People and Cave People to stop fighting and settle down with their respective women. They vow to try and get on the Earth the next time the comet approaches in seven years.



The film was produced by Al Zimbalist who says he was given a copy of the Verne novel that his 16 year old son Don had found in a London bookshop.[4] Director Edward Bernds says the novel had not been published in the US due to its anti semitism.[2]

Jules Verne adaptations were in vogue at the time ever since the success of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days. Zimbalist had the rights to footage for One Million B.C. (1940). Zimbalist and his partner Bryan Roberts formed a company to adapt the novel.[2]

"Jules Verne is a bigger name than Marlon Brando," said Zimbalist. "Maybe bigger. Verne has never had a flop. And there is no limit to how much money you can make with Verne. Look at Around the World in 80 Days. Fantastic. Verne is for any size budget. If you want to spend millions, like Mike Todd, you can spend. If you want to spend less than a million, like me, that's okay, too. With Verne you don't have to have a Marilyn Monroe."[5]

"Verne is the purest kind of escapist," said Zimablist, adding that "whatever you say about his imagination and his genius, he just did not have a good storyline."[4]

Bernds wrote a ten page treatment, which Zimbalist took to Columbia Pictures to obtain finance. Bernds then wrote the script. He said the only contribution Al Zimablist's son Don made to the film was finding the original novel in the bookshop; Don Zimablist gets a "story by" credit but Bernds says this was only because his father asked for it.[2]

It was shot in "Living Montascope" on the Columbia backot.[6] Bernds says making the film at Columbia was inefficient because the movie had to absorb studio overhead and he would have gotten greater production value for the budget if the film had been made outside. He says Columbia executives had a clause where if the film went over budget, Zimbalist and Roberts would forfeit their fees. However he says he was saved by the fact that Zimbalist ensured the amount of company overhead was fixed, and that the filmmakers could use a left over jungle set from Columbia's The Devil at Four O'Clock (1961) that cost half a million to make; the entire film was shot on that set. The movie was completed on budget.[2]

Bernds re-used a spider from his earlier film World Without End (1956).[2]


Bernds says the film was financially successful and had a long run on television. Bernds believed that, in residual cheques for television showings over the years, Valley of the Dragons gave him more income than his script work on the Elvis Presley picture Tickle Me.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 'Sardonicus' will arrive. (1961, Dec 02). Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Weaver, Tom (2006). Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers: Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup. McFarland. pp. 62–64.
  3. ^ Scheuer, P. K. (1961, Jan 26). 'A fever in blood' ingenious in plot. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  4. ^ a b By MURRAY SCHUMACH Special to The New York Times. (1961, Feb 03). HOLLYWOOD MINES THE GOLD IN VERNE. New York Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from
  5. ^ THE KID'S A COMER. (1961, Feb 08). Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) Retrieved from
  6. ^ Scheuer, P. K. (1961, Jan 23). Marshall reported a 'miracle' find. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) Retrieved from

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