Beyond the Time Barrier
|Beyond the Time Barrier|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Edgar G. Ulmer|
|Produced by||Robert Clarke|
|Screenplay by||Arthur C. Pierce|
|Music by||Darrell Calker|
|Cinematography||Meredith M. Nicholson|
|Edited by||Jack Ruggiero|
|Distributed by||American International Pictures|
Beyond the Time Barrier is a 1960 American 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.
U.S. Air Force test pilot Major Bill Allison 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.
When Allison wakes, he is held immobile in a dystopian underground city known as the Citadel. Unnerved by his captors' refusal to speak with him, Allison initially reacts hostilely, but he eventually calms down and is brought to their leader, the Supreme. The Supreme explains that he and his second in command, the Captain, are the only two residents of the Citadel who are capable of speech. The rest of the inhabitants, including the Supreme's granddaughter Trirene, are deaf-mutes, and everyone but Trirene has been rendered sterile. A telepath, Trirene reads Allison's thoughts and indicates to the Supreme that she believes him not to be spy, as the Captain alleges.
The Captain sends Allison to be imprisoned with a group of a bald and violent mutants who are determined to kill everyone in the Citadel. As the mutants attack him, Allison overpowers one and demands answers. They claim to be the remnants of a civilization that survived a cosmic plague, and they blame the residents of the Citadel for their current problems. The Captain releases Allison from captivity and explains that Trirene has convinced the Supreme that he is harmless. Sensing his confusion, Trirene leads him to an archive and shows him historical photographs that further explain the Citadel's history, and at his urging, leads him to the "scapes", a group of scientists mentioned by the mutants.
After disabling a security device, the scientists explain that Allison has traveled through a wormhole into the year 2024. After extensive nuclear weapons testing, the Earth's atmosphere was irrevocably damaged and subsequently let through dangerous cosmic rays in 1971. The survivors who fled underground formed the Citadel, and those who stayed above ground became the half-mad mutants. The scientists themselves are also accidental time travelers: the Russian Captain Markova comes from 1973, and General Kruse and Professor Bourman arrived from 1994. Markova explains that the Citadel also suffers from the cosmic radiation, and they need Allison to help repopulate their society. The scientists warn Allison not to trust the Citadel. As the Captain arrives to re-enable the security device, he in turn warns Allison not to trust the scientists.
As Trirene and Allison spend more time together, they fall in love. Although initially reluctant, Allison joins Markova in a plan to turn Trirene against her people so that he can escape the Citadel, return to the past, and stop the plague from happening. As the Captain angrily confronts Allison, Markova sets free the mutants, who engage in a violent uprising. When Marvoka learns that Allison plans to take Trirene with him to his own time, she objects and demands that she alone accompany him. Kruse and Bourman arrive, and Kruse shoots Markova for her treachery. After escorting Allison to Trirene, Bourman knocks out Kruse, explaining that Kruse was planning to hijack the aircraft. Allison disputes Bourman's account, and as the two struggle over Kruse's pistol, a stray bullet kills Trirene.
Allison takes Trirene's body to the Supreme, who is distraught over both his granddaughter's death and the doom of his people, now that the last fertile person has died. The Supreme directs Allison toward a secret passage that leads to the airfield and says that there is always hope. Returned to his own time, Allison recounts his fantastic adventure in a recorded debriefing to a group of Pentagon officials. As the officials visit Allison in the hospital, he is revealed to have aged to the state of an elderly man on the brink of death. Allison frantically warns them of the future events, and one of them says that they have a lot to think about.
- Robert Clarke as Maj. William Allison
- Darlene Tompkins as Princess Trirene
- Vladimir Sokoloff as The Supreme
- Boyd 'Red' Morgan as Captain
- Stephen Bekassy as Gen. Karl Kruse
- Arianne Ulmer as Capt. Markova
- John van Dreelen as Dr. Bourman
- Ken Knox as Col. Marty Martin
- Jack Herman as Dr. Richman
- Don Flournoy as Mutant
- Tom Ravick as Mutant
- James 'Ike' Altgens as Secretary Lloyd Patterson
- William Shephard as Gen. York
- Neil Fletcher as Air Force Chief
- John Loughney as Gen. Lamont
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. Clarke's funds originated in Texas, and the backers stipulated that the film be shot there, 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, 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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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.
The film was originally released on a double bill with The Amazing Transparent Man, another Ulmer-directed film.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that 60% of five surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating is 4.6/10. Dave Kehr of the Chicago Reader wrote, "Even on this despairing level of fly-by-night filmmaking, Ulmer's treatment remains resolutely personal, and the film, though visually slack, emerges as something terse, resourceful, and expressively icy." J. Hoberman of The Village Voice wrote that it "suggests an impoverished remake of the 1924 Soviet constructivist space opera Aelita".
- Skotak, Robert (2009). "A Grave New World: Cast and Crew on the Making of Beyond the Time Barrier". In Herzogenrath, Bernd. The Films of Edgar G. Ulmer. Scarecrow Press. pp. 205–243. ISBN 9780810867369.
- Isenberg, Noah (2013-11-22). "Other Worlds: Edgar G. Ulmer's Underground Films of the 1950s by Noah Isenberg". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
- Weaver, Tom, Brunas, John & Michael Interviews with B Science Fiction Movie Makers McFarland, 2006, p. 89
- Freeman, Paul. Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields: Northwestern Fort Worth area, 2011.
- TCM notes.
- p.174 Lisanti, Tom Drive-In Dream Girls McFarland
- p.333 Weaver, Tom Science Fiction and Fantasy Flashbacks 2004 McFarland
- Lisanti, Tom Science Fiction Confidential McFarland, p.300
- p.89 Weaver, Tom, Brunas, John & Michael Interviews with B Science Fiction Movie Makers 2006 McFarland
- "Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
- Kehr, Dave. "Beyond the Time Barrier". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
- Hoberman, J. (1998-11-17). "Low and Behold". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2015-05-09.
- Beyond the Time Barrier at the Internet Movie Database
- Beyond the Time Barrier at the TCM Movie Database
- Beyond the Time Barrier analysis at "The Films of Edgar G. Ulmer" by Mike Grost
- Beyond the Time Barrier analysis at "The Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review," by Richard Scheib