The Time Travelers (1964 film)

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The Time Travelers
Theatrical release poster by Reynold Brown
Directed by Ib Melchior
Produced by Bill Redlin
Samuel Z. Arkoff
Screenplay by Ib Melchior
Story by Ib Melchior
David L. Hewitt
Starring Preston Foster
Merry Anders
Music by Richard LaSalle
Cinematography Vilmos Zsigmond
Edited by Hal Dennis
American International Pictures
Distributed by American International Pictures
Release date(s)
  • October 29, 1964 (1964-10-29) (United States)
Running time 82 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Time Travelers is a 1964 science fiction film directed by B-movie director Ib Melchior that inspired the 1966 TV series The Time Tunnel as well as the 1967 remake Journey to the Center of Time. The plot involves a group of scientists who find their time-viewing screen allows them to travel through time.

It starred Preston Foster, Philip Carey, Merry Anders, Steve Franken, John Hoyt and Delores Wells. The cast also includes superfan Forrest J. Ackerman in one of his many bit roles in science fiction films.


Scientists Dr. Erik von Steiner (Preston Foster), Dr. Steve Connors (Philip Carey) and Carol White (Merry Anders) are testing their time viewing device, drawing enormous amounts of power. Danny McKee (Franken), a technician from the power plant, has been sent to tell them to shut down their experiment. During the test, odd shadows quickly cross the room before the screen shows a stark, barren landscape. Danny discovers the screen has become a portal and steps through.

As the setting is becoming unstable, the others enter the portal to bring him back. The portal disappears, stranding them. Then they are pursued by hostile primitives, ending up in a cave. There they find an underground city - all that is left of civilization in a future devastated by nuclear war.

The year is 2071 A.D. City leader Dr. Varno (John Hoyt) explains that Earth is unable to support life. The residents are frantically working on a spacecraft that will take them to a planet orbiting a distant star. The four time travelers pitch in to help complete the spaceship, but before they can lift off, the degenerate mutant humans break in and destroy the ship and the city.

The three scientists, with help from the power technician, work feverishly with future technology to rebuild their time portal. Along with a few people from the future, they escape back to the present just ahead of the mutants. One person throws an object through the gateway that damages the equipment on the other side and shuts down the portal.

The survivors return to the lab, where they make a strange discovery. Their past selves are still in the lab, yet to pass through the portal, but they appear frozen. Through some error, the travelers are experiencing time at an accelerated rate; the rest of the world, including their past selves, is moving in extremely slow motion. Their only option is to travel to the date the portal had briefly been set to before being set to 2071 A.D., a date over 100,000 years in the future. But the screen is dark and what lies ahead is unknown.

When the last one goes through, the screen flashes on briefly and shows the characters walking in a clearing with trees and grass; the implication is that the surface of the Earth has become habitable again and the characters will be able to build a future there. Then, the film shows their past selves moving at normal speed again, repeating the actions seen at the beginning of the film. The sequence of events of the entire movie is rapidly reshown, and repeats faster and faster until it abruptly ends without further explanation.



  • 44 minutes into the movie, Forrest J Ackerman appears briefly in a scene depicting several technicians. Ackerman's only line in the movie is "Don't worry. I'm keeping our spacemen happy. Getting things squared away". At this time Ackerman was editing a science-fiction magazine titled Spacemen; the movie was heavily promoted in his magazine on the basis of Ackerman's cameo appearance in the movie.

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