The Time Machine (1960 film)

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The Time Machine
Brown,r time macine60.jpg
Theatrical release lobby title card
by Reynold Brown
Directed by George Pal
Produced by George Pal
Screenplay by David Duncan
Based on The Time Machine
1895 novel 
by H. G. Wells
Starring Rod Taylor
Alan Young
Yvette Mimieux
Sebastian Cabot
Whit Bissell
Narrated by Rod Taylor
Music by Russell Garcia
Cinematography Paul Vogel
Edited by George Tomasini
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • August 17, 1960 (1960-08-17)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $829,000[1]
Box office $2,610,000[1]

The Time Machine (also known promotionally as H. G. Wells' The Time Machine) is a 1960 British-American time travel science fiction film in Metrocolor from MGM, produced and directed by George Pal, that stars Rod Taylor, Yvette Mimieux, and Alan Young. The film was based on the 1895 novella of the same name by H. G. Wells that was hugely influential on the development of science fiction.

An inventor in Victorian England constructs a machine that enables him to travel into the distant future; once there, he discovers that mankind's descendants have divided into two species, the passive, childlike, and vegetarian Eloi and the underground-dwelling Morlocks, who feed on the Eloi.

George Pal, who had earlier made a film version of Wells' The War of the Worlds (1953), 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 documentary The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal.

The Time Machine received an Oscar for its time-lapse photographic effects, which show the world changing rapidly as the time traveler journeys into the future.[citation needed]

Plot[edit]

On January 5, 1900 in London, four friends arrive for a dinner at the house of their friend H. George Wells (Rod Taylor), an inventor. Bedraggled and exhausted, George arrives and begins to describe the strange experiences he has had since the group last met.

At their earlier dinner, on December 31, 1899, George describes time as "the fourth dimension" to David Filby (Alan Young), Dr. Philip Hillyer (Sebastian Cabot), Anthony Bridewell (Tom Helmore), and Walter Kemp (Whit Bissell). He shows them a small model of his time machine and asks a guest to press a tiny lever. The device disappears, validating his claim, but his friends remain unconvinced; their reactions vary from curiosity to frank dismissal.

George bids his guests a good evening, then heads downstairs where his full-size time machine awaits. He presses a lever and moves forward through time 17 years into the future. He meets Filby's son, James, who tells him of Filby's death in the Great War. Saddened, he resumes his journey, stopping in 1940 during The Blitz, finding himself in the midst of "a new war"; George resumes his journey and stops in 1966, finding his neighbourhood now part of a futuristic metropolis. People are hurrying into a nearby fallout shelter amid the blare of air raid sirens. An elderly James Filby urges George to immediately take cover, but he does not understand the danger. A nuclear explosion causes a sudden volcanic eruption around him. George continues his journey forward as the lava rapidly cools and hardens, trapping him inside. He travels far into the future until the topography changes. Hundreds of thousands of years later, the rock erodes away to reveal that London is now gone, and has been replaced by a lush, green and unspoilt landscape.

George stops in AD 802,701 near the base of a towering sphinx. He goes exploring and finds a group of delicate young men and women wearing simple clothing gathered at a stream. One woman, carried off by the current, screams for help but none of her companions show any concern. George rescues her and is surprised when, revived, she walks away without a word; later, she seeks him out, giving him a flower. She says her name is Weena (Yvette Mimieux) and tells George her people are called the Eloi. He soon learns the Eloi do not operate machines, work, read, and know virtually nothing of history; they do not even understand fire.

George decides to leave but discovers his machine has been dragged into the sphinx. Weena tells him "Morlocks", who only come out at night, have moved it. A Morlock jumps out from behind bushes and tries to drag her away, but the creature's light-sensitive eyes are blinded by George's fire torch; he easily rescues her.

The next day, Weena shows George domed, well-like structures that dot the landscape; they are air shafts that double as access to the Morlock underworld. She takes him to an ancient museum where "talking rings" tell of a centuries-long nuclear war in the distant past. A reduced population fought for survival in the poisoned landscape; many decided to live underground in permanent settlements, while some decided to return to the surface. George realises this marked the beginning of speciation for the Morlocks and the Eloi. He starts to climb down a shaft but turns back when sirens blare from atop the sphinx. He emerges to find Weena gone and crowds of Eloi in a trance-like state, entering open doors at its base. The sirens stop and the doors close, trapping Weena inside.

George enters the Morlocks' subterranean caverns and is horrified to discover that the Eloi are the free range livestock for the cannibalistic Morlocks. After finding Weena, he begins fighting the creatures. His efforts inspire other Eloi, who begin to defend themselves. George sets a fire and urges the Eloi to clamber out of the caverns to the surface, where he directs them to gather dry tree branches and drop them down the shafts. Smoke billows out of the shafts, and the subterranean cavern later collapses.

The next morning, George finds the sphinx in charred ruins and its doors open. His time machine sits just inside, a trap set by the Morlocks. He enters, the doors close, and he is attacked in the dark. George sends his time machine hurtling into the past, returning to 1900. It comes to rest on the lawn outside his house, where his story ends.

George's friends are again skeptical. He produces Weena's flower and Filby, an amateur botanist, says the species is completely unknown in the 19th century. George bids his guests a good evening. Filby steps out but returns to find George and his machine gone. He notices drag marks where it would be positioned outside the sphinx after returning to the Eloi. Filby and Wells' housekeeper notice three books are missing. Filby asks her, "Which three would you have taken"? She wonders if George will ever return. He observes that George has "all the time in the world".

Cast[edit]

Cast notes
  • Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux also co-starred in 1968's Dark of the Sun.[2]
  • Mimieux is the only surviving primary cast member.

Home media releases[edit]

Released multiple times on Betamax and VHS video cassette, Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED), and both letterbox and pan & scan LaserDisc, the film was released on DVD in October 2000 and on Blu-ray Disc in July 2014.

Soundtrack[edit]

An original score CD was released in 1987. The track listing is as follows:

CD cover
  1. Main Title / Credits
  2. London 1900 (Filby's Theme)
  3. Time Machine Model
  4. The Time Machine
  5. Quick Trip Into The Future
  6. All The Time In The World
  7. Beautiful Forest / The Great Hall
  8. Fear
  9. Weena (Love Theme)
  10. Rescue
  11. Reminiscing
  12. Morlocks
  13. End Title (Reprise)
  14. Fight With The Morlocks
  15. Time Traveler
  16. Escape
  17. Prayer / Off Again
  18. Trapped In The Future
  19. Love And Time Return
  20. End Title
  21. Atlantis, The Lost Continent (Overture) - Main Title / Credits / Love Theme / Night Scene / Submarine / End Title

Production[edit]

George Pal was already known for his pioneering work with stop-motion animation, having been nominated almost yearly for an Oscar during the 1940s. Unable to sell Hollywood on the concept of the film, he found MGM's British studio (where he had filmed Tom Thumb) open to his proposal.[citation needed]

The name of the film's main character—alluded to in dialogue only as "George"—connects him both with George Pal and with the story's original science fiction writer H. G. (George) Wells.[citation needed]

Pal originally considered casting a middle-aged British actor like David Niven or James Mason as George. 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.[3]

MGM art director Bill Ferrari designed the time machine. Recognized today as a classic film property, Ferrari's machine suggested a sled made up of a large clockwork rotating disk. The disk rotated at various speeds to indicate movement through time, evoking both a spinning clock and a solar disk.[citation needed] In a meta-concept touch, a brass plate on the time machine's instrument display panel identified its inventor as "H. George Wells".[citation needed]

The charm of a fantastic technology (time travel), wrapped in the archaic guise of brass, rivets, Art nouveau arabesques, and crystal mechanisms, was one of influences on the later emergence of the steampunk genre.[citation needed] The depiction of Eloi in the film was one of the influences on the flower children later in the 1960s.[citation needed]

The live-action scenes were filmed from May 25 to June 30, 1959, in Culver City, California.[citation needed]

Box office[edit]

According to MGM records, the film earned $1,610,000 in the United States and Canada and $1 million elsewhere, turning a profit of $245,000.[1]

The film had admissions of 363,915 in France.[4]

Awards and honors[edit]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

1993 sequel/documentary[edit]

In 1993 a combination sequel-documentary short, Time Machine: The Journey Back, directed by Clyde Lucas, was produced. In its third section, Michael J. Fox talks about his experience with the Delorean sports car time machine from Back to the Future. In the short's final section, written by screenwriter David Duncan, Rod Taylor, Alan Young, and Whit Bissell reprise their roles from the original 1960 film.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Vagg, Stephen, Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood, Bear Manor Media, 2010
  3. ^ Vagg, Stephen (2010). Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood. Bear Manor Media. p. 64. 
  4. ^ French box office for 1961 at Box Office Story
  5. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Warren, Bill. Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Films of the Fifties, 21st Century Edition. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2009 (First Edition 1982). ISBN 0-89950-032-3.

External links[edit]

Streaming audio