The Time Machine (1960 film)
|The Time Machine|
Theatrical release poster by Reynold Brown
|Directed by||George Pal|
|Produced by||George Pal|
|Screenplay by||David Duncan|
|Based on||The Time Machine
by H. G. Wells
|Music by||Russell Garcia|
|Editing by||George Tomasini|
|Running time||103 minutes|
The Time Machine – also known promotionally as H.G. Wells' The Time Machine – is a 1960 science fiction film based on the 1895 novel of the same name by H. G. Wells in which a man from Victorian England constructs a time-travelling machine which he uses to travel to the future. The film stars Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux and Alan Young.
The film was produced and directed by George Pal, who had earlier made a film version of Wells's The War of the Worlds (1953). Pal always intended to make a sequel to The Time Machine, but he died before it could be produced; the end of Time Machine: The Journey Back functions as a sequel of sorts. In 1985, elements of this film were incorporated into The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal, produced by Arnold Leibovit.
On January 5, 1900, four friends arrive for a dinner at a house located near London, but their host, H. George Wells, is absent. As requested, they begin without him, but then George staggers in, exhausted and disheveled. He begins to recount his adventures since they last met on New Year's Eve, 1899.
A week earlier, George discusses time as "the fourth dimension" with friends, among them David Filby (Young) and Dr. Philip Hillyer (Sebastian Cabot). He shows them a tiny machine that he claims can travel in time, stating that a larger version can carry a man "into the past or the future". When activated, the device blurs and disappears. Most of his friends dismiss it as a trick, but after the others have gone, Filby warns George to destroy the machine. They agree to meet again next Friday with the others.
George uses the Time Machine to travel to the future. He first leaves the machine on September 13, 1917, where he meets James Filby (Young again), whom he mistakes for his father, David. James informs George that his father had "died in the war", and that the United Kingdom has been at war with Germany since 1914. He tells him that an inventor lived across the road who disappeared around the turn of the century and that his father wanted to keep the house in case the owner ever returned. George then travels to June 19, 1940, into the midst of "a new war", which he briefly stops in as his machine is buffeted from side to side. George's next stop is August 19, 1966, in a futuristic metropolis. He is puzzled to see people hurrying into a fallout shelter amid the blare of air raid sirens. An older James Filby tells him to get into the shelter. James spots an atomic satellite zeroing in and flees into the shelter. A nuclear explosion causes a volcano to erupt. Civilization is destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. George restarts the machine just in time to avoid being incinerated, but lava covers the machine, then cools and hardens, forcing him to travel far into the future until it erodes away.
He stops the machine on October 12, 802,701, next to a low building with a large sphinx on top. George explores, and spots young people by a river. A woman is drowning, but the others are indifferent. George rescues her, but is surprised by her lack of gratitude or other emotion. She calls herself Weena (Mimieux) and her people the Eloi.
George questions the Eloi, wanting to know more about their civilization. He asks about their books, only to learn they have been left to decay and turn to dust. Outraged by the Elois' apathy and lack of curiosity, George returns to where he had left his time machine, to find that it has been dragged into the sphinx-building, behind locked metal doors. Weena follows George and insists they go back, for fear of "Morlocks" at night. A monster jumps out of the bushes and tries to drag Weena off, but George rescues her and wards the beast off with fire. Weena informs him that the hideous creature was one of the Morlocks.
The next day, Weena shows George what appear to be domed well-like air-shafts in the ground. She then takes him to an ancient museum, where "talking rings" tell of a centuries-long nuclear war/holocaust. One group of survivors remained underground in the shelters and evolved into the Morlocks, while the other group, which became the Eloi, returned to the surface. George starts climbing down a shaft, but turns back when a siren begins blaring from atop the sphinx-building. Weena and the rest of the Eloi enter a trance-like state, and complacently file through the now-open doors of the building. When the siren stops, the doors close, trapping Weena and others inside.
To rescue Weena, George climbs down a shaft and enters the subterranean caverns and is horrified to discover that the Eloi are little more than free range livestock to the Morlocks, who raise and cannibalise them. He fights the Morlocks with the help of the Eloi, who prove to not be completely helpless, then escapes with them up the shafts to safety. Under his direction, they drop dry dead tree branches into the shafts to feed the fire. The entire area caves in, crushing and suffocating most of the Morlocks below. The next morning, George finds the sphinx-building in charred ruins and the doors to the building open again, with his time machine sitting just inside the entrance. He goes to retrieve his machine, but the doors close behind him and he is attacked by the remaining Morlocks. He uses the time machine to escape back to January 5, 1900 in time to meet his old friends for dinner and to tell them of his time traveling adventure. George's friends scoff at his story and leave; only Filby believes him. George leaves again in the time machine. Filby and George's housekeeper notice three books are missing from George's library which he apparently took with him. They, and the viewer, are left to speculate which three books were removed.
- Rod Taylor as George (H. George Wells, as written on the time machine)
- Alan Young as David Filby/James Filby
- Yvette Mimieux as Weena
- Sebastian Cabot as Dr. Philip Hillyer
- Tom Helmore as Anthony Bridewell
- Whit Bissell as Walter Kemp
- Doris Lloyd as Mrs. Watchett
- Paul Frees (uncredited) as Voice of the Rings
- Cast notes
George Pal was already known for pioneering work with animation. He was nominated for an Oscar almost yearly during the 1940s. Unable to sell Hollywood the screenplay, he found the British MGM studio (where he had filmed Tom Thumb) friendlier.
Pal originally considered casting a middle-aged British actor in the lead role, such as David Niven or James Mason. He later changed his mind and selected the younger Australian actor Rod Taylor to give the character a more athletic, idealistic dimension. It was Taylor's first lead role in a feature film.
MGM art director Bill Ferrari created the Machine, a sled-like design with a big, rotating vertical wheel behind the seat. The live action scenes were filmed from May 25, 1959 to June 30, 1959, in Culver City, California.
According to MGM records the film earned $1,610,000 in the United States and $1 million elsewhere, turning a profit of $245,000.
Awards and honors
- Academy Award for Best Effects, Special Effects winner (1961) - Gene Warren and Tim Baar
- Hugo Award nomination (1961)
- AFI's 10 Top 10 - Nominated Science Fiction Film
In 1993, a combination sequel-documentary short, Time Machine: The Journey Back, directed by Clyde Lucas, was produced. In the third part, Michael J. Fox talks about his experience with Time Machines from Back to the Future. In the last part, written by original screenwriter David Duncan, Rod Taylor, Alan Young and Whit Bissell reprised their roles.
- The Time Machine, a 2002 remake directed by Simon Wells and an uncredited Gore Verbinski, and starring Guy Pearce in the Taylor role.
- Time After Time, a 1979 science-fiction film in which H. G. Wells (played by Malcolm McDowell) travels to modern-day San Francisco in his time machine in pursuit of Jack the Ripper.
- The Nerdvana Annihilation, episode of The Big Bang Theory.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- October 12, 1492 was the date on which Columbus landed in 'the new world'.
- Vagg, Stephen, Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood, Bear Manor Media, 2010
- Stephen Vagg, Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood, Bear Manor Media, 2010 p64
- AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
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- Colemanzone.com: A tribute to the classic 1960 MGM movie The Time Machine
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