The Time Machine (1960 film)

The Time Machine (1960 film)

name = The Time Machine

caption = film poster by Reynold Brown
writer = H. G. Wells (novel)
David Duncan
starring = Rod Taylor
Alan Young
Yvette Mimieux
Sebastian Cabot
Whit Bissell
director = George Pál
producer = George Pál
editing = George Tomasini
movie_music = Russell Garcia, composer distributor = Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
released = 17 August 1960
runtime = 103 min
country = UK
language = English
imdb_id = 0054387
music = Russell Garcia
amg_id = 1:50002
imdb_id = 0054387
budget = approx $850,000

"The Time Machine" (AKA "H.G. Wells' The Time Machine") is a 1960 science fiction film based on British Science Fiction writer H. G. Wells's 1895 novel of the same name, about a man from Victorian England who travels far into the future using a time travel machine he has invented.

The film was produced by George Pál, who also filmed a famous 1953 version of Wells' "The War of the Worlds". It starred Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux. The screenplay was written by Daniel Duncan and the musical score was composed by Russell Garcia.

The film received a 1961 Oscar for its then-novel use of time lapse photographic effects to show the world around the Time Traveller changing at breakneck speed. Pál had always wanted to make a sequel to his 1960 film, but it was not remade until 2002 when Wells' great-grandson Simon Wells directed a film with the same title.

Plot summary

The film begins on January 4, 1900, in London, as four upper-class friends are meeting for dinner. Three of them are growing impatient at the absence of their host, H. George Wells (Rod Taylor) while the fourth, Filby, tries to calm them. The maid comes in and hands Filby a note left from George, whom she says has been missing for several days. The note informs the guests to start the meal without him if he has not arrived by 8:00 PM. Just as they begin the meal , the kitchen door opens and to their surprise in walks George, barely able to stand, exhausted and disheveled. He collapses into a chair asking for food and drink. His friends ask him what happened and as George catches his breath he begins to recount his adventures since they last met on new year's eve 1899.

A week earlier, George discusses the subject of time as the fourth dimension with some of his friends, among them David Filby (Alan Young) and Dr. Philip Hillyer (Sebastian Cabot). He then shows them a tiny machine that he claims can travel in time. He tells them the tiny machine is an experimental model, and that he's also built a larger version that can carry a man "into the past or the future". When activated, the device first blurs, then disappears. The others are incredulous, but dismiss what they have witnessed as a parlour trick and leave. Before he departs, Filby warns George that if it was not a trick, it is not for them "to tempt the laws of providence." They agree to meet again next Friday. Once Filby leaves, George heads to his lab where the full-scale model of his time machine is waiting. He sits in it, pushes the lever forward, and watches time pass at an accelerated rate around him. To his amusement, he sees the changing of women's fashion on a mannequin in the window of a dress shop across the street.

He stops the machine at September 13 1917 to see what has become of the world. He meets a man in uniform whom he mistakes for David Filby; it turns out to be his son James. He informs George that his father had died recently in the "Great War". George returns to the machine and travels to June 19 1940. There are barrage balloons in the sky and sounds of bombing. He cannot believe that the war has lasted so long, then realizes "this was a new war." His next stop is August 18 1966. He is puzzled to see several people hurrying past him into a fallout shelter amidst the blare of air raid sirens. An older, grey-haired James Filby tries to get him to enter the shelter, warning him that "the mushrooms will be sprouting" before fleeing. There is an explosion, the sky turns red, and hot lava begins to ooze down the street. George restarts the machine, just in time to avoid being incinerated. The lava covers the machine, cools and hardens, forcing George to travel far into the future before it erodes away.

He stops the machine abruptly on October 12, in the year 802,701, next to a low building with a large, grotesque sphinx on top of it. George explores the surrounding idyllic pastoral paradise and spots some young adults by a river. A young woman is drowning, but the others are strangely indifferent to her plight. George rescues her himself, but is surprised by her lack of gratitude (or any other emotion). She calls herself Weena (Yvette Mimieux) and her people the Eloi.

George is outraged to find out that the Eloi have no government, no laws, and little curiosity. Their books lay mouldering on a few shelves. He shouts, "A million years of sensitive men dying for their dreams, for what? So you can... dance and play." He decides to return to his own time, but finds that the time machine has been dragged into the building, behind a pair of locked metal doors. Weena takes George to a small museum, where talking rings tell of a centuries-long East-West nuclear war. One group of survivors chose to remain in the shelters, while the rest decided to "take their chances in the sunlight, slim as those chances might be." Later, Weena tells George that the Morlocks live in the building.

At night, Weena insists that George and her go back inside, for fear of the Morlocks. While they stay outside, he shows her a fire, and tells her a little about the past. As George tries to recover his machine, one of the Morlocks grabs Weena, but George saves her again. The next day, Weena shows George openings in the ground which look like air shafts. George starts climbing down one of them, but then a siren sounds and he turns back. Weena and rest of the Eloi start walking towards the now-open building as if in a trance, seeking refuge from a non-existent attack. The sirens eventually stop and the doors close, trapping Weena and several others inside.

George climbs down an air shaft, reaching a big cave. In one chamber, he sees a number of human skeletons strewn carelessly about and learns the horrifying truth: the Morlocks eat the Eloi. The Morlocks are finally shown to be hideous hominid, ape-like creatures. George finds that they are sensitive to light; he uses matches to keep them at bay, before lighting an improvised torch. At one point, a Morlock knocks it away, but one of the male Eloi summons up enough courage to punch the Morlock. Weena pitches in as well. They set fire to the flammable material in the cave, driving off the Morlocks. Then, George leads the Eloi up the air shafts to safety. Under George's guidance, they drop tree branches into the shafts to feed the fire. There is an explosion, and the entire area caves in.

Finding the metal doors now open, George goes in to get his machine, but the doors close behind him. Weena breaks down crying. A Morlock attacks, but George activates his machine and travels into the future, watching the Morlock die and turn to dust.

Then George travels back to January 5 1900. He tells his story to his friends, but only Filby believes him. After George's friends leave, Filby returns, but by the time he reaches the laboratory, it is too late: George has left again. The housekeeper, Mrs. Watchett (Doris Lloyd), notes that he took three books with him. Filby asks her which three she would take with her to restart a civilization. She asks Filby if they will ever see George again; Filby replies, "One cannot choose but wonder, You see, he has all the time in the world."


*Rod Taylor .... George (H. George Wells written on time machine)
*Alan Young .... David Filby/James Filby
*Yvette Mimieux .... Weena
*Sebastian Cabot .... Dr. Philip Hillyer
*Tom Helmore .... Anthony Bridewell
*Whit Bissell .... Walter Kemp
*Doris Lloyd .... Mrs. Watchett
*Paul Frees* .... Voice of the Rings

* Not credited on-screen.


Pál was already famous for his pioneering work with animation. He was nominated for an Oscar almost yearly during the 1940s. Unable to sell Hollywood on the screenplay, he found the British MGM studio (where he had filmed "Tom Thumb") much friendlier.

MGM art director Bill Ferrari invented the Machine, combining a sled-like design with a big, radarlike wheel. The original Machine prop would later reappear in animator Mike Jittlov's short "Time Tripper", and thus in his feature film version of "The Wizard of Speed and Time" which incorporated it. It is also seen in the film "Gremlins" along with Robby the Robot at the inventor's convention. Most recently it appeared as a major plot device in the situation comedy The Big Bang Theory.

1993 sequel/documentary

In 1993, a combination sequel/documentary short, "", directed by Clyde Lucas, was produced. In the third part, Michael J. Fox talks about his experience with "Time Machines" from "Back to the Future". In the last part, written by original screenwriter David Duncan, the film's original actors Rod Taylor, Alan Young and Whit Bissell reprised their roles.

Awards and nominations

*Academy Award for Best Effects, Special Effects winner (1961) - Gene Warren and Tim Baar
*Hugo Award nomination (1961)

Related references

* In the movie "Gremlins", the Time Traveller's machine from this movie is briefly glimpsed at an inventor's convention. While a character has a phone conversation in the foreground, the time machine disappears in the background.

* In a 2008 episode of television’s The Big Bang Theory, [ "The Nerdvana Annihilation”] , Howard, Sheldon, Leonard, and Raj buy the original time machine prop from the movie, and decide to time-share it.

External links

*imdb title|id=0054387|title=The Time Machine
*amg title|id=1:50002|title=The Time Machine
* [ "Time Machine The Journey Back Official Website"]
* [ A tribute to the classic 1960 MGM movie "The Time Machine"]
* [ The Time Machine - synopsis of film scenes]
* [ Turner Classic Movies description]
* [ Script (]
* [ Cinematographic analysis of "The Time Machine"]

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