The Time Machine (1960 film): Wikis


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The Time Machine

film poster by Reynold Brown
Directed by George Pál
Produced by George Pál
Written by David Duncan
H. G. Wells (novel)
Starring Rod Taylor
Alan Young
Yvette Mimieux
Sebastian Cabot
Whit Bissell
Music by Russell Garcia
Editing by George Tomasini
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s) 17 August 1960 (1960-08-17)
Running time 103 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $850,000

The Time Machine (also known as H.G. Wells' The Time Machine) is a 1960 British science fiction film based on H. G. Wells's 1895 novel of the same name about a man from Victorian England who constructs a time travelling machine and uses it to travel to the future. It starred Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux. The film was produced by George Pál, who also filmed a 1953 version of Wells' The War of the Worlds. Pál always wanted to make a sequel to his 1960 film, but it was not remade until 2002 when Wells' great-grandson Simon Wells, working with executive producer Arnold Leibovit, directed a film with the same title.

The film received an Oscar for time-lapse photographic effects showing the world changing rapidly.

In 1985, elements of this film were incorporated into The Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal, produced by Arnold Leibovit.



On January 5, 1900, four friends arrive for a dinner in London, but their host, H. George Wells (Rod Taylor), is absent. As requested, they begin without him, but then George staggers in, exhausted and disheveled. He begins to recount his adventures since they last met on New Year's Eve 1899.

A week earlier, George discusses time as the fourth dimension with friends, among them David Filby (Alan Young) and Dr Philip Hillyer (Sebastian Cabot). He shows them a tiny machine that he claims can travel in time. He tells them it is experimental, that a larger version can carry a man "into the past or the future". When activated, the device first blurs, then disappears. The others dismiss it as a trick and leave. 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.

George heads to his lab, where he sits in his full-scale model, pushes the lever forward, and watches time pass at an accelerated rate. To his amusement, he observes the changing of women's fashions on a mannequin in the window of a shop across the street. He stops at September 13, 1917 and meets a man in uniform whom he mistakes for David Filby; it turns out to be David's son James. He informs George that his father had died in "the war".

George returns to the machine and travels to June 19, 1940. There are barrage balloons and bombing. He cannot believe the war has lasted so long, then realizes this is "a new war."

George's next stop is August 18, 1966, where he is briefly fascinated by the changes in the neighbourhood, which is now part of a magnificent future metropolis featuring proud skyscrapers and an elevated monorail. However, he is puzzled to see people hurrying into a fallout shelter amid the blare of air raid sirens. An older, grey-haired James Filby tries to get him into the shelter, warning him that "the mushrooms will be sprouting.". Shortly after, James spots an "atomic satellite zeroing in" and flees into the shelter. An explosion turns the sky red and lava floods down the street. George restarts the machine just in time to avoid being incinerated. The lava covers the machine, then cools and hardens, forcing George to travel far into the future before it erodes away.

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

As night falls, George is surprised to find out that the Eloi have no government, no laws, and no civilization of which to speak. Wanting to learn why, he asks to see their books. When he finds them all covered in dust and rotted by mold, he is outraged:

"What have you done? Thousands of years of building and rebuilding, creating and recreating so that 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 returns to where he had left his time machine, but it has been dragged into the building, behind locked metal doors. Weena follows George and insists they go back inside, for fear of what she refers to as "Morlocks". A bizarre animal tries to kill Weena, but George wards it off with fire.

The next day, Weena shows George openings in the ground like air shafts. She then takes him to a museum, where the "speak-rings" (metal rings that can play a recorded message) tell of a centuries-long nuclear war. One group of irradiated survivors remained underground in shelters, learning how to build machines and manufacture things (thus evolving into the Morlocks), while another tried to survive on the surface (thus into Eloi). George starts climbing down a shaft, but turns back when a siren sounds. Weena and the Eloi walk towards the open building in a trance, conditioned to seek refuge from a non-existent attack. When the siren stops, the doors close, trapping Weena and others inside.

To rescue Weena, George climbs down a shaft and enters the subterranean caverns. In one chamber, he finds Eloi corpses and learns that the Morlocks are a race of albino, sloth-like mutants who raise and breed the Eloi like cattle so as to farm them and eat them later. George finds his way to the Morlock feeding grounds where Weena and the other Eloi are being herded together to be slaughtered. George sees they are sensitive to light and uses matches to keep them at bay, eventually fashioning a makeshift torch. A Morlock knocks it away, but one of the Eloi summons up the courage to beat the Morlock to death, thus showing that the Eloi are not yet entirely docile and still have the potential to rebuild civilization. George sets the Eloi to setting fire to material in the cave, driving off the Morlocks, then leads the Eloi up the shafts to safety. Under his direction, they drop tree branches into the shafts to feed the fire. There is an explosion, and the area caves in.

Finding the doors to the building now open, George goes to retrieve his machine, but they close behind him and he is attacked by what remains of the Morlock horde. George manages to activate the machine and escape to the far future.

Then George returns to January 5, 1900. Only Filby believes his fantastic story. George's friends leave. Filby turns back, 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. Filby asks which three she would have taken to restart a civilization, ending the film.


* Not credited on-screen.


Pál was already known for pioneering work with animation. He was nominated for an Oscar almost yearly during the 1940s. Unable to sell Hollywood the screenplay, he found the British MGM studio (where he had filmed tom thumb) friendlier.

MGM art director Bill Ferrari created the Machine, a sled-like design with a big, rotating vertical wheel behind the seat and an inscription on the control plate "Manufactured by H. George Wells".

The movie scenes were all filmed from May 25, 1959 to June 30, 1959 in Culver City, California.

Rod Taylor and Yvette Mimieux also co-starred in Dark of the Sun, 1968.

1993 sequel/documentary

In 1993, a combination sequel-documentary short, Time Machine: The Journey Back, 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, Rod Taylor, Alan Young and Whit Bissell reprised their roles.

Awards and nominations

Post-film appearances of the Time Machine

The original time machine prop reappeared in:

  • the mini sequel Time Machine: The Journey Back.
  • animator Mike Jittlov's short Time Tripper, and thus in his feature film version of The Wizard of Speed and Time which incorporated it.
  • the film Gremlins along with Robby the Robot at the inventor's convention.
  • episode 8 of Carl Sagan's series Cosmos - being piloted by Sagan himself - during a discussion of time travel and its hypothetical effects on human history. (A photo of this scene also appears in the book of the series.)

A replica or similar machine appeared in:

  • an episode of The Simpsons in which, Professor Frink uses a machine, a lot like the one shown, to visit his child self, to encourage him to be less geeky.
  • an episode of Quantum Leap, in which an eccentric inventor tries to make a similar-looking machine.
  • "The Nerdvana Annihilation" episode of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, in which a replica time machine was used.
  • Duke it out in D.C. - an add-on to the computer game Duke Nukem 3D - the machine being located in a "secret Government warehouse".


External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

For other uses, see The Time Machine (disambiguation).

The Time Machine is a 1960 science fiction film starring Rod Taylor as George, a time traveler from Victorian England, and Yvette Mimieux as the woman he finds in the distant future.



  • [The time machine takes George first to 1917 (during the First World War), then to 1940 (the Second)] Then I realized the truth of the matter – this was a new war...
  • [In the year 802,701, George speaks to Weena about the past] Man's past – is mainly a grim struggle for survival. But there have been moments, when a few voices have spoken up...
  • [George becomes furious when he discovers the Elois' passive nature] What have you done? Thousands of years of building and rebuilding, creating and recreating so you could 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... You, all of you, I'm going back to my own time; I won't even bother to tell of the useless struggle and their hopeless future, but at least I can die among men!

David Filby

  • George... I speak to you as a friend – more as a brother... if that machine can do what you say it can, destroy it. Destroy it before it destroys you!


  • [George's friends have just seen the small-scale replica of the time machine vanish before their eyes]
    DR. Philip Hillyer: I'll be damned ! - but where did it go?
    George: Nowhere in the usual sense - it's still here!
  • [In 1900, David Filby discovers that George has left in the time machine again]
    David Filby: He must have taken something with him...
    Mrs. Watchett (George's housekeeper): Nothing... except three books.
    David Filby: Which three books?
    Mrs. Watchett: I don't know... is it important?
    David Filby: Oh, I suppose not. Only, which three books would you have taken?
  • [Last lines]
    Mrs. Watchett: Mister Filby, do you suppose he'll ever return?
    David Filby: One cannot choose, but wonder. You see, he's all the time in the world.

External links



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