Classic Reflections: THE TIME MACHINE (1960)


This weeks’ Cinema Static Classic Reflections film will be The Time Machine (1960).

The Time Machine, by H. G. Wells was first published in 1894-95 in serial format before becoming a novel. The story of an inventor who builds a machine to travel through time was groundbreaking and original for its time but that’s not the only sci fi concept introduced to the Victorian era readers in this great work of fiction. The destruction of human civilization by war/conflicts and dual races, one living under the surface and the other above were also new ideas. Wells was also the first to coin the phrase “time machine.”

Fast forward to Hollywood in the late 1950s. Director/producer George Pal had already successfully brought another H.G. Wells novel to the screen in The War of the Worlds. Now he was ready to bring The Time Machine to life. He decided to direct and produce this movie and worked with the screenplay writer David Duncan on the story and MGM art designer Bill Ferrari on the design of the time machine itself. Pal also used a lot of time lapse photography which gave the film a realistic touch and won a special effects Oscar. (He was a master at stop motion filming which was how he got his start in the industry: making puppet movies for children.)

Review of THE TIME MACHINE with Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux

The film stars Australian actor Rod Taylor as George (in the book he’s simply called “the Time Traveler”) and a very young Yvette Mimieux as the Eloi Weena (she turned 18 during filming), plus Alan Young as Filby and Sebastian Cabot and Whit Bissell as George’s dinner friends.

The story is very close to the novel with a few changes that probably made it easier and less expensive to film plus to also make it more receivable by American audiences. Yes, it was made in the 60s, but this is one of the most classic sci fi films of all time (pun intended). It even has a memorable music score by local musician/composer Russel Garcia. (You can basically skip the 2002 remake even though it was directed by Wells great-great grandson. It was nothing like the book and very boring.

One nice thing about the newest DVD release is a short “making of” film with Rod Taylor. There’s the wacky story of how the original prop for the film, the actual time machine itself was bought and sold and disappeared until one day a sci fi buff and I think, designer (don’t remember his name) walked into a thrift store in the LA area and found the machine-or what was left of it- for sale! He bought it and lovingly worked to restore it back to its original self. Unfortunately some of the design drawings were no longer available but it was finally brought back to life and is on display somewhere.

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