Courtesy of: jacksadventuresinmuseumland.wordpress.com
There is certainly a childlike spirit associated with our use of the houseboat. Heather, as with many boats, is a den of sorts, where friends enjoy the simple pleasures of the waterways.
One of my personal passions is films and some television. Certain British films are unfairly categorised as pure nostalgia, or cranky, even at the time they were made. One particular family favourite is the playful ‘One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing’, released 40 years ago this month.
Made by Disney, One Of Our Dinosaurs is a rollicking adventure based on a serious novel, The Great Dinosaur Robbery, set in contemporary New York of the 1970’s. The screenwriters switched the story to 1923, blending the unlikely elements of a piece of microfiche film, a dinosaur skeleton, soup, diplomatic relations, nannies and Chinese spies. The result is a wonderful comical concoction which pokes fun at officialdom and nationalities. Peter Ustinov, Helen Hayes, Derek Nimmo, Joan Sims, Clive Revill, Joss Ackland, Roy Kinnear and Richard Pearson are among those who star in the film.
The early 1920’s period art work, sets, property and costumes are exceptionally accurate. Transport features a great deal in the film ~ a number of beautiful vehicles such as a Daimler saloon car, Sentinel steam wagon and canvas hooded motor charabanc add panache. Proper varnished clinker rowing skiffs glide through part of a scene, in Regent’s Park, London. The picture is all bound together with the imaginative music of Ron Goodwin.
Social attitudes are different today to what they were in 1975. Any present ill feeling is lost however, due to the charming portrayals and innumerable funny lines. Quan (Clive Revill) says to Hnup Wan (Peter Ustinov), referring to the English (people): ‘Those eyes, you never know what they’re thinking.' To which Ustinov retorts: ‘That’s the problem, most of the time they think of nothing!’
The highlight of the film strangely, is a thrilling dinosaur chase. Whenever we move Heather about, shoving her across the dyke, or towing her to a different place, we usually hail: ‘Dinosaur Move!’ as Clive Revill’s character Quan, rasps at the loading bay of Kensington's Natural History Museum. One can see the ridiculousness of real life in One Of Our Dinosaurs Is Missing. The film is available on DVD and is occasionally shown on television.
Life is unfair, but remember it is unfair in your favour.
Sir Peter Ustinov