The Time Machine (1960 film)

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The Time Machine
Poster for the 1960 film The Time Machine.jpg
Directed by George Pal
Produced by George Pal
Screenplay by David Duncan
Based on The Time Machine
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 date
  • August 17, 1960 (1960-08-17)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $829,000[1] or $872,000[2]
Box office $2,610,000[1]

The Time Machine (also known promotionally as H. G. Wells' The Time Machine) is a 1960 American space and time science fiction film in Metrocolor from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 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]


On January 5, 1900, four friends arrive for a dinner at the London home of their inventor friend George, but he is not there. Suddenly, he arrives, bedraggled and exhausted, and begins to describe the strange experiences he has had since the group last met.

At their earlier dinner on New Year's Eve, 1899, George described time as "the fourth dimension" to David Filby, Dr. Philip Hillyer, Anthony Bridewell, and Walter Kemp. He shows them a small model 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 to the year 1917. He meets Filby's son, James, who tells him of Filby's death in a 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 neighborhood 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. Moments later, a nuclear explosion causes a volcanic eruption around him. George narrowly makes it back to his machine and continues his journey forward as the lava rapidly cools and hardens, trapping him inside. He travels much farther into the future until the rock eventually erodes away, revealing a lush, green, unspoiled landscape.

George stops in the year 802,701 near the base of a towering sphinx. He goes exploring and finds a group of delicate young men and women with 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; she later seeks him out and gives him a flower. She says her name is Weena and tells George her people are called the Eloi. The Eloi do not operate machines, work, or read, and know little of mankind's history.

That night, George discovers that his machine has been taken into the sphinx. Weena follows, telling 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. Weena has never seen fire before and nearly burns herself trying to touch it.

The next day, Weena shows George domed, well-like structures that dot the landscape: air shafts that double as access to the Morlock underworld. She takes him to an ancient museum where "talking rings" tell of a 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 returned to the surface. George realizes this was the beginning of speciation for the Morlocks and the Eloi. He starts to climb down a shaft, but stops when sirens blare from atop the sphinx. He finds Weena gone and crowds of Eloi in a trance-like state, entering open doors at its base. The sirens stop and the doors close.

George enters the Morlocks' subterranean caverns and is horrified to see that the Eloi are the free range livestock for the creatures. Finding Weena, he begins fighting the Morlocks. His efforts inspire others to defend themselves. George sets a fire and urges the Eloi to merge to the surface, where he directs them to gather dry tree branches and drop them down the shafts. After enough branches are thrown down under to increase the fire, the subterranean cavern collapses.

The next morning, George finds the sphinx in charred ruins, and its doors open. His time machine is inside. He enters, the doors close, and George is attacked in the dark by Morlocks. George activates his time machine, traveling back to 1900, coming to rest on the lawn outside his home, where the story had begun, and now ends.

As the bedraggled George recounts his story, his friends are again skeptical. He produces Weena's flower and Filby, an amateur botanist, says that he cannot match it with any species known in the 19th century. George bids his guests a good evening. Filby steps out but returns to find George and his time machine now gone. There are drag marks which, indicating that George wanted the time machine to be positioned outside the sphinx when he returned to the future. The housekeeper notes that nothing was missing except three books that she could not identify. When the housekeeper wonders if George will ever return, Filby observes that he could not say but that "he (George) has all the time in the world".



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. The name "H. George Wells" can be seen on a brass plaque on the time machine.[3]

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.[4]

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", though the Time Traveler is only, otherwise, referred to as "George" in the film.[3]

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]

With a budget of under $1MM, the film could not be shot in London, where the plot sets the story. Thus, the live-action scenes were filmed from May 25 to June 30, 1959, in Culver City, California, with the backgrounds often filled in by virtue of mat paintings & models.[citation needed]

Home media releases[edit]

Released multiple times on Beta and VHS video cassette, Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED), and both letterboxed and open matte LaserDisc, the film was released on DVD in October 2000 and on Blu-ray Disc in July 2014 from Warner Home Video.


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

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.[5]

Awards and honors[edit]

Comic book adaption[edit]

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]


  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (8 June 1970). "Patience Key to Pal Success". Los Angeles Times. p. e19. 
  3. ^ a b Hughes, Howard (2014). Outer Limits: The Filmgoers’ Guide to the Great Science-Fiction Films. I.B. Tauris. p. 69. 
  4. ^ Vagg, Stephen (2010). Rod Taylor: An Aussie in Hollywood. Bear Manor Media. p. 64. 
  5. ^ French box office for 1961 at Box Office Story
  6. ^ "Dell Four Color #1085". Grand Comics Database. 
  7. ^ Dell Four Color #1085 at the Comic Book DB


  • Hickman, Gail Morgan. The Films of George Pal. South Brunswick, New Jersey: A. S. Barnes and Company, Inc., 1977. ISBN 978-0-49801-960-9.
  • 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