Movies - The Time Machine (1960) - What Three Books Would You Take?

"The Time Machine" original poster artwork.

A proud possession, an original 1960 day bill poster of The Time Machine. ALL IMAGES USED FOR REVIEW PURPOSES.
A proud possession, an original 1960 day bill poster of The Time Machine. ALL IMAGES USED FOR REVIEW PURPOSES.

R.I.P. ROD TAYLOR 1930-2015

YOU ARE FOREVER NOW TRAVELLING THROUGH TIME......

The Time Machine (1960) - What Three Books?

At the end of the George Pal 1960 movie, H.G.WELLS’ THE TIME MACHINE, Filby best friend of George. the Time Traveller who has just vanished into the future, says to the housekeeper, Mrs Watchett, that it’s not like George to go and not take something with him. Did he take something with him, he asks of the house keeper?

At first she indicates, nothing different, then looking at a book shelf, says, except three books.

Filby asks of her, what three books?

She replies, she doesn’t know..

Filby says, it doesn’t matter but then asks a question, that has made a big impression on me all through my life, “what three books would you take?”!

The film ends with a lyrical finish, as all us kids wished we had gone on that marvelous time machine into the future.

But…

Indeed, what three books would we have taken?

While you ponder that, here's some info on Rod Taylor.


Rod Taylor with Cinema Owners

Actor Rod Taylor "George", the Time Traveller from "The Time Machine" with the Burrill Lake Open Air Theatre owners, Mr and Mrs Riley.
Actor Rod Taylor "George", the Time Traveller from "The Time Machine" with the Burrill Lake Open Air Theatre owners, Mr and Mrs Riley.

Rod Taylor, the Aussie Actor.

Rod Taylor, was raised in Lidcombe, New South Wales, Australia, not far from where I grew up at Revesby, south of Bankstown with Lidcombe just to the north of Bankstown which is south of Sydney Olympic Park... and if you can follow that, you can follow a pirate map to treasure or even construct a time machine....!

Below is a a fan site for Rod Taylor featuring biography, film info photos and much much more.


Lidcombe, New South Wales, Australia

A Side Story "Long John Silver"

I now even have a restored version of the CinemaScope version of "Long John Silver" (1954) where Rod plays the mad blind hermit, Israel Hands.

Much of this film was shot locally to where I live at Stanwell Tops, just south of Sydney. Beach scenes in the Illawarra, and an interesting aside is the fact that the tall, mean guy with almost lizard like features used to be my offsider in the printing industry when I was an apprentice back in the late 1960s! Vladislaus Leonidis was his name and he told me about the "Long John Silver" film. I didn't believe him at first but he convinced me.

After finally seeing the film, I'm glad I did. He was pretty menacing in the movie!!

It's fun to watch the movie, as Rod as the hermit chases the Jim Hawkins character (Kit Taylor) through bush that reminds me an awful lot of the nearby Royal National Park where i believe it was filmed!


The Mean Looking Pirate Guy

Vladislaus Leonidis or "Leon" is the mean, pasty face guy in the back, and to think he use to be my printing offsider! He's now on that pirate ship in the sky.
Vladislaus Leonidis or "Leon" is the mean, pasty face guy in the back, and to think he use to be my printing offsider! He's now on that pirate ship in the sky.

Rod as the Blind Hermit

Is Rod looking into the future? He almost seems a fore runner of the Morlocks! Either that or he's in need of a serious haircut, shave and bath!
Is Rod looking into the future? He almost seems a fore runner of the Morlocks! Either that or he's in need of a serious haircut, shave and bath!

Back to the Future!

However now we know all that, let's get back to the point at hand!!

The Challenge of What Three Books would we take to a future civilisation that knows nothing but play and eat... and be eaten...!

The Gathering of Witnesses

The gathering of friends for dinner and witnessing the model to see if it will disappear when he throws the tiny switch for it's journey.
The gathering of friends for dinner and witnessing the model to see if it will disappear when he throws the tiny switch for it's journey.
"This is a time machine."
"This is a time machine."
"For my intention, I intend on taking a journey into the future."
"For my intention, I intend on taking a journey into the future."

The Three Books Idea

In the original short story, a mere 94 pages in the 1965 Pan paperback edition that I bought back then as a mid teenager, and still have, there is no mention of the books, but he did take a small camera and a knapsack… so what was in the knapsack?

Food? Film? Books? H. G. doesn’t really say.

So I guess this gave rise to Film Producer, George Pal and the scriptwriter, David Duncan an intriguing opportunity to bring in ideas of what was in the knapsack.

However, we don’t know if there was a knapsack in the film as we never saw the departure of the Time Traveller.

But he must’ve had one to carry the books in! He didn’t make his lunch; off too quick!


The Time Machine (1960) Trailer

Book 1

We could all guess, that one book would be, the Bible. But here was a man who was not happy in his time, who hated wars and thought future man would be ideal and surpass his violent self. Possibly like Welles, himself.

But is this wrong? To some the Bible is full of murder, wars, savagery, retribution and redemption. To others it is full of something else, running in other directions.

So would the Time Traveller take a book that has the first murder? Would the Elio ask where did Cain’s wife came from?

So perhaps our Time Traveller may not take the Bible. Intriguing thought.

But for argument’s sake, let’s say it is book one.

So what would be the other two?

The Time Traveller On His Journey

Rod Taylor starting to look a bit nervous as he starts his legendary journey. Somehow all us kids went with him too. We are still there with him!
Rod Taylor starting to look a bit nervous as he starts his legendary journey. Somehow all us kids went with him too. We are still there with him!
"This is what women will wear in the future? This was intriguing"
"This is what women will wear in the future? This was intriguing"
"Suddenly I was trapped in a mountain! As the centuries passed, I waited for the mountain to wear down."
"Suddenly I was trapped in a mountain! As the centuries passed, I waited for the mountain to wear down."
Legendary film producer George Pal as excited as the rest of us kids.
Legendary film producer George Pal as excited as the rest of us kids.

Book 2

Perhaps Book 2 would be… hmmm…. what about a Dictionary?

Even from the end of the 19th century it would have a lot of knowledgeable, modern enough, words in it ( but what’s to stop him shopping around on his way???… but let’s not get too carried away… that’d be like asking where does outer space end!!!!)

Yes, a dictionary could be a safe bet.


Into the Fantastic Future

Rod really pushing it now, just as us kids did and still do (so what if we're grown up!!)
Rod really pushing it now, just as us kids did and still do (so what if we're grown up!!)

Book 3

Now let’s think about this…. maybe a medical book… 19th Century medical cures…. maybe not.

What about a farming book? It has agricultural methods; when and what to plant; all about the various seeds… hah, now exactly where would they get the seeds from?

Would they apply to future plant species? Perhaps.


The Sphinx of the Morlocks

A quick rain shower as the Time Machine stops too quick, tipping over.
A quick rain shower as the Time Machine stops too quick, tipping over.
What kid could forget this foreboding image?
What kid could forget this foreboding image?
The Morlocks are having us for dinner! How nice of them.
The Morlocks are having us for dinner! How nice of them.

Items of Choice

Pity iPads weren’t around or Tablets… he could take ALL the books….!!

But let’s stick to 19th Century items, though it’s interesting in the book he takes a small camera, which is not in the film.

But yes, most likely a knapsack.

So obviously he intended coming back, but in the book never did. Nor really in the film.


In the Final Moments

"Promise me, George, you won't leave the house," Filby (actor Alan Young) asks of George. "
"Promise me, George, you won't leave the house," Filby (actor Alan Young) asks of George. "

My Three Books

I've chosen my three books, what about you?
I've chosen my three books, what about you?

Well, What Three Books Would You Take?

So in the end, I have suggested what 3 books our Time Traveller friend may have taken, but I ask you, the reader…

What three books would you take?

Send me your choices via the comments!!!!


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9 comments

kay 23 months ago

human biology, horticulture and botanic, architecture


alan2rich profile image

alan2rich 23 months ago from Australia Author

For a moment there, I thought you were putting up "tags". Possibility. However the "traveller", at least in the film, displayed a good knowledge already of horticulture and botanic when you come to think about it (even though I suggested a similar book, but hey, he could always come back!!). He seemed to be cluey enough to understand the principles of architecture ( he did build the time machine!). Human biology, certainly a medical book of some sort.


Robert Sacchi profile image

Robert Sacchi 18 months ago

I've always wondered about the question of the books. Thank you for writing about it. A medical book makes sense. The Bible makes sense for a number of reasons. H.G. Wells the writer probably wouldn't have taken it but H. George Wells in the movie might have. Though there is no indication either way in George's case. A dictionary makes sense because it would be good for him to remind himself of things to teach the Eloi. A book on agriculture doesn't seem to make much sense since the land seems to produce well enough on its own. Not that it matters but the books were apparently together, indicating they were probably on the same subject. As far as The Time Machine novel goes the Time Traveler went forward in time to explore, not to start a new world.


alan2rich profile image

alan2rich 18 months ago from Australia Author

Thanks for your comment, Robert. One also wonders if the books in the museum (where he crumbled them) could have been salvaged... which I'm sure they would have been. Yes, Wells's original book ending was certainly different to the film but to make a film a hit Hollywood flick, they needed an upbeat ending, and the Wells one was considerable downbeat. Though I wouldn't change a thing in the movie for a minute!


Robert Sacchi profile image

Robert Sacchi 18 months ago

Yes, book and movie were different but both great. In the book the Time Traveler, like the protagonist in War of the Worlds, is an excellent observer but powerless to change events. In both books the tempo builds to a climax then trails off. I always wondered if that writing style was unique to H.G. Wells or a popular writing style in the 1890s?


alan2rich profile image

alan2rich 18 months ago from Australia Author

I would say it was Well's own unique style. Though in the special edition of the movie, in the doco, there's a great sequence of the Time Traveller coming back to save his friend, Filby, from dying in WW1, something I always thought about since he related the story in the movie, but Filby wasn't given a chance to react (I mean, he hears he dies!!)... in this fun sequence (where they have both obviously aged) there is great interplay between Rod Taylor and Alan Young over the WW1 death situation. Most amusing.

Another great movie on Time Travel is the very underrated TIME AFTER TIME which has H.G.Wells (the great Malcolm McDowell) travel through time chasing Jack the Ripper (the great David Warner) into San Francisco of the late 1970s, but that's another story!


Robert Sacchi profile image

Robert Sacchi 18 months ago

Thank you. I have seen TIME AFTER TIME. It is also a good movie.


Currahee 7 months ago

One of my favorite movies and books. My impression had always been that it didn't matter much what he brought as he had already made the realization that he "had all the time in the world". In my mind, he may have started the civilization with 3 books, or a camera, but he was able to go to any period in time and take things with him into the future that would help him build a better society. He never came back because his future civilization never required anything else from his original time period.


alan2rich profile image

alan2rich 7 months ago from Australia Author

Yes, you're perfectly right!

As a matter of fact, in the doco on the film on the DVD, that very idea is used in a new scene between Rod and Alan.... lot's of fun....

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