The Somewhere in Time -The Male Phenomena

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It is a well publicized fact that men don't usually take to romantic movies. Having missed the movies three week run in theaters of 1980's release of Somewhere In Time, my first exposure was on video in my living room packed only with macho oozing guys. Not one of us walked out of the room that day not having become seduced by the story of a timecrossed couple. One of my friends would openly admit watching it again and again. Two others became closeted fans. The rest would only admit having seen it again because their girlfriends wanted too. One's girlfriend revealed his little dirty secret. He was the one who kept pressing to rent the movie in the first place.

The male audience

The previews foretold the future of the film. It is said that during the first not one bucket of popcorn was sold while the movie was playing. Not to a man or a a woman. In any other romantic movie guys would have split over their previous bought popcorn to catch a break by buying another. Demographic researched showed the movie had equal appeal to both sexes. Interestingly enough the start up of a fan club again attracted a 50-50 following. The initial grassroots efforts began with a guy, Bill Shepard.. The audience appreciation society for the movie is called Insite.

The why

Back in the eighties there was conducive macho ingredients to it's attraction. I will start with the pinnacle of macho attraction. Jane Seymour was Roger Moore's Bond Girl in Live and Let Die. The second tier, Christopher Reeve just broke through as the star of the what is considered the quintessential Superman movie. Let's face it, you can't get more macho that Superman. The guy revealed the color of Lois' underwear beneath her dress on screen without batting an eyelash.

The irony

Somewhere In Time (SIT) was a box office flop. With a budget of $5.1 million it made only $9.7 in domestic release. While it was with release to cable that it began and audience, it was video that found it's following and growth into a cult romantic fantasy classic. Like me, more and more men are admitting to owning a copy in either video or DVD in their collection. Such is the popularity the Richard Matheson book upon which it is based, Bid Time Returns, went back into print in 1998 which is eighteen years later retitled to match the movie.

Looking deeper

Richard Matheson is most known for his sci-fi and horror genre screenplays and books. Until the age of the computer these were male dominated venues. Matheson knows how to write to a male audience. He not only wrote the book, he penned the screenplay. Add to this prior Jeannot Szwarc was the director of Jaws 2, as well as duel appeal work such as TV's “Marcus Welby” starring Robert Young and James Brolin, “It Takes A Thief” starring Robert Wagner and a western called “Alias Smith and Jones”. All with cross - sectional appeal to men and women. My Mom who normally would not sit down through most TV programs never missed an episode of any of those programs. Growing up in France, if you believe in the stereotype, he may have learned how to hit both the male and female romantic hot buttons. With both Matheson and Szwarc working together, it should have been no surprise they contributed to producing a work that erased the line between the male and female demographics.

A mixture of chemistry

The movie rates as romantic fantasy, It's roots are mired in both reality and science fiction. The story 's premise was founded in Richard Matheson's own obsession with the late Maude Adams. A very successful and popular actress who passed away in 1953. Having seen her photographic portrait on a family trip he developed an attraction much like that of his SIT character of Richard Collier. The character of Elise Mckenna played by Jane Seymour was patterned after Adams. She too had suddenly become a recluse without explanation. It is said that after exhaustive studies SIT was Richard Matheson's self serving answer. The books time travel principles are base in Einsteins theories that time being past, present and future is a continuous loop. In the story the pocket watch is the piece of destiny that connections all as well as making all events replay to infinity. Another basic appeal is I don't know of a person who hasn't had an attraction to the one person they realistically cannot have. That goes for male and female. It is a natural experience of love and life. Adding to the chemistry is Jeannot Szwarc's insistence in stripping the sci-fi down to more identifiable emotions and desires. It is truly a science fiction movie produced to mirror the realistic without using one actual special effect. The elements which power the movie are real to both men and women.

Furthering the appeal

The cast and the cast and the director all had a passion for this movie. Each has the common goal of making this movie a tent pole in their career. Unfortunately, at first it wasn't the tentpole they imagined. Out of the gate it was rated a critical failure. The low box office take would justify that mode of thinking. This despite everyone major connected to the production has taken less to be involved based on perceived potential. Yes, the movie has it flaws but it emotional hot buttons are timeless. The actors each had a strong identification with their characters. The John Barry music score was the icing on the timelessness appeal. Having watch the movie more than a few times I understand the original preview candy counter disappointment. When I watch this movie with the right someone, it's not popcorn I'll be grabbing. Though there might be a need to hit the pause button for a not too brief intermission. Better yet to let it run and have an excuse to do it all over again.

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Comments 1 comment

Donnatalks@aol.com 7 years ago

Beautiful...soleful and so much more

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