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Along the Moonbeam Trail

Entry updated 23 May 2022. Tagged: Film.

US silent film (1920). Herbert M Dawley Production. Directed, written and with special effects by Herbert M Dawley. Cast includes Herbert M Dawley. Circa 15 minutes. Black and white.

Uncle Jack Holmes (Dawley) takes his two nephews to camp in an "enchanted wood". As they sleep, Queen Mab, fairy of dreams (see Supernatural Creatures), arrives: she gives them a magic biplane (see Transportation) that flies the trio to the Moon and beyond (see Space Flight). They see Mars, the "deposed God of War ... now but a humble traffic cop of the skies", probably a reference to the contemporary hope that World War One was "the war to end all wars" (see Optimism and Pessimism); they also see the Man in the Moon, who is smoking a cigarette; Mother Goose also makes an appearance. They "speed through the tail of a Comet, past the Pleiades, where dance the seven daughters of Atlas" (see Mythology). Attacked by "a pterodactyl, the hobgoblin of the skies" they are forced to land on a planet inhabited by Dinosaurs (see Life on Other Worlds). Hiding in a cave "like the prehistoric man [see Origin of Man] of 30 million [sic] years ago they become the prey of frightful monsters"; they watch the dinosaurs outside, including a fight between a Tyrannosaurus and a Hadrosaur. They are eventually rescued by Queen Mab and wake up back in the wood.

As it also features Jack Holmes and his nephews, this might be considered a sequel to The Ghost of Slumber Mountain (1918). However, Willis H O'Brien does not appear to have been involved, though some sources say unused special effects footage from the 1918 film appear. (IMDb credits O'Brien as co-director, whilst discounting the unused footage story.) Certainly the dinosaurs are generally less impressive than those in The Ghost of Slumber Mountain, particularly the pterodactyl. Despite its slow start, The Ghost of Slumber Mountain is the better film; however, though sillier, Along the Moonbeam Trail (1920) has the virtue of getting quickly to the action – and, unlike the other film, has a few occasions where dinosaurs and actors briefly appear in the same frames. [SP]


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