Time After Time (1979 film): Wikis


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Time After Time

Promotional poster
Directed by Nicholas Meyer
Produced by Herb Jaffe
Written by Nicholas Meyer
Based on a novel by Karl Alexander and a story by Steve Hayes
Starring Malcolm McDowell
David Warner
Mary Steenburgen
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Cinematography Paul Lohmann
Editing by Donn Cambern
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) August 31, 1979
Running time 112 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Time After Time is a 1979 American fantasy film written and directed by Nicholas Meyer. His screenplay is based on a novel by Karl Alexander and a story by Steve Hayes and centers on British author H. G. Wells and his use of a time machine to pursue Jack the Ripper into the 20th century.



In London in 1893, popular science fiction writer and essayist H.G. Wells unveils a time machine, one like the same device he fictionalized in his novel The Time Machine, to his dinner guests. Before he can demonstrate it, police constables searching for Jack the Ripper arrive at the house. They determine that one of Wells's friends, a surgeon named John Leslie Stevenson, may be the infamous killer. Stevenson escapes by using the machine to travel to San Francisco in 1979, where it is on display in a touring museum exhibit about Wells.

Because Stevenson operated the machine without disabling its reverse mechanism, which requires a special key to operate it, it automatically returns to 1893 and registers the date to which Stevenson has gone. Wells pursues him but has difficulty adapting to the future, which he expected as an englightened and benevolent Socialist utopia and finds instead marred and plagued by many of the same vices which in his age made life miserable for so many. These difficulties begin with his ineffectual use of a false name taken from the popular fiction of his own time, which he assumed would be long forgotten — Sherlock Holmes.

Wells meets Bank of England employee Amy Robbins, and they fall in love. The pair try to find Stevenson, who has resumed his murderous behavior in San Francisco. Confronted by his former friend in a hotel, Stevenson confesses that he finds modern society to be pleasingly violent, and notes in 1893 he was a monster, whereas in 1979 he is an amateur. Stevenson is determined both to continue his killing spree and to get the time machine key from Wells so he can use the device to travel to other times and kill there, prevent Wells from following him, and permanently strand his friend in 1979.

To prove he is in fact H.G. Wells and that his time machine is real, Wells takes Amy three days into the future, where she is horrified to find a newspaper headlining her own murder as the Ripper's fifth victim. Wells and Amy go back three days to try to change history, but Wells is arrested on suspicion of murder because he knew so much about the serial killings, leaving Amy unprotected. As Wells unsuccessfully tries to convince the police of her danger, she attempts to hide from Stevenson. When the police finally enter her apartment, they find the body of a brutally slain woman, and Wells is released. He mourns Amy's death until he discovers that she is still alive and being held hostage by Stevenson, who had killed her friend in Amy's apartment before kidnapping Amy.

As he attempts another escape in the time machine, Stevenson's pocket watch becomes tangled in the door, enabling Amy to break free. Wells now removes the vaporizing equalizer from the exterior of the machine's cabin. This causes the machine, when Stevenson works the controls, to remain in place and send him traveling endlessly through time with no way to stop. Wells and Amy then board the machine themselves and return to Wells's own time. History records that the two marry - Amy Robbins was, in fact, the name of Wells's second wife.


Five years before writing and directing Time After Time, Nicholas Meyer published the novel The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, in which Sherlock Holmes meets Sigmund Freud.

Whereas most films set in the future are placed years (as in Escape from the Planet of the Apes), decades (as in Blade Runner) or even centuries (as in The Time Machine) beyond their release date, Time After Time, upon its release in August 1979, had the distinction of being set less than three months into the future: November 1979.

The film was shot throughout San Francisco in locations including Cow Hollow, North Beach, the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, the Marina District, Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman's Wharf, the Richmond District, the Golden Gate Bridge, Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill, the Embarcadero Center, Chinatown, the Marina Green, the Palace of Fine Arts, Potrero Hill, and the Civic Center.


Critical reception

In her review in The New York Times, Janet Maslin said the film "is every bit as magical as the trick around which it revolves." She continued, "Mr. Meyer isn't a particularly skilled director; this is his first attempt, and on occasion it's very clumsy. But as a whizkid he's gone straight to the head of the class, with a movie that's as sweet as it is clever, and never so clever that it forgets to be entertaining. The satisfactions Time After Time offers are perhaps no more sophisticated than the fun one might have with an intricate set of electric trains. Still, fun of this sort isn't always easy to come by, not after one's age has climbed up into two digits. There's a lot to be said for an adult's movie with the shimmer of a child's new toy." [1]

Variety called it "a delightful, entertaining trifle of a film that shows both the possibilities and limitations of taking liberties with literature and history. Nicholas Meyer has deftly juxtaposed Victorian England and contemporary America in a clever story, irresistible due to the competence of its cast." [2]

Awards and nominations

Nicholas Meyer won the Saturn Award for Best Writing, Mary Steenburgen won the Saturn Award for Best Actress, and Miklós Rózsa won the Saturn Award for Best Music. Saturn Award nominations went to Meyer for Best Director, Malcolm McDowell for Best Actor, David Warner for Supporting Actor, and Sal Anthony and Yvonne Kubis for Best Costumes, and the film was nominated for Best Science Fiction Film.

Nicholas Meyer won the Antenne II Award and the Grand Prize at the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival and he was nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture Screenplay and the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

External links




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