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One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing

One of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing (1975)

July. 09,1975
| Adventure Drama Action Comedy

Escaping from China with a microfilm of the formula for the mysterious "Lotus X", Lord Southmere, a Queen's Messenger, is chased by a group of Chinese spies.


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A good-natured Disney adventure which borrows its title from the WW2 flick ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING. This is a distinctly '70s production, packed with action and humour and an ensemble cast of stalwarts who appear in regular cameos. The plot is preposterous nonsense of course, and the film as a whole is laced with lurid racism and general silliness, but it's all handled in such a lively spirit that it becomes impossible not to like.Peter Ustinov headlines the cast as a Chinese agent searching for a secret formula hidden within a dinosaur skeleton by a British spy. Such plotting is merely a loose excuse for the film's pivotal and extended set-piece, which sees a huge Brontosaurus skeleton transported on the back of a wagon through the streets of London, with various villains in pursuit.The cast give engaging, witty performances, with Joan Sims and Helen Hayes particularly shining as the committed nannies and Ustinov holding it all together with his perfectly-mannered turn (which reminded me of Peter Sellers in MURDER BY DEATH). Watch out for the likes of Jon Pertwee, John Laurie, Joss Ackland, Bernard Bresslaw, John Bardon, Joan Hickson, and Amanda Barrie in minor parts.


In my opinion this is Disney's best live-action comedy. It's also one of Disney's best live-action special effect fantasies produced during the classic age of the Burbank studio. Sure it was filmed a EMI London, but it was conceived by Disney veterans Bill Walsh and Robert Stevenson and was distributed and produced by the studio in Burbank. It really is an American product that was filmed in England.I've always loved Helen Hayes involvement with Disney and felt the collaboration led to some of Disney's best live action products, 'Candleshoe' and 'Dinosaurs' are two of the studios finest live-action films, and 'Herbie Rides Again' is a very funny follow-up to the 1967 hit 'Lovebug'. Helen Hayes is a real asset to the Disney legacy and was a real 'Disney' star along with the likes of Fred MacMurray, Dean Jones, Don Knotts, Haley Mills and Jodie Foster, and of course the incredibly accomplished Peter Ustinov. All three of Hayes's film were big money makers for Disney and it's surprising they are not better remembered by Disney buffs. I had to go to England to purchase a foreign region copy of this film.The studio seems afraid to give this a serious DVD release in the States probably because they fear the broad comedy in this will be perceived as racist. I am not Chinese, but I am of mixed ethnicity and have suffered from racial discrimination myself,and I wouldn't worry about it. Ustinov is simply parodying the Asian stereotypes that were typical in spy thrillers and films from the 1930's. It's basically a send-up of the Charlie Chan stereotypes from that period(although this film is obviously set in the 1920's).I mean how racist can a movie actually be when the Chinese make comments about how "all English look alike" or "we Chinese were making tea when you English were swinging from the trees by your dirty tails." Hilarious.The special effects and 1920's production design are first rate and hold up remarkably well with CGI effects of today. The effects are very colorful and cartoonish looking, and the opening scenes in China have a real fantasy, fairy tale quality to them.Anyone saying this film is worthless or dull has something personal against it. This is an easy film to like and laugh at. And it's definitely worth a look simply for it's lavish production design alone, which, knowing Disney studios films of the past, was probably filmed on a modest budget with lots of cost cutting. A definite must see for anyone interested in the old classic Disney films.

bob the moo

Pursued by a group of fiendish Orientals, secret agent Lord Edward Southmere conceals the secret formula for Lotus X on a dinosaur skeleton. By coincidence he meets his old nanny in the museum and is able to blurt out a plea for help before he is taken away by the fiendish Orientals. The nannies sneak into the museum to search the dinosaur for the formula that is hidden there but are interrupted and abandon their search. With the fiendish Orientals holding Southmere, Hettie knows she is running out of time and has only one option – to steal the dinosaur before the fiendish Orientals can get it.With the unusual title and the memorable scenes featuring a dinosaur skeleton chasing around London I can recall elements of this from childhood but decided to watch it again before I tried to write down my thoughts on it. So it was that I sat down to a fairly amusing but inconsequential mess of a comedy. The plot is messy of course but at least it has the good taste never to take itself seriously and instead just keeps the silly slapstick action moving along. Sadly it is not witty enough to play that well to an adult audience but rather relies on slightly older children getting into the silly jokes, pratfalls and stereotypes. This is not to say that I didn't enjoy some parts of it but it never did it consistently or even half the time.The cast help a little bit but they have little to work with other than stereotypes. Following Mary Poppins, the English Nanny is put up centre stage and played reasonably well by Hayes and Sims but they seem dull compared to a performance from Peter Ustinov that is so off the wall and weird that it is worth seeing. Of course it would be impossible for someone to give the same performance today because, rightly, it is a piece of absurd stereotype to the point where I felt I should apologise to every Orential person I knew just for the sin of enjoying it. It is very close to being offensive but it is so silly that I couldn't help but enjoy it – far from his finest hour of course but fun at least. The support cast are all average, matching the tone of the film but I was entertained by the presence of several recognisable faces, including Ackland, Guyler and a few others. Nimmo is very British and good value but, as in many of the Carry On films, Bresslaw is just a big brute with little to do.Overall, an enjoyably silly film for older children but with little in it for adults. The narrative is no more than silly action and Ustinov's performance will (like Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean) either offend you or make you enjoy the film a lot more than you would without it. For me he was the main event and without him this would have just been too silly to enjoy.


Silly, disappointing Disney outing, hampered mostly by Ustinov's terrible performance. As Hercule Poirot, Ustinov has always been superb, but here he overacts embarrassingly; the same year (1976), Peter Sellers also played an inept Oriental guy for laughs, in "Murder By Death", and he was much more efficient. Besides, the film has no coherency, and the story is hopelessly uninteresting. Frankly, I can't think of one person (of any age) that will find himself caring about what will happen here.