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 dates
  • 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 Texas in ten days . It starred and was produced by Robert Clarke and directed by Edgar G. Ulmer. Ulmer's wife Shirley acted as a script editor while their daughter Arianne Arden appeared 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, though losing radio contact in flight. When Major Allison returns to the airbase it appears abandoned, old and deserted. Mystified by the surroundings, he sees a futuristic city on the horizon where there had been nothing standing before the flight. the Major is rendered unconscious and captured by the city inhabitants.

Allison learns that he had entered a wormhole in time, finding himself in the year 2024, on an earth occupied by survivors of a cosmic plague that struck in 1971. The inhabitants of the dystopia are fast dying out, and live in an underground city called The Citadel. They are led by the Supreme (Vladimir Sokoloff) and his mute and telepathic granddaughter Princess Trirene (then twenty-year old Darlene Tompkins). Attacking them are literal outsiders, bald and violent mutants determined to kill everyone. Also present are other 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 arrived from 1994 to escape the ongoing plague.



Producer Robert Clarke was exhausted from directing and acting in his production, The Hideous Sun Demon, and sought a director for this film. He had previously worked with Edgar G. Ulmer on The Man from Planet X and respected him.[2] Clarke's funds originated in Texas, and the backers stipulated that the film be shot there,[2] where motion picture unions had no influence. Clarke filmed in the Texas Centennial Exhibition Fair Park buildings. He secured 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] He obtained and used film footage of an F-102 Delta Dart standing in for the test plane. The film's action sequences used Air Force weapons, M1 carbines and M1911A1 pistols, with the actors taking care not to fire the weapons directly at one another. The film's working title was The Last Barrier.[4]

Production designer Ernst Fegté employed a triangular motif for the futuristic sets that were filmed in the vacant showground buildings. Surplus parachutes were hung in the background to muffle 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 the daughter's movements similar to a ballet dance as she loosened 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 footage to the mutant uprising sequence from their film Journey to the Lost City. One mutant was played by the screenwriter Arthur C. Pierce. Pierce was involved in the production and worked as an assistant editor.

Tompkins recalled that the actors portraying the mutants, whose makeup was created by Jack Pierce, taught her how to play cribbage on the set while in costume.[7] Tompkins was asked to do a nude swimming scene for overseas release. She refused and swimming scenes were done by a body double. When filming her swimming in a flesh colored bathing suit, the crew used the motel swimming pool where they were staying; their night filming was disrupted by a fire that broke out at the motel.[7]

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

AIP's James H. Nicholson was keen on releasing the film based on his teenage daughters' recommendation after screening the film. AIP partner Samuel Z. Arkoff, 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 working with Clarke and releasing his films. However, PIP went bankrupt and AIP was able to purchase two of Clarke's films held by PIP for no more than the laboratory costs. The films were released 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 acting 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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