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The Primitive Man (1914)

Brute Force (original title)
A primitive tribe are attacked by apemen and menaced by various prehistoric monsters.


D.W. Griffith


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Cast overview:
Robert Harron ... Harry Faulkner (Prologue) / Weakhands (The Old Days)
Mae Marsh ... Priscilla Mayhew (Prologue) / Lily White (The Old Days)
William J. Butler William J. Butler ... Priscilla's Father (Prologue)
Wilfred Lucas ... Brute Force
Edwin Curglot Edwin Curglot ... Caveman
Alfred Paget ... In Club (Prologue) / Tribesman (The Old Days)
Jennie Lee ... Rejected Cavewoman


A gent in formal wear, amid a club or party, dozes off reading a book about primitive man; we see the dream enacted. Weakhands loses his girlfriend to Bruteforce, but chances upon a design for a weapon to vanquish his rival and win her back. His tribe sees this and sets him up as their leader. With the club, he fends off various creatures (a winged lizard, a snake, a dinosaur) and a rival tribe led by Monkeywalk. The women even manage to repel an attack. But the rivals discover the secret of the club themselves, and capture the women. Weakhands, sitting in despair, chances upon a new weapon: the bow and arrow. With this tool, he slays the rival tribe and restores domestic tranquility. Written by Jon Reeves <jreeves@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Short | Adventure | Drama







Release Date:

25 April 1914 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Primitive Man See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Biograph Company See more »
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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Perhaps the earliest live-action film to feature dinosaurs and humans. An herbivorous Ceratosaurus is briefly featured in the film. See more »


The Ceratosaurus featured is eating vegetation, while the dinosaur was actually a carnivore. See more »


Follows Man's Genesis (1912) See more »

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User Reviews

Primitive but influential
9 August 2018 | by jamesrupert2014See all my reviews

Ally Oop-style cave men battle over women, leading to a prehistoric arms race and the triumph of brains over brawn. Brute Force (a.k.a. Primitive Man) is a simplistic short directed by the legendary D.W. Griffith. There is not much to the film: it consists mostly of a never-ending brawl between the 'with-women tribe' and the 'without-women tribe' but it may be best known for the first 'live action' dinosaur put on screen. The cast includes a number of actors featured in Griffith's silent epics (e.g. Birth of a Nation, Intolerance) as well as Harry Carey, Lionel Barrymore, and Elmo Lincoln (the first celluloid 'Tarzan'). I watched a washed-out 20 minute version on You-tube and the film likely deserves a better presentation. Amazingly, only ten years passed between this primitive vision of antediluvian Earth and Willis O'Brien's masterful dinosaurs in "The Lost World". A must see for cinephiles, but likely a pass for most others (and so problematic to rate).

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