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The Time Machine (1960) - Illustrated Reference

Updated on December 27, 2016
H.G. Wells
H.G. Wells

The Time Machine was directed by George Pal and premiered on 17th August 1960. Starring Rod Taylor, Alan Young, Yvette Mimieux, Sebastian Cabot, Tom Helmore and Whit Bissell. Screenplay by David Duncan based on the novel by H.G. Wells. Music by Russell Garcia. 103mins.

London 1900. George Wells arrives late for dinner and explains to his waiting friends that he had built a time machine and travelled to the future, the year 802,701 to be exact and there he encountered the peaceful race of the Eloi and their ghastly masters, the Morlocks.

George falls for the charms of one of the Eloi, the beautiful Weena. He was horrified to discover that the Morlocks were cannibals, feeding on the Eloi. When his friends leave after dismissing his story as preposterous, George decides to go back to 802,701 and help the Eloi build a better future without the Morlocks.

Herbert George Wells (1866-1946) was born in Kent, England, and is famous for his works of science fiction. He wrote an astonishing variety of sci-fi tales all hugely influential –

The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898), When the Sleeper Wakes (1899), The First Men in the Moon (1901), The Food of the Gods (1904), In the Days of the Comet (1906), The War in the Air (1908) and The Shape of Things to Come (1933).

The Time Machine was also a social commentary, in the future the elite upper class became too comfortable and lazy and eventually evolved into the mindless beautiful Eloi, while the downtrodden working class after generations of hard labour, poor living conditions and malnutrition went underground becoming the Morlocks.

Rod Taylor (1930-) / George Wells

Born in Sydney, Australia, Rod Taylor’s films include – Giant (1956), Raintree County (1957), Seven Seas to Calais (1962), Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963), The VIPs (1963), The Liquidator (1965), The Glass Bottom Boat (1966), Hotel (1967), Dark of the Sun (1968), The Train Robbers (1973) and Inglourious Basterds (2009)

Alan Young (1919-) / David Filby / George Filby

Born in North Shields, England, Alan Young’s films include – Androcles and the Lion (1952), Tom Thunb (1958), The Cat from Outer Space (1978) and Beverly Hills Cop III (1994). Also starred on TV in Mister Ed (1961-1966).

Yvette Mimieux (1942-) / Weena

Born in Hollywood, California, Yvette Mimieux’s films include – The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1962), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), Diamond Head (1963), Dark of the Sun (1968) and The Black Hole (1979).

Sebastian Cabot (1918-1977) / Dr. Philip Hillyer

Born in London, England, Sebastian Cabot’s films include – Ivanhoe (1952), Kismet (1955), Omar Khayyam (1957), The Family Jewels (1965) and Disney's The Jungle Book (1967 voice of Bagheera). TV series – Family Affair (1966-1971).

Tom Helmore (1904-1995) / Anthony Bridewell

Born in London, England, Tom Helmore’s films include – Secret Agent (1936), The Tender Trap (1955), Vertigo (1958) and Advise & Consent (1962)

Whit Bissell (1909-1996) / Walter Kemp

Born in New York City, veteran character actor Whit Bissell has hundreds of film and TV roles to his credit, films include – Brute Force (1947), Lost Continent (1951), Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957), The Magnificent Seven (1960), Seven Days in May (1964), Airport (1970) and Soylent Green (1973).

George: David, I've got to tell it now. While I still remember it!
Filby: Relax, try to relax. You've all the time in the world.
George: You're right David, that's exactly what I have. All the time in the world.

George Pal (1908-1980) was born in Hungary, he moved to Berlin and worked in puppet animation for UFA studios, in 1940 he emigrated to the USA where he started working for Paramount Studios. He produced the Puppetoon series of stop-motion animated puppet films in the 1940’s which were quite popular.

In 1950 Pal produced his first science fiction movie - Destination Moon, which was successful and received good reviews.

He followed Destination Moon with When Worlds Collide (1951), War of the Worlds (1953), Houdini (1953), The Naked Jungle (1954), Conquest of Space (1955), tom thumb (1958 and directed), The Time Machine (1960 directed), Atlantis the Lost Continent (1961 directed), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), The 7 Faces of Dr, Lao (1964 directed), The Power (1968) and Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975).

The Time Traveler first travels to 1917 and finds out from Filby’s son that England has been at war with Germany since 1914, he than stops at 1940 and finds that England is still at war but realises this is a new war.

His next stop is 1966 and to his horror London is under attack again this time in a nuclear war. He jumps into his Time Machine and disappears into the far future he travels almost a million years forward to the year 802,701.

Yvette Mimieux turned 18 during filming, inexperienced at the beginning her acting improved day by day and near the end of filming they went back and reshot some of her first scenes.

Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux would work together again in Dark of the Sun aka The Mercenaries (1968).

On designing the Time Machine the idea was for a turn of the century barber’s chair combined with a sled, they added a large radar-like dish at the back to indicate movement.

Various effects were used to give the illusion of time passing including flickering lights, speeded up film, animation, stop motion and time-lapse photography.

The full size model of the Time Machine was sold at an MGM auction in the early 70’s and a few years later it was found at a thrift store in California and bought by film historian Bob Burns for $1000, he restored it to it's former glory.

There was a song originally written for the film by Peggy Lee which was never used titled “The Land of the Leal”.

Russell Garcia composed a fantastic score for the film, he would work again with Pal on Atlantis the Lost Continent (1961).

The movie was successful and George Pal wanted to produce a sequel but the submitted scripts were rejected by MGM.

The Time Machine won an Oscar for Best Special Effects and a Hugo nomination for Best Dramatic Presentation.

(The Eloi take George to a library he picks up a book which crumbles into dust in his hands)
George: What have you done? Thousands of years of building and rebuilding, creating and recreating so you can let it crumble to dust. A million years of sensitive men dying for their dreams... FOR WHAT? So you can swim and dance and play.

The only previous adaptation of H.G. Wells story was a live TV play by the BBC in 1949 but no video exists of this programme.

There was a remake in 2002. The Time Machine was directed by Simon Wells, the great grand-son of H.G. Wells. It starred Guy Pierce as Alexander Hartdegen, Mark Addy his friend Filby, singer Samantha Mumba as Mara and Jeremy Irons as the Uber-Morlock. Alan Young has a cameo. Despite some good visuals the film has too many deviations from the novel and none of the charm of George Pals 1960 classic.

In an interview Pal said that “there was a great sequence (in the novel), it just didn't fit into our plot - to go further into the future when the crabs took over. I can just see Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux go in there where the crabs are and the ocean is flat and doesn't move anymore. I think we could have developed a very interesting story of the loneliness of these two people."

The novel ended with the unnamed hero travelling another 30 million years into the future and seeing a barren dying Earth with the sun just a dim light on the horizon, he walks on a beach where giant crabs crawl around blood red sand. There is no sign of human life. He returns back to 1900 and tells his friends of his time travelling adventures, they don’t believe him. The time traveller journeys forward to 802,701 never to return.

The Critics Wrote –

"H.G. Wells fantasy about a time wanderer with a conscience, translated to the screen with taste, flair and inventiveness. Metro release is a film for all ages, one that can be appreciated at various intellectual strata while being enjoyed on the common ground of pure escapist fantasy." (Variety)

"(the Eloi) are beautiful but thoroughly brainwashed boobs, a lot of sheeplike, emotionless zombies who toil not, neither do they sin. They just sit around eating, sleeping and growing fat to be preyed upon by a tribe of enterprising hairy monsters called Morlocks that live in a huge underground machine shop. Unquestionably, the story is a little rosier than that of Mr. Wells, and certainly George Pal's production and direction are rosier. Color, the boon of science fiction, lends exciting hues to everything from Victorian wine glasses to the Mórlocks' green flashing eyes. There is a familiar polish and burnish about this film." (Bosley Crowther, New York Times)

"Entertaining George Pal sci-fi, loosely derived from the H.G. Wells novel and set at about the time the book was written--1895. The plush Victorian furnishings in the home of the time-travelling scientist (Rod Taylor) are contrasted with the catacombs of the cannibalistic future, where Yvette Mimieux is a dainty morsel on the menu. The machine itself is a beauty, with a red velvet seat and gadgets made of ivory and rock crystal, and the time-travel effects help to make this film one of the best of its kind. However, it deteriorates into comic-strip grotesqueries when the fat, ogreish future race of Morlocks torments the effete, platinum-blond, vacant-eyed race of Eloi." (Pauline Kael)

“The Time Machine deserves a place on the very short list of good science fiction films, partly because its hokum is entrancing, its special effects expertly rigged and its monsters sufficiently monstrous.” (Time)


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    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Breen, I know, billions of stars and the universe might be brimming with life but we're so far from each other. Stephen Hawking said it might be safer if we didn't try to contact alien races.

      Flora, thank you I was wondering why people were following me I even sent Bruce an email telling him about the sudden splurge of followers not realising he was behind it all, hahaha!#

      Thanks Bruce, appreciate it amigo.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Congrats on 100 Steve...I am very happy for you....because you are the man.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Congratulations on passing 100 followers Steve!

    • profile image

      Breen Bergstrome 6 years ago

      Steve, Flora's also a bit of a trekkie..knows most of the original series episodes word for word.

      Wish we had access to more of these movies listed here. Some of the greatest minds around who can imagine a world beyond worlds. Saw a video on a space hubble telescope imaging of 10 minutes into a spot in the sky previously thought empty of matter...well....billions more stars, galaxies and potential life.

      Awesome, thrilling and humbling.

      Five more to 100...

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Yep Nicholas Meyer directed two of the best Star Trek movies, II and VI and he wrote the very popular Trek IV The Voyage Home, which included time travel and humbpack whales. "Captain, there be whales here!" Hey Bruce I'm a bit of a trekkie and I've done hubs on all the Trek films so I should know. ;)

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      I never thought the Prime Directive was an issue unless it was something Kirk did not really want to do.....then he would pull out the Prime Glad you also enjoy Time After Time...the director of that also directed two Star Trek movies...but I am sure you already knew that information.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks for posting gail641, Whit Bissell appeared regularly on Irwin Allen's Time Tunnel in the 60's.

    • gail641 profile image

      Gail Louise Stevenson 6 years ago from Mason City

      I remember when the incredible shrinking man struggled with the black spider in the basement. That was scary, seeing a man shrinking away. I remember Sabastian Cabot in Family Affair, and Allan Young in Mr. Ed. That was along time ago. I remember "The Time Machine." I remember the time tunnel, too.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      I was watching a young William Campbell in an old war film at the weekend, Battle Cry (1955). Sad he died, the Squire of Gothos was a memorable episode. His character was the inspiration for Q in Star Trek The Next Generation.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Gremlins! That's the word I couldn't remember.

      Whenever I think of The Trouble with Tribbles I think of William Campbell who played the Klingon captain-he was also the Squire of Gothos -who died last year.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Hi Flora, Rod Taylor's great. I'd recommend Dark of the Sun to anyone who hasn't seen it. He plays a tough mercenary in Africa, really good action film.

      Whit Bissell was in the classic Star Trek episode The Trouble With Tribbles.

      A morlock can be spotted in George Pals 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.

      That last poster is great, but it doesn't feature any morlocks so we have to take some points off for that. :)

      Yep that thing on the plane terrorising William Shatner was supposed to be a gremlin. Airplane malfunctions during WWII were blamed on gremlins living in the clouds. It looked like it was wearing a wooly coat from what I remember, yeah the face looked a bit morlock-like.

      Thanks for posting.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      I saw The Time Machine for Rod Taylor, because he was in The Birds and I wanted to see him in a starring role in another film. I remember mentioning at one time in a film fan club that I was much more familiar with Rod Taylor than Robert Taylor because of Hitchcock and whenever I saw an R. Taylor listed I thought of Rod. I.e. I got the two mixed up. Oops! Was a Robert fan really mad. Through TCM I have become much more familiar with Robert Taylor and no longer mix them up.

      Another Hitchcock actor in Helmore....not one of my favourite Hitchcock actors. He is very good at what he does, but I' grit my teeth when I see him in Vertigo.

      You are quite right about The Incredible Shrinking Man. There is NO WAY I would watch it. Not if you paid me.

      I am a fan of Cabot like Mom. I follow a lot of character actor's careers.

      The name Whit Bissell means nothing to me, but I see from the list of films that I've seen a huge number of his films. I checked imdb and he made 300 films and tv appearances!

      I don't think I've seen the leading lady in anything else or if I did I didn't pay attention to her.

      The monster in "Nightmare At Twenty-Thousand Feet" looks much like the monster here in the black and white photographs. Not in the colour photographs, though as extra detail is added. I can't remember the name of the monster in The Twilight Zone. A reference to WWII, I believe.

      My favourite poster - the lat one with bright colours and lots going on.

      My favourite photograph is the second black and white photo. I've always loved B&W photography.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks for travelling back in time and revisiting this old classic Bruce, appreciate it. The story would have made an interesting Star Trek episode, Kirk, Spock and McCoy beam down to Earth of the far future and confront the Eloi and Morlocks, Kirk falls for Weena of course. They teach the Eloi how to fight back against the Morlocks and get back to the Enterprise. Kirk and co were always messing with the Prime Directive. :)

      I'm a big fan of Time After Time too, great film. And David Warner was good as Jack the Ripper.

      Thanks for posting.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Nice trip down memory lane....I remember watching this movie when I was very young.....for years Rod Taylor was the Time Machine guy.....until I became old enough to realize he made more than this movie....another favorite back then was Mr. French....oh the joys of childhood.

      Looking at your photos of the movie...I could help but think about the 1960s Star Trek episodes.

      I just checked my handy dandy movie notebook and see that The Time Machine was only the 63rd biggest hit in the States in 1960....shocked that it did not do better over here.

      I know it was a different story altogether but I could not help but think about Time After Time...with Malcolm McDowell as I was reading this hub...I love Time After Time...but strongly dislike the Guy Pearce Time Machine movie.

      Very well done....lots of great facts....and a pleasure to read and look at the photos.

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Jools, appreciate the comment. Time Machine was a favourite of mine when I was young. I remember a time when it was the big movie of the day and would be shown at 8pm in the evening and everyone would watch it, not any more alas. :)

      My next H.G. Wells hub will probably be First Men in the Moon, another fave from my childhood, with special effects by Ray Harryhausen.

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 6 years ago from North-East UK

      Another great hub Steve. This was one of my favourite movies when I was young but it hardly ever got on TV then! When I met my husband it turned out to be one of his favourite movies as well. Loved the photos you've included and the posters. I think H.G. Wells could give you quite a few more hubs? Voted up, etc, etc

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      Thanks for commenting Breen, it is appreciated. The Incredible Shrinking Man is based on a story by Richard Matheson, the author of I Am Legend. I have written a hub on that too, classic SF. I don't think Flora will watch it, the shrinking hero battles with a tarantula in his cellar at the climax.

      Both The Time Machine and the Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service end with the words "All the time in the world" :)

      Thanks for posting.

    • profile image

      Breen Bergstrome 6 years ago

      Interesting the last poster in Spanish translates "Time in His Hands".

      Excellent reading and great photos.

      Sebastion Cabot an all-time favourite.

      Flora and I watch the Invisible Man off and on. Who wrote the Incredible Shrinking Man? That movie scares me to this day and I saw it many, many years ago.