Beyond the Time Barrier

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Beyond the Time Barrier
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer
Produced by Robert Clarke
Screenplay by Arthur C. Pierce
Starring Robert Clarke
Darlene Tompkins
Vladimir Sokoloff
Music by Darrell Calker
Cinematography Meredith M. Nicholson
Edited by Jack Ruggiero
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release date(s)
  • July 1960 (1960-07) (United States)
Running time 75 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$125,000

Beyond the Time Barrier is a 1960 Cold War era black and white time travel science fiction film filmed in ten days in Texas. It was produced by and starred Robert Clarke and was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Ulmer's wife Shirley acted as a script editor whilst their daughter Arianne Arden co-starred as a Russian pilot.[1]


U.S. Air Force test pilot Major Bill Allison (Robert Clarke) flies an experimental aircraft to sub-orbital spaceflight successfully but loses radio contact. He lands at his airbase that now is abandoned and seems old and unused. Mystified by his surroundings, he sees a futuristic city on the horizon where he is rendered unconscious and captured by the inhabitants.

Allison discovers that he has entered a wormhole through time and has landed in the year 2024 that contains survivors from a cosmic plague that hit the Earth starting in 1971. The inhabitants of the dystopia who are dying out live in an underground city called The Citadel. They are led by the Supreme (Vladimir Sokoloff) and his mute and telepathic granddaughter Princess Trirene (twenty-year old, at the time, Darlene Tompkins). Against them are the literal outsiders, the bald violent mutants who seek to kill everyone they can. Also present are similar accidental time travelers labeled "scapes"; the Russian Captain Markova (Arianne Ulmer) who came from 1973 and General Kruse (Stephen Bekassy) and Professor Bourman (John Van Dreelen) who have come from 1994 to escape the plague of the time.



Producer Robert Clarke had been exhausted by both directing and acting in his The Hideous Sun Demon, so he sought a director of vision with whom he with could work. He had previously worked with director Edgar G. Ulmer on The Man from Planet X and respected his work. As Clarke's funds were coming from Texas, the backers made him shoot the film there,[2] where conveniently motion picture unions did not have any influence. Clarke filmed in the Texas Centennial Exhibition Fair Park buildings. He obtained cooperation from the US Air Force and Texas Air National Guard allowing him to film at Fort Worth's Carswell Air Force Base and the abandoned Marine Corps Air Station Eagle Mountain Lake,[3] as well as use footage of an F-102 Delta Dart for the test plane. The film's action sequences uses Air Force weapons of the time, M1 carbines and M1911A1 pistols, with the actors taking care not to fire the weapons directly at each other. The film's working title was The Last Barrier.[4]

Production designer Ernst Fegté designed a triangular motif to be used in the futuristic sets filmed in the empty showground buildings where surplus parachutes had to be hung up in the background to stop echoes.

Clarke chose Darlene Tompkins over several contenders for the mute and psychic Trirene, including Yvette Mimieux (who appeared in The Time Machine) and Leslie Parrish.[5] Ulmer selected his daughter Arianne for the role of Captain Alicia Markova, whose name came from the ballerina of the same name. Ulmer choreographed her daughter's movements similar to a ballet dance that required her to loosen her flight suit.

When giving her speech inciting the mutants to revolt in a Soviet uprising, Arianne deliberately used voice inflections similar to Laurence Olivier reciting the St. Crispin's Day Speech speech from Henry V.[6] American International Pictures (AIP) added scenes to the mutant uprising sequence from their Journey to the Lost City. One of the mutants was played by the screenwriter Arthur C. Pierce. Pierce was also involved in the production and worked as an assistant editor.

Tompkins recalled that the actors playing the mutants, whose makeup was done by Jack Pierce, taught her how to play cribbage on the set dressed in their costumes.[7] Tompkins also was asked to do a nude swimming scene for overseas release which was done by a body double. During initial filming of her swimming in a flesh colored bathing suit, the film crew used the swimming pool of the motel where they were staying; their night filming was disrupted by a fire at the motel.[7]

Former football player Boyd Morgan did the stunts and played the Captain of the Guard. Darrell Calker, the music chief of Walter Lantz's cartoons, provided an effective film score.

AIP's James H. Nicholson was keen on releasing the film based on his teenage daughters' recommendation following their viewing a screening of the film and sent him to his partner Samuel Z. Arkoff, who asked Clarke what he wanted to do with the film. Clarke said he wanted to produce several films for AIP, but Arkoff said AIP didn't use contract producers. Clarke found a similar, but newer and inexperienced film company called Pacific International Pictures (PIP) or Miller-Consolidated Pictures who were keen on using Clarke and releasing his films. However, PIP went bankrupt and AIP was able to purchase two of Clarke's films held by PIP for just the laboratory costs and release them under the AIP banner. AIP exploited MGM's publicity for The Time Machine by releasing their film a month before MGMs. Clarke was paid only his actor's salary.[8]

The film was originally released on a double bill with The Amazing Transparent Man, another Ulmer-directed film.


  1. ^ Beyond the Time Barrier at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Weaver, Tom, Brunas, John & Michael Interviews with B Science Fiction Movie Makers McFarland, 2006, p.89
  3. ^ Freeman, Paul. Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Northwestern Fort Worth area, 2011.
  4. ^ TCM notes.
  5. ^ p.174 Lisanti, Tom Drive-In Dream Girls McFarland
  6. ^ p.333 Weaver, Tom Science Fiction and Fantasy Flashbacks 2004 McFarland
  7. ^ a b Lisanti, Tom Science Fiction Confidential McFarland, p.300
  8. ^ p.89 Weaver, Tom, Brunas, John & Michael Interviews with B Science Fiction Movie Makers 2006 McFarland

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