The Time Machine
Cast & Crew
Responding to an invitation issued five days earlier, five gentlemen meet at the London residence of their mutual friend, scientist George, who, having arrived late and disheveled, recounts the last five days, beginning with the group's 31 December 1899 meeting: George explains that he has been working for two years to prove the possibility of movement within the fourth dimension, time, by creating a time machine to carry man into the future or past. When George unveils a miniature version of the machine, makes it disappear "into the future" with the switch of a lever and then insists that he, too, will travel into the future, his friends suggest he contribute to the war effort instead of dabbling in tricks. As the others turn to leave, one of the men, David Filby, asks George why he is preoccupied with time. George replies that he is discouraged by human behavior and the proliferation of weapons and asks his friend to return to the house with the others for dinner on 5 January. Returning to his laboratory alone, George seats himself in a full-size version of the time machine, a sleigh powered by a large disc at the rear, and a Victorian chair and a control panel at the helm. As George pushes the main lever forward, a display counter clocks his movement in time. At first advancing only a few hours, George can see the flowers bloom and die within seconds. Pushing ahead, George notices the mannequin in a shop window across the street change styles drastically over each passing year. When his house windows suddenly become boarded up, George stops the machine in 1917 to find a man resembling David on the sidewalk nearby. After the man, James Filby, explains that George must be mistaking him for his father David, who died in the war, George inquires about the "inventor" who lived in the house. James informs him that after the inventor disappeared, David, as executor of the inventor's estate, refused to liquidate the house, certain that the owner would come back. Returning to his house, George removes the boards over his laboratory windows and speeds ahead to 1940, stopping his journey when he feels a large bomb explode in the neighborhood. Realizing that another war is taking place, George continues traveling until 1966. The time machine is now in the middle of a park while sirens sound and all the town's citizens, including an elderly James, scurry to an atomic bomb shelter. Although James begs him to come to the shelter, George remains behind and finds that his sundial has been designated as a park monument to acknowledge David's dedication to his friend George. Suddenly, as an atomic blast destroys the town and molten lava flows through the streets, George rushes to the time machine and throttles ahead. Encased in the hardened lava, George travels through centuries of darkness until the rock finally wears away to reveal a lush and bountiful landscape in the year 802,701. Finding himself outside the large metal door of a temple, George assumes that if man still exists, he has conquered the elements. Drawn by the noise of humans, George walks to a river where several dozen blonde, docile young men and women known as Eloi leisurely bask in the sun. When the others fail to help a drowning woman, George rushes to save her, but finds no one acknowledges his self-sacrifice, not even the victim, Weena. Joining them for dinner, George questions the group about their apathy. The small, delicate Eloi remark that they do not value life nor do they read, write or have any governing laws. When he finds that the last human books have turned to dust, an incensed George reprimands the Eloi for disrespecting the sacrifices of generations before them and returns to the temple to leave, but Weena tells him the machine has been dragged behind the metal door by the Moorlocks, who reside in caves and provide the Eloi with food and clothing. George apologizes for his angry outburst and expresses his hope that he might reawaken the Eloi's spirit of self-sacrifice and scientific inquiry. Later, when they hear the sound of the Moorlocks' machines, Weena explains that the Eloi know about life underground through the rings, which when spun, recite a brief history of the earth. George soon learns how the human race divided itself into the master race of Moorlocks and the Eloi, whom the Moorlocks conquered and enslaved. The next day, when sirens sound, all the Eloi walk in a trance-like state toward the metal door, which opens and takes in several dozen men and women, including Weena. George then runs to a concrete well, where he and several remaining Eloi climb down into the caves, which are covered in human remains, evidence of the Moorlocks' cannibalism. When he finds the Eloi being herded like cattle, George tries to overtake several Moorlocks by wielding his torch in front of the fire-fearing, half-human, half-ape creatures. As a brawl begins, several Eloi, following George's example, use their fists to fight the creatures. Freeing the captured Eloi, George and the group scramble out of a well entrance, throwing blazing torches and dried wood into the pit to cause an explosion, which collapses the caves and kills the Moorlocks. George then tells the Eloi that with their life of leisure over, they must learn to work for themselves. Despite lamenting that he feels trapped in their world, George reveals to Weena that she is his only love. Suddenly, the temple door opens and the last Moorlocks attack George, who clambers into the time machine, pulls back on the lever and returns through the centuries to 5 January 1900. Back at the dinner table, George shows his London friends an exotic flower from Weena as proof of his travels, but the other gentlemen have no faith in George's story and leave. Still concerned for George's health, David returns to the house within minutes, but finds both George and the machine gone when he reaches the laboratory. Spotting tracks in the snow, David deduces that the Moorlocks moved the machine, forcing George to drag it into the laboratory upon his return. When housekeeper Mrs. Watchett asks him if George might return someday, David sagely reminds her that George "has all the time in the world."
Charles K. Hagedon
Paul C. Vogel
Best Special Effects
The Time Machine (1960)
H. G. Wells always thought The Time Machine would make a compelling film but he never lived to see it become a motion picture; he died in 1946. However, his son, Frank, saw The War of the Worlds, a film version of his father's novel which was directed by George Pal in 1953. That convinced him that Pal was the man to bring The Time Machine to the screen. Unfortunately, Paramount Studios, which had produced The War of the Worlds, had no interest in the project. Undaunted, Pal and science fiction writer David Duncan shopped their screenplay around to various Hollywood studios without success until Pal journeyed to England to film tom thumb in 1958. It was there that he forged a friendship with Matthew Raymond, the head of the British MGM studio, who helped Pal put together a budget for The Time Machine.
The project was soon given the green light by producer Sol Siegel; he had screened a rough cut of tom thumb and realized Pal's unique talent for creating film fantasies. Nevertheless, Pal still faced the challenge of working with a modest budget, which meant changing his casting plans. Originally, the director had envisioned Paul Scofield or Michael Rennie or James Mason as the Time Traveler, but he eventually settled on a relatively unknown actor from Australia - Rod Taylor. For the key role of Weena, the Eloi girl who becomes the Traveler's link to the future, Pal chose MGM contract player Yvette Mimieux, whose option had just been dropped by the studio. The success of The Time Machine soon changed all that, and Mimieux went on to become one of MGM's most popular ingenues of the early sixties (Where the Boys Are, 1960; The Light in the Piazza, 1962; Joy in the Morning, 1965).
Besides the casting, the biggest challenges facing Pal on The Time Machine were the art direction and the special effects. For example, what would the time machine look like? In The Films of George Pal by Gail Morgan Hickman, the director said, "The design all started with a barber chair. Bill Ferrari, the art director, thought that was a good way to begin. A turn-of-the-century barber chair. Then he came up with the idea of the sled-like design. He sketched that out, and I liked it. And then he put the controls on the front. I thought it was a good idea....And then Bill said we needed something behind it to indicate movement. So he came up with the big, radarlike wheel." Cinematographer Paul Vogel worked out a lighting scheme to indicate the advance of time as Rod Taylor travels into the future on his "barber's chair"; a clear gel was used for daylight scenes, a pink one for dawn, an amber one for dusk, and a blue one for night. These were synchronized on a seven-foot circular shutter rotating at varying speeds to simulate the movement of the sun through the roof of the Time Traveler's greenhouse as the machine advances into the future. Other time changes were represented by blue-backed traveling mattes (the sequence where Taylor is entombed in rock) and the use of numerous background sets which were double-printed with scenes of the traveler in the stationary time machine.
Other special effects tricks included the destruction of London by a volcanic eruption (the lava was made out of oatmeal dyed red) and the hideous appearance of the Morlocks (green latex skin and grotesque masks fitted with electrical eyes, courtesy of makeup artist William Tuttle). In the end, all of the hard work paid off because The Time Machine won the Oscar® for Best Special Effects. Pal later admitted that he "would have loved to make a sequel having the Time Traveler go back in time, or - there was a great sequence which (was cut), it just didn't fit into our plot - to go back to the same place and then go further into the future when the crabs took over. It was very beautiful - I can just see Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux, just the two of them...go in there where the crabs are and the ocean is flat and doesn't move anymore and the sun is hot all the time. I think we could have developed a very interesting story of the loneliness of these two people."
Producer/Director: George Pal
Screenplay: David Duncan
Art Direction: George W. Davis, William Ferrari
Cinematography: Nicolas Vogel, Paul Vogel
Makeup: Sydney Guilaroff, William Tuttle
Film Editing: George Tomasini
Special Effects: Wah Chang, Gene Warren
Visual Effects: Howard A. Anderson, Bill Brace
Original Music: Russell Garcia
Principal Cast: Rod Taylor (George, H.G. Wells), Alan Young (David Filby/James Filby), Yvette Mimieux (Weena), Sebastian Cabot (Dr. Phillip Hillyer), Tom Helmore (Anthony Bridewell), Whit Bissell (Walter Kemp).
C-103m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. Descriptive video.
by Jeff Stafford
The Time Machine (1960)
When I speak of time, I'm speaking of the fourth dimension.- George
If that machine can do what you say it can do, destroy it, George! Destroy it before it destroys you!- Filby
He's got all the time in the world.- Filby
Take your journey on your contraption. What would you become? A Greek, a Roman, one of the pharaohs?- David Filby
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.- George
Director George Pal was a close friend of fellow animator Walter Lantz, ever since Lantz did some cut-rate Woody Woodpecker work for Pal's Destination Moon (1950). As tribute, Pal tried to include Woody Woodpecker references in all his subsequent films. In the scenes where the Eloi are having a good time, every so often you can distinctly hear the "Woody Woodpecker" laugh.
Also, during the air raid scene, as all the people rush into the shelter a little girl crossing the street stops to pick something up that she dropped. When she does, you can quickly see she picks up a small Woody Woodpecker figure
The plaque on the control panel of time machine reads "Manufactured by H George Wells."
The "lava" in the volcano scene in downtown was actually oatmeal with orange and red food coloring spilled onto a platform and slowly moved down the miniature set.
The costumes that the air raid wardens wear just before the nuclear attack are the same ones worn by the crew in Forbidden Planet (1956).
The opening title card reads "H. G. Wells' The Time Machine." Voice-over narration throughout the film, by Rod Taylor, as Wells, explains the character "George's" experience traveling through time. A May 26, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item notes that producer George Pal hired David Duncan to write a screenplay adaptation of Wells's novel The Time Machine. On June 3, 1958, Hollywood Reporter reported that Pal was approached by Shiro Kido of Nippon's Shochiko Productions to co-produce an adaptation of the novel, but Kido's participation in the released film, which is not mentioned in reviews or in the onscreen credits, is unlikely.
Despite Film Daily Year Book listing the company's name as Galaxy Pictures, Inc., the film's onscreen credits read "Galaxy Films, Inc." Although Wells's original depiction of the year 802,701 is portrayed in the film, the novel does have several additional journeys into the future, including a stop at a beach where "George" is attacked by giant crabs and several million years into the future where the only sign of life is a black amorphous life form with tentacles. A modern source adds Josephine Powell to the cast.
The film won a Best Special Effects Academy Award in 1960. A 1979 film entitled Time After Time, was inspired by Wells's novel and featured Malcolm McDowell as an author, who travels through time in his own invention. The film was directed by Nicholas Meyer and co-starred Mary Steenbergen. In 2002, Simon Wells, H. G. Wells's great-grandson, directed Guy Pearce and Mark Addy in The Time Machine, a DreamWorks and Warner Bros. adaptation of the novel.
Released in United States Summer August 1960
Released in United States March 1975
Released in USA on video.
Released in United States Summer August 1960
Released in United States March 1975 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (Science Fiction Movie Marathon) March 13-26, 1975.)