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The Time Machine (1960) - Illustrated Reference
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)